Havant and W 1 Woking 0
12:00am, Sat 28th Jul 2007
Havant and Waterlooville 1 Woking 0
27 July 2007
On a foul rainy night, so typical of this summer, the Cards suffered defeat against a Conference South side packed with experience, going down to a second-half Rocky Baptiste goal.
Not surprisingly, seeing as there?s a match against Bognor tomorrow, there were several changes from the team that beat Wimbledon in midweek. Although the defence and goal keeper remained the same, in midfield Jerome Maledon replaced Bradley Quamina, there was another appearance of the trialist Dean Lovegrove (ex-MK Dons) in place of Matt Pattison, with Goma Lambu returning on the right, and up front, Michael Charles replaced Marvin Morgan to partner Liam Marum. The Cards appeared to line up in a 4-4-2 formation.
Although the opening exchanges were somewhat cagey, the Cards created two half-chances early on, the best following a fine move orchestrated by Maledon, who fed Marum on the right and his chipped cross just escaped Charles, who was running in at the far past. Shortly after, it was the turn of Sole to show what he?s best at, dropping his shoulder to dance past a couple of defenders, cutting inside and curling a shot just past the far post.
Unfortunately, things then turned ugly following a heavy, mistimed tackle from Maledon, which brought on the inevitable handbag exchanges between several players. Although Jerome was only shown a yellow card, he was immediately withdrawn and replaced by Quamina. This was a pity, because this incident appeared to affect the Cards? rhythm and, additionally, made Havant more aggressive and determined.
In fact, after 35 minutes, Slabber missed a glorious opportunity from a corner to put the home side ahead, heading wide from very close range after being given a free header. However, just on the stroke of half-time, the Cards almost took the lead, when Sole beat his defender to a Marum through-ball, only to see his shot hit the inside of the post, with him desperately unlucky not to get a boot on the rebound.
Almost inevitably the half finished on a sour note, with a further scuffle following a poor challenge by Jordan on Quamina, which, very surprisingly, particularly given what happened to Maledon earlier, went unpunished by the referee.
There were no changes to either the team or the weather for the start of the second half. However, Havant, who the longer the game progressed had begun to look the more cohesive and physically stronger side, upped their tempo and soon had the Cards on the back foot. Their early pressure was rewarded when they took the lead following one of the few moves of any real quality in the match. Following good interplay in midfield, Rocky Baptiste was put through by an incisive pass and, although the angle was somewhat acute, he finished well, hitting the ball low and hard into the bottom corner.
The Cards tried to strike back, initially through Charles who failed to get a decent connection on an attempted over-head kick following a strong run from Marum down the right-hand side. This was immediately followed by Goma making an excellent foray down the right flank, putting over an inviting cross, which Marum failed to get a proper connection on, but the ball fell to the onrushing Charles, who could only toe-poke the ball from five yards out into the grateful goalkeeper?s hands.
Following this excellent missed opportunity, both teams made changes, with Quamina being replaced by Shinn (61st minute), Charles by Pattison (63rd minute) and Ruby by Gasson (66th minute).
The additions of Pattison and Shinn seemed to lift the Cards? tempo, and near the end Sole, again, almost created something out of nothing, skipping past two defenders in the box, only for his shot to lack composure when well placed.
Although this was only a friendly, this match highlighted that there?s still a great deal of work to be done in getting us ready for the start of the new season ahead. Havant were very similar to the sort of opposition we?re likely to face in the Blue Square Premier i.e. big, strong, aggressive and with lots of experience, and although defensively we look quite solid, we need to be much more competitive and physically stronger in midfield and much more incisive in attack. However, despite this, to the team?s credit, they never gave up and all gave 100 %.