Boz's Fruit & Veg

Cards narrow the gap

Brian Caffarey
9:47pm, Sat 9th Feb 2019
Woking 3 East Thurrock United 0
Vanarama National League South
9 February 2019

The Cards took advantage this afternoon of the postponement of Torquay United’s game to move to within one point of the league leaders, with the same number of matches played, following this reasonably comfortable win over the Rocks. The crucial goals were scored in the first half by the impressive pairing of Dave Tarpey (pictured) and Greg Luer, with substitute Jake Hyde adding a third in stoppage time at the end of the game.

On a generally overcast, blustery, afternoon, and with the sandy pitch showing distinct signs of wear and tear in some areas, the Cards lined up with two changes from the starting eleven for Tuesday’s very disappointing defeat at home to Dartford. With Ben Gerring’s and Armani Little’s punishment for Tuesday’s red cards not kicking in till the next game, Dowse was able to name an unchanged defence and midfield. Upfront, though, he brought in Luer in place of Harvey Bradbury and Bradley Hudson-Odoi, making his debut in place of Rhys Murrell-Williamson.

It took Woking a few minutes to get into attacking mode. Luer, whose skilful touches and intelligent positioning featured throughout the game, cut the ball back nicely from the left flank but Tarpey was tackled before he could take advantage. Paul Hodges’s effort was then blocked. The Cards’ attacking momentum was maintained for several minutes, with a Josh Casey cross, well taken by the visiting keeper, and some tenacious work by Hodges in the box which nearly carved out an opening. The resulting corner saw Gerring get his head to the ball at the far post before fellow central defender Jack Cook sent in a curled effort, followed by Tarpey hitting a shot into the ground, which the keeper tipped over the bar. Cook was prominent again as he flashed the ball across the area and the far post. Woking continued to find joy down the left flank as Hudson-Odoi beat his marker, although his cross was blocked.

Woking’s opening goal came in the 19th minute. Luer slipped the ball to his right to Tarpey, who, just having the edge on his opponent, struck a perfectly-directed low shot across the keeper and just inside the far post. There might have been a slight deflection but it did not seem to affect the trajectory of the loanee striker’s fine finish.

Hodges was the next Woking player to threaten, jinking inside onto his left foot, only to see his shot strike Luer.

The main threat from the Rocks came, not surprisingly, from captain Sam Higgins, with over 250 goals for the club to his credit. Most balls were either aimed for him or fired in by him, although he received useful assistance from wide man Sam Ashford. On 22 minutes Higgins got his first sight of the Woking goal. His near post shot was blocked but he then swung in a wicked cross which Josh Casey cleared not without difficulty. Higgins was also responsible, a few minutes later, for the visitors’ first real attempt on goal, winning the ball on the edge of the area before firing a shot straight at Craig Ross.

Meanwhile Hudson-Odoi had shown some neat footwork again and Little’s piledriver had been blocked.

Woking pressed forward again. Christian Jolley’s deep cross was headed out to Hodges, who curled a shot wide of the far post. This was followed by the best move of the match, leading to Woking’s second goal in the 35th minute. Jolley released Hudson-Odoi down the left, with the ball being shunted on to Tarpey, who placed it exactly where Luer was pointing. The last-named advanced into the area and executed a delicate dink over the keeper, with the ball nestling in the far corner.

Hodges had a good chance to quickly add a third goal only a few minutes later as Hudson-Odoi sent in a fine deep cross but he was only able to head the ball straight at the keeper from a few yards out.

A couple of more promising attacks followed but, as half-time approached, the Woking defence stuttered a little. Cook mis-controlled the ball in his area, with Ashford going down as the centre back retrieved the situation. It didn’t look like a strong shout for a penalty but it was nevertheless a relief when the referee waved play on. And then Gerring carelessly lost the ball near the touchline, resulting in an awkward cross and Ross then having to save from Ashford.

Half-time: Woking 2 East Thurrock United 0

When play resumed after the break it seemed to be the visitors who had benefited most, playing with more intensity and ambition, while Woking appeared to lose their way somewhat, with more passes going astray and with less control of the midfield areas. Indeed, the Rocks ought to have reduced the deficit almost immediately. Higgins fired in a dangerous cross, which Casey failed to cut out. It fell to Ashford at the far post, who knocked the ball across to a team mate but somehow Cook and Ross managed to gain possession.

More Rooks’ pressure followed as Casey was robbed in midfield, with the visitors’ effort on goal going high and wide, followed by the Cards having to defend a free-kick not far outside the area.

At the other end Woking really only had to show a blocked drive by Tarpey and more clever play by Luer, gaining a corner.

After Ross had been forced to tip a cross-cum-shot over his bar Woking carved out their best chance of the half to date. Little put Tarpey through but the keeper thwarted the former’s attempt to nick the ball over him.

But East Thurrock spurned another good chance a few minutes later. The right side of the Woking defence seemed to be nowhere to be seen as the visitors attacked quickly down the flank. As the ball was played into Ben Marlow a goal seemed certain but Ian Gayle (on for the injured Cook) managed to intervene, with Ross then grabbing the ball.

The game became rather scrappy and ill-tempered at this stage as the referee handed out several bookings. Jake Hyde came on for Tarpey in the 73rd minute, with the latter’s contribution being roundly applauded by the home fans.

Although it now looked as though the danger of the visitors making a come-back had largely passed, they nevertheless threatened as Alex Osborn executed a sharp turn, his shot being deflected for a corner, from which Ryan Scott headed over.

As full-time approached, Luer again showed a clever touch as he beat the full back to cross to Hyde, who, however, failed to connect. But, in added time, the substitute striker scored what must be one of the easiest goals of his career. As Little sent in a free-kick, the Thurrock defence went completely missing, leaving Hyde the simple task of nodding the ball past the keeper from very close range.

Although Woking lost their way somewhat in the second half, this was nevertheless a pleasing performance overall, with particular pleasure coming from the interplay and excellent finishing of Tarpey and Luer, with an encouraging debut too from Hudson-Odoi.

With two more home games to follow, against Weston-super-Mare and Hemel Hempstead, before the challenging trip to Dartford, the emphasis now must be on maximising home advantage and keeping up the pressure on Torquay for that automatic promotion slot.

Woking: Craig Ross, Nathan Collier, Ben Gerring, Jack Cook (Ian Gayle 50), Josh Casey, Christian Jolley, Paul Hodges, Armani Little, Dave Tarpey (Jake Hyde 73), Greg Luer, Bradley Hudson-Odoi (Harvey Bradbury 64)

Unused subs: James Dunn (gk), Rhys Murrell-Williamson

Goals: Dave Tarpey 19, Greg Luer 35, Jake Hyde 90

Booked: Ben Gerring, Christian Jolley, Armani Little, Harvey Bradbury

Sponsor’s MOTM: Paul Hodges

East Thurrock United: Jake Giddens, Lee Burns, Ibrahim Sori-Diallo, Ben Marlow, Ryan Scott, Steve Sheehan, Amos Nasha, Danny Harris, Sam Higgins, Alex Osborn, Sam Ashford

Unused subs: Reece Prestedge, Jon Nzengo, Harry Lee, Tom Derry, Shaun Batt

Booked: Ryan Scott, Lee Burns, Sam Higgins

Attendance: 1613 (30 away fans)

Referee: Daniel Lamport

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