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Cards Starved Of All Three Points At Hungerford

Dan Stobbart - 2nd March 2019

Cards Starved Of All Three Points At Hungerford Hungerford Town 1 Woking 1
Vanarama National League South
2nd March 2019

Woking had to settle for a point against Hungerford Town on a very windy afternoon at Bulpit Lane.

Following a comfortable but goalless first half, the Cards suffered a setback early in the second, Alfie Whittingham pouncing on a rebound for the hosts to break the deadlock. Parity was restored shortly after though, a Josh Casey free kick managing to sail all the way into the top corner from distance.

On an afternoon where Torquay were defeated in their home game with Weston-Super-Mare, and having created a decent number of chances throughout the contest, Alan Dowson's side will rue not returning to Surrey with all three points and taking the opportunity to steal a march at the top of the table.

Dowse made a couple of changes from the side which started the win at Truro in midweek, Greg Luer (pictured) coming into attack for Reise Allassani, and Moussa Diaby, signed the day before on a 28-day loan from Dover Athletic, coming in for his debut at centre half in place of Jack Cook, who was rested and not part of the matchday squad.

On a cold and overcast day, in blustery conditions, Hungerford kicked off facing towards the clubhouse. The effective link up of Woking's front four was evident early on and the quadrant, along with imposing work behind them from Olu Durojaiye and particularly Armani Little, the best player on the pitch in the first half, caused Hungerford a number of problems.

Around the quarter-hour mark, the endeavour started turning into opportunities on target. Paul Hodges battled well and showed his usual trickery to feed Jake Hyde, who's shot near the byline was parried by Michael Luyambula, Dave Tarpey's headed follow-up then cleared away. Tarpey then turned provider for Hyde, who cut in from the left and shot low, but straight at the keeper.
Hodges then produced the most testing effort of the half, hitting a brilliant swerving effort from 30 yards out, forcing a tip round the post. The resulting corner kick from Little found Ben Gerring, who’s headed effort was comfortably saved despite a good contact.

Josh Casey and Greg Luer both produced excellent individual runs into the host’s box, eating up the ground in the attacking half to get there, but were both unfortunate their efforts didn't lead to success. An offside against Hyde and flash across the six-yard box respectively, being the resulting outcomes.

Midway through the half Woking had further good chances, Armani Little having a brilliant swerving free kick from 30 yards sail just past the left stanchion, and a troubling throw-in from Greg Luer dropped well for Tarpey near the penalty spot, but the forward could only blast over, best chance of the half. Following a great piece of control from Hyde taking down a Craig Ross punt he then tee’d up Little, who was at it again from distance, striking a great effort from 25 yards out, parried out for a corner. The resulting delivery and scramble led to Diarra being unfortunate not to profit at the far post.

Craig Ross had very little to do throughout the half, and Hungerford's best opportunity arrived just before the break, a free kick from the left finding James Rusby, whose header was well met, aiming for the top right corner but looping out of play.

Half-time: Hungerford Town 0 Woking 0

As the team’s emerged for the second half, the Cards were dealt a blow before a ball was even kicked as Little was substituted, apparently picking up a groin injury during the first period. He was replaced by Christian Jolley.

It was a tough opening quarter of an hour for the Cards to negotiate, the intensity and rhythm in their play dropping off, allowing a more spirited Hungerford to begin making inroads further up the pitch. On 55 minutes, forward Danilo Orsi-Dadomo was put through on goal in what looked like a tight offside call, eventually firing an effort which was well saved by Ross, only for Alfy Whittingham to quickly arrive and smash in the rebound.

The Cards got back on terms just under ten minutes later, Casey swinging in a free kick from midway through the attacking half, the ball just about averting contact with anyone (despite the best efforts of Diarra at the back post) and drifting into the top left corner.

An extra touch from Diarra not needed, as the Cards equalise; pic: David Holmes

In a bid to try and capitalise, Dowse made a change on 65 minutes, bringing on Reise Allassani for Tarpey. For all the subsequent energy of the substitute alongside Greg Luer down the opposite channel, the pattern of the game had become scrappy, the drop off in quality of play and ongoing presence of the wind continuing to leave its mark.

Chances were still falling for the Cards though, especially in the last twenty minutes. Gerring nodded wide from a decent Casey free kick delivery, another ‘Rory Delap’ impersonation (one of many) from Greg Luer reaped havoc in the box and Hyde missed a golden opportunity, getting a touch on a nervy attempt to nod home within the Hungerford defence, the striker latching on to the ball but seeing it trickle agonisingly wide.

Up the other end, Ross remained largely untested, though Whittingham and Rhys Kavanagh had been the most effective players for the home side, probing down the attacking left, Kavanagh flashing a very dangerous ball across the six -yard box, no takers.

The Cards had further opportunities in the closing minutes, Luer doing really well to get past his man down the attacking right, the eventual shot comfortably saved. Gerring nodded well at an angle to tee up Diaby who launched himself at the ball from close range only to aim straight at Luyambula. Final substitute Harvey Bradbury, replacing Hodges, went close with a low strike and header very late on, but the Cards just could not find the breakthrough.

The view from half-time suggested the Cards might build on the first 45 minutes and go on to win the game but the injury to the influential Little, in tandem with the tricky conditions and the early goal conceded at the start of the second period had them chasing the game, not able to return to the more effective work produced earlier, and still squandering the more direct opportunities towards the end. On a day where the top 7 sides all dropped points, the optimist would look to the result being a point gained away from home, but there’s no getting away from the frustration of not sealing all three. The Cards have a swift opportunity to get back into the winning habit Tuesday night away at Banstead Town in the Surrey Senior Cup, before returning home next Saturday in the league against Chippenham Town.

Woking: 1 Craig Ross, 2 Nathan Collier, 3 Josh Casey © , 4 Moussa Diarra, 5 Ben Gerring, 6 Olu Durojaiye, 7 Paul Hodges (12 Harvey Bradbury 81'), 8 Armani Little (14 Christian Jolley 45'), 9 Jake Hyde, 10 Dave Tarpey (16 Reise Allassani 65'), 11 Greg Luer

Unused subs: 15 Ian Gayle, 18 James Dunn

Goals: Josh Casey 63’

Bookings: Josh Casey 59’

Hungerford Town FC 1 Michael Luyambula, 2 Marcus Johnson-Schuster, 3 Matt Jones, 14 James Rusby, 15 Marvel Ekpiteta (c), 6 Josh Martin, 7 Mike Jones (12 Callum Willmoth 88'), 8 Alfy Whittingham, 9 Danilo Orsi-Dadomo (17 Conor Lynch 81'), 10 Rhys Kavanagh (16 Richie Whittingham 90+3’), 11 Tom Anderson

Unused subs: 4 Tommy Ouldridge, 5 Charlie Ten-Grotenhuis

Goals: Whittingham 55’

Bookings: Ekpiteta 69', Whittingham 74'

Referee: Lee Brennan

Attendance: 507

Man of the Match: Armani Little – best player of the first half with his energy, aggression, winning of the ball in midfield, efforts on goals and distribution. Honourable mention for Moussa Diaby on his debut, solid at the back coming in for Cook and a threat at numerous set pieces.
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