Cards notch fourth home win
9:32am, Wed 13th Sep 2017
Woking 2 Solihull Moors 1
Vanarama National League
12 September 2017
The Cards grabbed their fourth win out of five at home in a game of wildly contrasting halves. Woking dominated the first period, enjoying overwhelming possession as they passed the ball patiently, eventually taking the lead in the 30th minute through a fine strike from the menacing Josh Banton. But, with the gusty wind and rain in their favour after the break, the Moors took the game to the Cards for a lengthy period and, just as Woking seemed to be getting back into the game, equalised in the 74th minute through a Darren Carter penalty. However, the Cards rallied, with substitute Charlie Carter scoring the winner eight minutes later with a deft finish after excellent work from Joe Ward and Louis Ramsay.
Anthony Limbrick made two changes from the side which started at Maidstone in Saturday’s 3-1 defeat. In came Ramsay at right back for Matt Young, and his ability to get down the flank at pace proved a real asset on the night. There was also a starting berth for the lively Regan Charles-Cook, replacing Carter. Both Charles-Cook and Nathan Baxter had played for the Moors in last season’s corresponding fixture.
As the rain set in, the Cards, kicking towards the KRE, were fast out of the block. Inih Effiong almost gave the side a first-minute lead, half gaining control of a ball from Chez Isaac before striking the near post with a left-footed effort. Ramsay then showed a clean pair of heels down the right, his cross being cleared for a corner.
The Cards’ confident, bright, start continued, with Ramsay again overlapping well at the end of a fine move, the Moors keeper parrying the cross to safety. The visitors sat back and seemed content to allow Woking to pass the ball around in front of them and from side to side. The question was whether anyone could turn all the possession into an incisive move into the box. Jason Banton looked the most likely to achieve this, showing an ability to glide past players and attempting an early one-two with Effiong which presaged the later breakthrough.
But it was Ward who then went closest, skipping past two players before unleashing a mighty effort from 30 yards, which the Moors keeper managed to palm out for a corner. Jordan Wynter, a capable deputy again for Richard Orlu in central defence, had a great chance from Isaac’s corner to put the Cards in front, planting a free header over the bar.
Woking continued to probe, with the only potential danger appearing to be the risk of over-confidence in playing the ball out from the back. A wild effort from Banton was followed by Josh Staunton going close from a corner, his downward header being blocked. The ball came out to Banton but he could not get his shot away in time.
The virtual one-way traffic continued but with a tendency for moves to break down on the edge of the area. Nathan Ralph, having another splendid game at right back, won a corner in the 26th minute from which Isaac sent in a fierce attempt, which was blocked. But a warning sign for the Cards came as the Moors broke quickly, Afolayan blasting wastefully high and wide.
More Woking pressure followed as Banton’s shot was blocked and then a clever one-two between Banton and Effiong saw the latter scoop a shot just over the bar. Almost immediately, the two reversed the combination, Effiong subtly playing in Banton, who made space in the box before finishing clinically into the corner to put the Cards 1-0 up after 30 minutes.
The visitors’ first real threat on the Woking goal came from a wicked Darren Carter free-kick, which a diving Nathan Baxter did well to punch away. Not long afterwards the experienced midfielder threatened again as he looked to break through the middle of the Woking defence before being crowded out.
Ralph’s pace off the mark enabled him to nick the ball away from an opponent to play in Charles-Cook, who produced a powerful low drive, which the Moors keeper parried away. As half-time approached, Ward, Effiong and Banton all attacked promisingly, with Banton going on a weaving run just before the whistle blew.
The Cards had played some attractive football but a one-goal lead did not reflect their dominance. Would it prove enough?
Half-time: Woking 1 Solihull Moors 0
The doubts intensified immediately the second half started. With the gusty wind strengthening and the rain swirling in the Cards’ faces, a much more aggressive Moors side took the game to the Cards, pumping the ball forward at every opportunity. In a messy start to the half – which saw a fracas after Ramsay had retaliated to a foul, wrestling his opponent to the ground – the Cards found themselves penned back, having difficulty getting any real possession, let alone returning to the passing game of the first half. Not that the Moors created many chances themselves but, after a shot from Ofolayan was blocked, they did come close to equalising in the 59th minute, with Baxter somehow emerging with the ball after a scramble from a corner. He was then forced to field a decent effort from distance.
It took Woking a good quarter of an hour to launch their first threatening attack, Ward scampering down the right to feed Banton. His cross looked tempting but no one seemed to want to pull the trigger and the move ended lamely as the ball was passed out for a goal kick. Another attacking break from Isaac ended with a cynical foul – not the first or last of the night – while Banton’s free-kick cannoned off the wall for a corner. Ralph and Ramsay put in respectable crosses before a ‘heart in the mouth’ moment as Wynter came close to passing the ball back beyond Baxter. A strong run from Ralph earned a corner, which Staunton headed wide, stretching.
The Moors threatened as the Cards’ defence stopped to claim offside, but the equaliser quickly followed. Carter did well to block the initial shot but after the ball had seemed to run away from an attacker, the latter was rashly barged over. The other Carter sent Baxter the wrong way to make it 1-1 from the spot in the 74th minute.
Bobson Bawling came on for a tiring Banton, Charlie Carter having already replaced Charles-Cook. Carter’s and Effiong’s persistence gained a corner but as the ball was cleared Bawling lost control and the break was only foiled by Baxter kicking the ball clear: he had not looked the favourite to get there first as he charged out of his area.
Effiong’s powerful run was poorly rewarded by the referee’s awarding a goal kick, to the amazement of fans in the LGS. But the next attack produced the winning goal. Ward made good progress down the right, slipping the ball to Ramsay. The young full back did brilliantly to get round the defender and pull the ball back to Carter, who deftly steered the ball home from a tight angle. 2-1 to the Cards!
A superb piece of skill from Ward encouraged thoughts of a third goal but his pull back was cleared. Bawling too went on an enterprising run, wriggling past two defenders but his cross was also hammered away.
With a minute of normal time to go, the Moors pressed hard for an equaliser. After the ball had ricocheted around the area, the final shot went wide. There was a final scare for the Cards as Baxter had to parry a cross up into the air but a defender completed the job.
In added time Effiong had an excellent chance to add a third goal. The ball broke quickly to Bawling on the right, who sent the bustling number 9 clear of the defence. But his first touch was far too strong, enabling the Moors keeper to clear.
With four minutes of added time up, the Cards could celebrate a well-deserved three points, although the victory was much harder to achieve than anyone would have guessed at half-time. There was a lot to admire in Woking’s performance, with fine performances all round and with the side clearly demonstrating the style of football Anthony Limbrick has targeted, but they will reflect on the importance of taking full advantage when on top. League leaders Sutton United on Saturday seem likely to present the strongest challenge so far to Anthony’s young side.
Woking: Nathan Baxter, Louis Ramsay, Jordan Wynter, Josh Staunton, Nathan Ralph, Kane Ferdinand, Chez Isaac, Joe Ward (Jamie Philpot 90), Josh Banton (Bobson Bawling 74), Regan Charles-Cook (Charlie Carter 65), Inih Effiong
Unused subs: Sam Mason, Matt Young
Goals: Jason Banton 30, Charlie Carter 82
Booking: Louis Ramsay
Solihull Moors: Connal Trueman, Kristian Green, Darren Carter, Joel Kettle, Shepherd Murombedzi, Jordan Liburd, Oladapo Afolayan, Paul Green (Fiacre Kelleher 87), Liam Daly, Tahvon Campbell (Tristian Dunkley 63), Ben Fox (Kalern Thomas 41)
Unused subs: Nathan Vaughan, Daniel Cleary
Goal: Darren Carter (pen) 74
Bookings: Paul Green, Shepherd Murombedzi, Jordan Liburd, Kalern Thomas
Sponsors’ MOTM: Chez Isaac (pictured)