Norman Conquers at Forest Green

Ray Avards
1:07pm, Sun 17th Apr 2016
Forest Green Rovers 1 Woking 2
Vanarama National League
16th April 2016

Cameron Norman kept his place in the centre of defence having come on following Joey Jones’ head clash in the first half of the drawn game at home to Gateshead last week. Bruno Andrade continued wide on the left having returned in the same game for the injured Alex Smith. The Cards lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation led by Daniel Carr with Matthew Robinson operating wide right and Keiran Murtagh in the hole.

Woking showed first with a slide rule pass from Murtagh setting Andrade free, a link-up that would show even more later in the game, his low cross shot being pushed aside at full stretch, by home 'keeper Steve Arnold.

The game then settled into a pattern of increasing possession and pressure upon the visitors as first a harmless header by Kiefer Moore from David Pipe’s cross followed by a crucial Mark Ricketts standing tackle with perfect timing, stopped a speeding Elliott Frear inside the area.

Critically for Woking, in the tenth minute Cameron Norman was off the pitch sorting out an issue with his kit or other item for a couple of minutes. He rushed back on but could not regain his centre back position before Sam Wedgebury slid in Moore, in the inside right channel, to finish over Jake Cole’s lunge as the Cards' 'keeper rushed out of his goal to try to avert the danger, alas to no avail.

Soon after, Aarron Racine for the home side was totally free around the penalty spot at a corner but placed his header straight into Cole’s arms. Then Frear swept passed the Woking right flank and just as his neat cross seemed destined for Moore Norman, back-pedalling, back-headed beyond the striker and the danger was cleared.

It was now all Forest Green as Cole saved with his feet from Moore and Frear, following up, should have increased the lead but placed his shot wide from a good position.

Another vital interception by Ricketts conceded a corner. From it, centre back Charlie Clough’s header was deflected wide. Chris Arthur, for once, was then caught out by Keanu Marsh-Brown darting past him on the right and his deflected angled shot was well held by Cole.

Andrade led another break-out but Dan Carr, who was on the end of the cross, could not direct his header on target.

Frear then curled a shot onto the roof of the net with Cole back-pedalling. As the home side continued to dominate, a Kurtis Guthrie header was too high but a Marsh-Brown shot whistled just wide when he again found time and space on the right wing.

The Woking stopper again came to the rescue, this time saving Guthrie's point-blank drive after fine FGR build-up work. Not long after, the home side did find the net but fortunately for the visitors Moore was clearly offside.

Darren Carter then blasted another effort not far over the bar from the edge of the Woking area before the Cards finally made in-roads into the opposition half with an Andrade free kick and corner, although neither troubled the home defence.

All in all, the visitors would have been quite happy to reach the interval just the one goal behind.

Half-time: Forest Green Rovers 1 Woking 0

FGR began as they meant to carry on and Guthrie weaved inside his man to the edge of the Woking box and shot just over.

Carr, put away on the right after good work between Robinson and then Murtagh, then got to the byline but he couldn’t manufacture a cross although he was surprised nevertheless to win a corner. He burst clear of his marker again after more build-up play down the right and had time and space to cross but Murtagh, sliding into the goal area, could not quite reach the square ball across goal.

Woking were now making a much better fist of the second half as Carr’s left foot curler was angled two foot over the crossbar and Andrade cutting inside and across his marker was tripped. He got up to beat the defensive wall with his free kick but it was too central and held comfortably by Arnold.

Home fans had already noted the pace of Andrade and now with reason. Just past the hour mark, he tore at the home defence in a run from 10 yards inside their half. Full-back David Pipe struggled to keep up with him and succeeded only in hauling him down in the penalty area for a clear penalty. Carr settled any nerves he had and stepped up for the kick. His swinging right foot shot was pushed onto the inside of the post by Arnold but fortunately for the visitors the ball ricocheted behind him, across his goal and into the other corner of the net for the Cards’ leveller.

FGR hit back as headers ping-ponged around the Woking goal area following a left wing corner from Frear but the defence got a big boot clear with Brian Saah in the thick of the action.

Ady Pennock, the home side's manager, then made a quick-fire double substitution. Brett Williams, getting a lively reaction from Woking fans behind the goal, for Guthrie and Anthony Jeffrey for Marsh-Brown.

But Woking by now had the bit between their teeth and were also assisted by the vociferous encouragement of the away fans. Chris Arthur strode out of defence on another burst forward and his attempted cross was deflected away for a corner.

There was also danger at the away end, however, as Frear got in close from a throw-in not cleared by the Woking defence and only a last-ditch save from Cole with his feet down by his left upright prevented FGR regaining the lead. Williams then stretched and got his head to a corner but his effort went just wide.

The pressure was clearly back on Woking. A Jeffrey cross fed Moore’s strike in the air, Cole beating it up high for Moore to react again on the rebound, seeing his header clip the crossbar and go over.

There was to be a final twist to the match however as the Cards took the lead in stoppage time. Matt Butcher’s corner, won by the persistence of Murtagh near the corner flag, saw Arnold attempt to punch the ball away but he could only deflect it to Andrade lurking on the left of the area. His clipped cross was only half-cleared and it fell for Cameron Norman, the centre back having a split second to steady himself as the ball settled, before the home defence swallowed him up. There was time, nevertheless, for the Norwich City youngster to drill the ball through the forest of legs and in for the winner. Joy unconfined as he was mobbed at the barrier by jubilant Cards’ fans.

FGR sought to react in the remaining few minutes of added-on time. A back-post header went wide from Frear’s deep cross and Robinson was then booked for a foul upfield as he bowled his opponent over. Nothing came of the free kick, however, and Woking saw out time to record their first league victory since winning at Wrexham way back on January, 9th. To boot, it also meant that they had completed an unlikely double over the second-placed side.

Next up, a rejuvenated Cards take on 4th placed Grimsby at the Laithwaite Community Stadium on Tuesday evening (7.45pm KO), in the final floodlit league game of the season.

Forest Green Rovers: Steve Arnold, David Pipe, Aarron Racine, Charlie Clough, James Jennings, Keanu Marsh-Brown (Anthony Jeffrey 71), Sam Wedgbury, Darren Carter (Marcus Kelly 86), Elliott Frear, Kurtis Guthrie (Brett Williams 71), Kieffer Moore

Unused subs: Dale Eve, Ben Jefford

Goal: Kieffer Moore 10

Bookings: Darren Carter 64, David Pipe 68

Woking: Jake Cole, Jake Caprice, Brian Saah, Cameron Norman, Chris Arthur, Mark Ricketts (c), Matt Butcher, Matthew Robinson, Keiran Murtagh, Bruno Andrade, Daniel Carr (Giuseppe Sole 87)

Unused subs: Nick Hamann, Joey Jones, Godfrey Poku, Gary Abisogun

Goals: Daniel Carr 69 (pen), Cameron Norman 90+2

Bookings: Matt Robinson 90

My MotM: Jake Cole (pictured) - a tower of strength and resistance yet again with hands, feet and heart on which this highly unlikely looking win was built.

Attendance: 1,605

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