Boz's Fruit & Veg

Cards go top

Brian Caffarey
9:22pm, Sat 24th Aug 2019
Woking 2 Solihull Moors 0
Vanarama National League
24 August 2019

Top of the league – at least until Monday afternoon! No one – not even the most ardent Cards fan – would have bet on that at the beginning of the season. But another excellent team performance saw Alan Dowson’s side deservedly dislodge the Moors from the top spot this afternoon, inflicting on them their first defeat of the campaign. The Cards quickly took control with early goals from Jake Hyde and Manny Parry. As in previous victories, there was a spell – the first 20 minutes or so of the second half – when the side had to withstand heavy pressure. But thanks to some solid defending, and the Moors’ failure to take several presentable chances, they came through to end up fairly comfortable winners.

On a baking hot afternoon, with a superb playing surface, Dowse made one change from the side that began the impressive away win at AFC Fylde a week ago, with Hyde coming in for Ibrahim Meite. Moussa Diarra and Max Kretzschmar were again missing from the sixteen. Josh Casey once more moved inside in a 5-3-2 formation, with Tyreke Johnson acting as wing-back. Toby Edser was given a warm welcome following his return again on loan from Nottingham Forest.

Hyde immediately showed fine form in flicking the ball on for the hard-working Dave Tarpey, who was just foiled by the last defender. Thereafter the first ten minutes were uneventful and fairly even till the Moors’ defence made a hash of a lobbed ball forward from Shaun Donnellan. Hyde wasn’t in the mood to look a gift horse in the mouth and coolly slotted the ball past keeper Ryan Boot to give Woking a 1-0 lead in the 12th minute.

It got even better four minutes later. The Moors conceded an unnecessary corner, which Edser whipped in hard and low. Parry nudged in from virtually the goal line to double the lead.

The Cards continued to dominate, forcing several more corners and free-kicks, with blocked shots from Edser and Tarpey. At the back Ben Gerring headed and booted away everything that came anywhere near him, while the astute Casey swept up around him.

The first glimmer of a threat from Solihull came midway through the half when Craig Ross managed to toe-poke away a clever through ball from Darren Carter, doing just enough to disrupt the attack.

On the half-hour mark Tarpey turned superbly to make room for a shot but it was straight at the keeper. In another attack Jack Cook tore down down the right flank but elected to shoot when a cross to the arm-waving Hyde would have been the better option.

The arrival of the lanky Nathan Blissett for the injured Danny Wright in the Moors’ attack seemed to give the visitors a pre-interval boost, allied to Darren Carter’s clever prompting. Four Moors’ corners in quick succession produced headers from Liam Daly and a blocked shot from Carter. The pressure was partly relieved by an enterprising run by Kane Ferdinand but his cross was over-hit.

Half-time: Woking 2 Solihull Moors 0

Solihull came out for the second half clearly intent on pulling back an early goal. A huge leap from Blissett foreshadowed a number of attacks in which the Cards’ defence was put under considerable pressure. First, though, Tarpey thrilled the home crowd with a brilliant turn before flashing a shot just wide of the far post.

The Moors’ first real chance of the match came shortly afterwards when Paul McCallum, seizing on a flick-on, rounded Ross, only to find the side-netting. More half-chances followed, with McCallum winning several headers but unable to get sufficient ‘purchase’ to trouble Ross. Other efforts came from Williams and Hawkridge, though neither caused Ross to make other than routine saves.

The one-way traffic was briefly interrupted by a couple of Woking breaks upfield but both were spoiled by poor final balls.

In the 60th minute Ross had no chance as the influential Hawkridge, given too much space, let fly with a humdinger from outside the area, leaving the post rattling. Other chances followed as Blissett headed straight at Ross, Hawkridge shot wide, Ferdinand blocked a Carter strike on the edge of the box and McCallum headed wide again.

Johnson’s fine left-footed strike from distance, along with the fresh legs brought by Godfrey Poku’s arrival in place of the industrious Donnellan, seemed to signal that Woking had survived the post-interval onslaught. But, first, Woking had to be grateful for a huge let-off. Indecision between Ross and his central defenders let McCallum through but the former Eastleigh striker lifted the ball over the bar.

The Cards began to re-assert their authority in defence, while up front the wily Hyde’s ‘know how’ proved invaluable in holding up the ball, winning free-kicks and playing in team mates. And the likes of Edser and Johnson began to make forward progress again.

Into the final ten minutes of normal time defender Daly did well to carve out a shooting chance but it was comfortably taken by Ross at his near post. A Carter free-kick in the 87th minute produced another headed effort by McCallum but, once again, his task was made difficult by the close attentions of Woking defenders, resulting in another easy ‘take’ for Ross.

Meite, on for Tarpey, and Hyde ran down the clock in the corners before the Cards survived one last scare as Hancox blasted wide from another Daly knock-down.

This performance was very much in the mould of previous Woking victories this season. The foundation was a terrific all-round team performance. No one had less than a good game and there were outstanding performances from Hyde and Gerring in particular. The few chances that came Woking’s way were taken and obdurate defending – and the necessary slice of good fortune – enabled the defence to record another clean sheet against a side with a lot of firepower.

The Cards now head to Crabble on Monday: a ground which has usually proved a graveyard for previous Woking sides. A win there would certainly cause Woking fans to believe that this amazing start to the season was more than just a flash in the pan. I am sure, though, that, whatever the result, Dowse will keep the players’ feet firmly on the ground.

Woking: Craig Ross, Jack Cook, Manny Parry, Ben Gerring, Josh Casey, Tyreke Johnson, Shaun Donnellan (Godfrey Poku 67), Toby Edser (Nathan Collier 87), Kane Ferdinand, Jake Hyde, Dave Tarpey (Ibrahim Meite 74)

Unused subs: Sam Howes, Paul Hodges

Goals: Jake Hyde 12, Manny Parry 16

Booked: Kane Ferdinand, Godfrey Poku, Toby Edser

Solihull Moors: Ryan Boot, Tyrone Williams, Jamie Reckord (Mitch Hancox 62), Kyle Storer, Liam Daly, Alex Gudger, Jamie Osbourne (Terry Hawkridge 45), Darren Carter, Paul McCallum, Danny Wright (Nathan Blissett 37), Callum Howe

Unused subs: Lee Vaughan, Alec Nichol

Booked: Jamie Osbourne, Darren Carter, Paul McCallum

Sponsor’s (Lockstone London) Woking MOTM: Jake Hyde (pictured)

Attendance: 1997

Referee: Mr Sam Allison

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