Cards slump to heavy away defeat at Sutton

Phil Batts
10:46pm, Sat 8th Oct 2016
Sutton United 4 Woking 1
Vanarama National League
8th October 2016

Woking were looking to bounce back after Tuesday night's agonising last-gasp defeat at fellow strugglers Bromley. Garry Hill made two changes to the starting line-up against a newly-promoted Sutton side who have made a solid start to the campaign, being five places and seven points above the Cards in fourteenth place in the league table after the opening two months of the season. Into the visitors' starting XI came goalkeeper Brandon Hall, making his first league start of the season in place of Michael Poke. Jake Caprice also regained his place following a short-term injury, with recent arrival Frankie Sutherland dropping out of the match day squad.

The U's kicked off on their 3G surface, with the Cards lining up in a familiar 5-3-2 formation, with full-backs Caprice and Nathan Ralph looking to augment the midfield at every opportunity.

Woking were first to show as they forced two early corners down the right. Caprice was soon looking a danger as he used his pace to good effect but the visitors were unable to make any real in-roads against a resolute home defence.

The home side also started brightly in the opening quarter of an hour as a number of Woking players looked to come to terms with the unfamiliar playing surface as they lost their footing whilst on the ball, but fortunately not in dangerous areas of the pitch.

The Cards were holding their own as the match settled down and Nathan Ralph was almost in at the back post following a slick passing movement but couldn't quite apply the finishing touch.

Despite this promising start, the visitors found themselves a goal behind in the twenty-first minute. The dangerous Roarie Deacon cut in from the right, easily shrugging off the challenge of Fabio Saraiva, and beat Hall from just outside the penalty area with a low shot just inside the 'keeper's left hand post.

The Cards now needed to dig in to steady the ship and in the twenty-sixth minute a good break led to Matt Tubbs drawing a fine save from ex-Card Ross Worner in the Sutton goal.

The game continued with plenty of open and attacking play at either end but with the home side looking the more threatening of the two teams.

Just past the half-hour Chris Dickson burst through for the O's, only to be denied by an excellent smother by Hall who was pleased to watch as the Sutton striker blasted the rebound well wide.

The Cards rode their luck again a few minutes later as a quickly taken free kick close to the half-way line led to a swift break into the Cards' penalty area. A despairing leg from Caprice inside the six-yard box fortunately saw the ball glance off the crossbar and away to safety.

A one-nil half-time deficit at this point would have been more than acceptable for the visiting fans, but in the forty-first minute the home side increased their lead as Ross Stearn converted after Deacon's cross from the right appeared to deflect off Brian Saah.

In added-on time at the end of the first half, Joey Jones almost got on to the end of a free kick but the home defence cleared the danger for a corner. From the resulting kick, Saraiva could only blast well wide leaving the Cards a mountain to climb in the second half.

Half-time: Sutton United 2 Woking 0

It was imperative that the visitors should give nothing away immediately after the interval as they looked to force their way back into the game.

Unfortunately, they got off to the worst possible start as Sutton scored a third barely a minute after the resumption to all but end the contest. A Stearn corner from the left was swung over to the back post where Nicky Bailey found himself with time and space to glide the ball home.

Matters then went from bad to worse in the fifty-second minute as another ex-Card, the burly veteran striker Craig McAllister again had time and space to head home unopposed from a Deacon cross to increase the Cards' misery.

With nothing to lose, Garry Hill then rang the changes as Charlie Carter and Max Kretzschmar replaced Keiran Murtagh and Jones just before the hour mark, quickly followed by Anthony Edgar taking the pitch for Caprice.

Chris Eastmond and Stearn might both have added further to the home team's tally before the Cards belatedly sprang to life. A good shot from Saraiva was well saved by Worner before Delano Sam-Yorke cut in from the right and his cross-cum-shot unluckily struck the far post before being scrambled to safety.

Woking continue to push forward in search of a consolation as Sutton, for the first time in the match, seemed content to rest on their laurels.

Tubbs should have done better when Sam-Yorke's header down gave the striker a clear look at goal. The Forest Green Rovers loanee, however, could only slice well wide.

He was not to be denied in the seventy-fourth minute, however, as the visitors finally reduced the deficit. Carter chipped into the box and Tubbs ghosted in to part-control the ball and nod it into the back of the net as it bounced up off the synthetic surface.

There was still time for plenty of goalmouth action as the match moved into the last fifteen minutes. Deacon continued to torment the Cards' defence with his array of tricks, whilst up at the other end, a glorious cross-field pass from Edgar found Dennon Lewis and the young Watford loanee's cross was side-footed wide by Carter when he might have done better.

Although the visitors were now starting to see more of the ball than at almost any time during the game, it was fitting that the last meaningful action should come from the home side as the dangerous Stearn missed a gilt-edged opportunity as he screwed the ball wide in injury time.

The Cards could have no complaints whatsoever with the result against a Sutton side who showed plenty of pace up front and who were generally first to the ball all over the pitch. This second away defeat in a week leaves the team perched perilously in twentieth place in the league just two points clear of the relegation zone. There will no doubt be plenty of soul searching by both management and players in advance of the long journey to Torquay in the FA Cup next Saturday before league duty resumes the following weekend with a tough home fixture against high-flying Barrow who are currently sitting fourth in the table.

Sutton United: Ross Worner, Kevin Amankwaah, Dean Beckwith (Shaun Cooper 55), Jamie Collins (c), Craig McAllister (Dan Fitchett 73), Ross Steran, Craig Eastmond, Nicky Bailey, Dan Spence, Chris Dickson (Maxime Biamou 68), Roarie Deacon

Unused subs: Bradley Hudson-Odoi, Bedsente Gomis

Goals: Roarie Deacon 21, Ross Stearn 41, Nicky Bailey 46, Craig McAllister 52

Bookings: None

Woking: Brandon Hall, Jake Caprice (Anthony Edgar 63), Connor Essam, Joey Jones (Max Kretzschmar 57), Nathan Ralph, Brian Saah, Keiran Murtagh (c) (Charlie Carter 57), Fabio Saraiva, Dennon Lewis, Delano Sam-Yorke, Matt Tubbs

Unused subs: Michael Poke, Chike Kandi

Goal: Matt Tubbs 74

Booking: Max Kretzschmar 62

My MotM: Charlie Carter - difficult to single out a worthy recipient for my vote, but in the half-hour or so that he was on the pitch, the youngster showed some nice touches and plenty of endeavour

Attendance: 1,714

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