Another defeat for the Cards

Brian Caffarey
10:42pm, Mon 28th Mar 2016
Welling United 2 Woking 1
Vanarama National League
28 March 2016

Cards fans who had hoped that the point gained against Kidderminster Harriers on Saturday marked a turning point in a miserable end to the season were brought down to earth this afternoon as Garry Hill’s side slipped to their eighth defeat in their last nine league games against the struggling Wings. A combination of hesitant defending, poor finishing, some below-par performances and greater determination from the home side was enough to see the Cards leave empty-handed once again.

Garry made four changes from Saturday’s starting line-up, with Cameron Norman and Jake Robinson coming in at full back to replace Jake Caprice and Chris Arthur, and Godfrey Poku and Matt Robinson replacing Mark Ricketts and Bruno Andrade in midfield.

After a stormy night the Park View Road pitch, though sanded in places, was in remarkably good shape as the game started in bright sunshine and with the wind having abated. The Cards began reasonably promisingly, Joey Jones stepping out of defence to weave his way to the byline but with his cross falling behind Mike McEntegart’s goal. Daniel Carr, lively in the first half, played a fine ball across to John Goddard, whose quick shuffle opened up a shooting chance, blocked by a Welling defender – with the same fate befalling Carr himself a few moments later.

But Jones was soon in trouble at the back, with his failure to decisively clear the ball resulting in Sahr Kabba going down in the area. Vociferous shouts for a penalty resulted in a free-kick to Woking – much to the incredulity of the Welling bench and home fans.

Another Woking attack, with Carr again looking threatening, was followed by more indecision at the back, Saah selling Jones short, who was then booked for a late tackle on Kabba, who proved a thorn in the side of Woking’s central defenders until his enforced substitution early in the second half.

A smart turn in midfield from Carr led to another decent Woking attack as he fed Goddard. From the resulting corner Jones headed onto the top of the crossbar, with the ball being helped on its way by McEntegart. A minute later a scramble on the edge of the Wings’ area saw Keiran Murtagh nudge the ball to Carr, who fired a rising shot over the bar.

Welling went even closer in the 20th minute after Kashket had made an enterprising run through midfield, setting up Kabba, whose goalbound effort was saved by a sprawling Jake Cole, the ball hitting the Woking keeper on the head.

Carr impressed again as he rode two attempted tackles, only to be finally brought down not far outside the area. Goddard stepped up to send a fine free-kick curling onto to the top of the crossbar.

But it was the home side who made the breakthrough and, once again, it was Woking’s vulnerability at set pieces that was their undoing. Lokko was allowed a free header at the far post from only a few yards out and had no difficulty in placing the ball firmly into the net.

The goal, not surprisingly, gave the Wings a lift, with Kabba continuing to cause problems for Saah in particular.

The woodwork came to Welling’s aid again in the 33rd minute as Goddard just managed to reach a cross at the far post, poking the ball against the post. Somehow or other the Welling goal survived as the ball ran along the line and appeared to ricochet off a defender.

Shortly before half-time Goddard had to give way with what looked like a hamstring strain, with Bruno Andrade coming on to replace him. The three minutes of added time were notable only for a well-struck, left-footed effort from Carr which went narrowly wide.

The Cards left the field perhaps slightly unfortunate to be a goal down on the balance of play but with only themselves to blame for some poor defending.

Half-time: Welling United 1 Woking 0

The home side started the second half strongly, pressing the Cards back down the Woking left. It was something of a surprise, therefore, when Matt Robinson, who enjoyed a much better second half, linking up well with the overlapping Joe Robinson, skipped past the Welling left back and made for the byline. As he pulled the ball back it struck a Welling defender, who deflected it past McEntegart to pull the Cards level at 1-1.

Matt Robinson had the ball in the net some five minutes later but the referee had already blown for a foul from a corner.

Jones was perhaps lucky to stay on the pitch as he perpetrated a rash challenge in the 60th minute. But the Cards paid the penalty anyway as Nortei Nortey got in front of his marker to direct the free-kick just inside Cole’s post to make the score 2-1 to Welling.

But for a superb sliding block by Norman the lead could easily have been extended a minute later. This let-off might have been even more significant if the Cards could have taken advantage of several good chances which then came their way. Andrade, who had not managed to get into the match out on the left flank, was possibly taken by surprise as the ball reached him from a corner but his low downward header offered no threat. Murtagh then missed the best chance of all. A good cross from Matt Robinson presented him with a free header right in front of the goal but he failed to connect properly and the ball bounced off the turf and harmlessly away.

Garry Hill then threw Gez Sole on for Poku but the immediate threat came at the other end as Taylor bisected the Woking defence. A goal looked certain as Saggers strode clear but Cole pulled off a fantastic save and then, a minute later, executed another fine block.

Woking’s wastefulness in front of goal was evident again as Matt Robinson pulled the ball back to Sole, who sidefooted over the bar.

That, in effect, was the end of Woking’s offensive threat for the afternoon, although there was still some ten minutes of play, including four minutes of added time. Murtagh directed a flicked header towards the keeper but, for the most part, the home side managed to keep the play well away from any danger areas and stifled any attempts by the visitors to grab an equaliser.

Aside from a few flashes from Carr and Goddard in the first half and Matt Robinson in the second, and some more fine keeping from Cole, this was generally a pretty uninspiring performance from Garry Hill’s side. There was no lack of effort but the defence was sometimes hesitant, the midfield failed to impose itself and the good chances which were created were not taken. Against moderate, if determined, opposition the likes of Murtagh, Andrade and Butcher ought to have been able to have made more impact. Cards fans will be beginning to wonder if they are going to see another win before the season ends.

Welling United: Mike McEntegart, Barney Williams, Joey Taylor, Nortei Nortey, Kevin Lokko (Luke Saggers 73), Luke Wanadio, Ian Gayle, Sam Corne, Ibrahim Kargbo, Scott Kashket (George Porter 87), Sahr Kabba (Kadell Daniel 57)

Unused subs: Jack Bloxsome, Reece Harris

Goals: Kevin Lokko 28, Nortei Nortey 62

Booked: Ibrahim Kargbo

Woking: Jake Cole, Joe Robinson, Joey Jones (Chris Arthur 65) , Brian Saah, Cameron Norman, John Goddard (Bruno Andrade 42), Godfrey Poku (Giuseppe Sole 74), Keiran Murtagh, Matt Butcher, Matt Robinson, Daniel Carr

Goal: Ian Gayle o.g. 55

Unused subs: Jake Caprice, Mark Ricketts

Booked: Joey Jones and Joe Robinson

My MOTM: A difficult choice but it goes marginally to Daniel Carr for a lively first half performance.

Attendance: 550

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