Encouraging display from the Cards
9:06am, Wed 26th Jul 2017
Woking 0 Cambridge United 0
25 July 2017
The Cards produced an encouraging performance last night in holding League 2 side Cambridge United to a goalless draw. There was not much to choose between the sides for the most part and, with a bit more sharpness up front – no doubt something Anthony Limbrick will be trying to address over the next week or so – the Cards might well have registered a win. But he will have been pleased with a solid display defensively.
Woking lined up with Nathan Baxter in goal; a back four of trialist Matt Young, Josh Staunton, Richard Orlu and Nathan Ralph; a defensive cover of Joey Jones and Chez Isaac; Bobson Bawling and Joe Ward on the flanks; and James Demetriou (trialist) behind striker Inih Effiong. The latest signing, right back Louis Ramsay on loan from Norwich City, announced that afternoon, was not involved. Jason Banton and Kane Ferdinand remained absent through injury.
A warm dry evening contrasted with wet weather endured by the Cards in their previous two friendly outings. Both sides started energetically but with little goalmouth incident for the first ten minutes or so. At that point the ball ricocheted up into Effiong’s path on the edge of the area. However, as he sought to bring it under control and tee himself up, the visitors’ keeper, Forde, quickly intercepted. Two minutes later, Ward, having taken down a fine crossfield ball from Isaac, turned inside to fire an enterprising, curling, effort just wide of the far post.
Cambridge’s first chance came from a long throw, with Baxter grabbing a loose ball at the second attempt as it was nudged on goalwards. Ibehre went close shortly afterwards with a volley as he latched onto a ball from a corner. The Cards’ rearguard was looking reasonably assured, although both Orlu and Jones were caught as they tried to play the ball out of defence, with Baxter saving Jones’s blushes with a fairly routine stop.
Ibehre again caught the eye midway through the half, letting fly with a tremendous strike from distance, with Baxter doing well to tip the ball over the bar. Woking’s young keeper immediately followed that up with a smart save from the resulting corner, safely grabbing a close-range shot.
Effiong, ruggedly battling up front, did a good job in holding the ball up in a Woking counter-attack, ending with Demetriou shooting from distance, Forde repelling at the expense of a corner. Demetriou tried his luck again a few minutes later but this time his strike was comfortably over the bar.
As half-time approached the Woking defence warded off a couple of corners, while Jones’s header from a free-kick was well met but carried little threat from the edge of United’s area.
Half-time: Woking 0 Cambridge United 0
It looked as though the visitors had been told to up their tempo as they came at the Cards with renewed vigour immediately after the break. Ibehre shot narrowly wide as a cross reached him in the box, and they also gained a free-kick in a dangerous area, but Berry fired the ball straight into the defensive wall. However, the increased tempo did not really seem to affect the pattern of the game, with Woking continuing to hustle well off the ball and preventing the visitors from achieving very much from their spells of possession.
Ten minutes in, a flowing move saw Effiong drive into the box. He side-stepped one defender but then seemed to lose his bearings as a tame left-footed effort drifted well wide of the far post. He went closer shortly afterwards. Having drawn a foul, he latched onto Jones’s resulting header from the free-kick, flashing an instinctive left-footed shot just over the bar.
Fabio Saraiva came on for Demetriou in the 58th minute: the first of a succession of Woking substitutions, which also saw the arrival of Charlie Carter, Declan Appau and Ivan Nsimbi.
Cambridge applied pressure again, with Baxter tipping Taylor’s close-range header over the bar, while the rest of the defence dealt capably with several more corners and a quick break, which Staunton managed to block.
A bad foul on the hardworking Bawling led to a free-kick midway through the half, which Saraiva drove low and hard just past the post.
Appau’s arrival in midfield seemed to spark a period of play in which Woking looked the more threatening side, with the visitors’ earlier tempo no longer being sustained. A fine passing move saw Ward’s cross cleared before it reached Effiong and then, with 80 minutes gone, Carter played in Effiong, who, after making space for himself, lifted a deliberate effort just too high. An Appau cross led next to a flicked header from Saraiva, which Forde held cleanly.
In the final minutes Baxter made an excellent diving save from Maris, pushing the ball away for a corner, from which the lanky Darling ought to have done better with a free header.
All in all, this was an encouraging display against a strong Cambridge side, whose season also starts on 5 August. There were solid performances all over the pitch, with everyone looking fit and seeming to know their job. Baxter made some decent saves. Orlu and Staunton looked composed in the centre back positions. Jones, Isaac, Carter and Appau all worked hard and effectively in midfield. Appau, strong in the tackle and with good distribution, looks as though he could emulate Carter last season in making an immediate impact at first team level. It was perhaps disappointing that the talented Ward in particular did not manage to get into the game very much. Effiong battled gamely for the full 90 minutes and showed that his physicality can cause problems for defenders, although he looked short of support and will perhaps feel that on another day he might have put away one of the admittedly few chances that came his way. The main requirement seems to be to find a way of offering a bit more of a goal threat, probably through at least one more striker and also from midfield.
Woking: Nathan Baxter, Matt Young, Josh Staunton, Richard Orlu, Nathan Ralph, Joey Jones, Chez Isaac (Charlie Carter 65), Bobson Bawling (Declan Appau 75), Joe Ward (Ivan Nsimbi 81), James Demetriou (Fabio Saraiva 58), Inih Effiong
Unused subs: Luke Sheldrick (trialist), Jake Eales (trialist)
Cambridge United: David Forde, Jake Carroll (Harry Darling 58), Gary Deegan, Greg Taylor, Leon Legge, Pietro Mingoia, Luke Berry (Adam McGurk 58), Jabo Ibehre (Matt Foy 83), Emmanuel Osadebe, George Maris, Leon Davies
Unused sub: Dimi Bitov
My MOTM: No one standout performer but Inih Offing (pictured) narrowly gets my vote over Nathan Baxter for sheer dogged hard work and determination over the full 90 minutes.
Coming up: Woking v Swindon Town – 3pm on Saturday 29 July 2017