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John Moore - 15th September 2007

Woking 2 Altrincham 0
Saturday, 15 September 2007

With both sides struggling at the bottom end of the table, it was tempting, even this early into the season, to label it as a six-pointer. Anyway, whatever the state of your glass, whether it?s half-full or half-empty, there was a tangible feeling of relief around Kingfield at the conclusion of this game as, at the fifth time of asking, the Cards secured their first home win of the season against lowly Altrincham, courtesy of a workmanlike performance, in a game that was generally lacking both in excitement and quality.

Following various additions to the squad this week, it was no surprise that Frank Gray made five changes to the side that lost in midweek away at Halifax. Out went Ruby and Pattison, the former injured and the latter suffering from flu, and Maledon, Gibbs and Sole were all relegated to the bench. There was a welcome return for fit-again skipper Hutchinson; Adam Green returned to the left wingback berth; there were debuts for Harusha and James in midfield; and another debutant, Joe Gatting, joined Morgan up front. The formation appeared to be 3-4-1-2, with Harusha playing just behind the front two and a new central midfield combination of Danny Bunce and Kevin James.

Both teams struggled to get going on a glorious hot, sunny afternoon, although the Cards were unfortunate not to take the lead after twelve minutes when Gatting had a powerful header cleared off the line, following a corner. Moments later, Altrincham had a half-chance that they failed to capitalise on, when Little had more time than he realised and rather snatched at a volley and blazed his shot over the bar.

On the half-hour mark, Marvin Morgan found himself on the edge of the box and his purposeful run took him right into the heart of Altrincham?s penalty area. He seemed to have rounded keeper Coburn, only to stumble at the crucial moment and, quite correctly, both the crowd?s and the players? rather optimistic appeals for a penalty were ignored by the referee.

With half-time approaching, Woking took the lead in rather fortuitous fashion. Following the award of a free-kick midway in the opponents? half, Danny Bunce floated the ball up towards the ever-dangerous aerial threat of Tommy Hutchinson. He beat the keeper?s punch and managed to get something on the ball. However, his header appeared to be going wide, when the ball inadvertently hit the unfortunate Darren Tinson?s boot and was diverted into the net.

Half-time: Woking 1 Altrincham 0

Almost immediately after the re-start, the Cards had two decent opportunities to stretch their lead further. First, following a corner, Gasson had a header that was somehow scrambled away, and it culminated in Morgan?s athletic attempt at an overhead kick, that just cleared the bar. This was almost immediately followed by Lorraine blazing over the bar from close range following a weak punch from Coburn that fell invitingly for him to strike.

The Cards nearly came to rue these missed opportunities when, following a long ball over the top, Gindre came rushing out only to barely make contact with the ball and it fell to the ever-alert Lorraine to save the day, with a timely tackle to prevent an equaliser.

There was a further scare in the seventy-fifth minute when Sedgemore struck a powerful free-kick that took a deflection and just missed the far post, with Gindre looking on anxiously.

Although it was hardly end-to-end stuff, the next opportunity came Woking?s way when, following a foul on Lambu, Green swung over a dangerous free-kick that Morgan managed to flick on with his head and it only narrowly missed the far post.

With Altrincham gamely never giving up their search for an equaliser, it took the Cards until the ninetieth minute to make the game totally safe by adding a second goal. Sole, who had earlier come on a substitute for the tiring Harusha, found himself in acres of space on the right and he bore down on goal and then selflessly laid the ball across and into the oncoming, unmarked Danny Bunce?s path and, from close range, Danny made no mistake, blasting the ball joyfully home, with Coburn having no chance of saving it.

Although it wasn?t pretty at times, this was a welcome win for the Cards and, on balance, they just about deserved the three points. It takes time for new players to gel but there were one or two encouraging signs that things will improve, particularly when Frank Gray has a fully-fit squad to choose from. Having the majestic Hutchinson back in defence makes a big difference, as did the composure of James in midfield, who did the simple things well and looks quite at home at this level and might make an ideal partner for Quamina in midfield. Up front, Gray now has some options and it?s a healthier situation now that there?s some competition for places.

Woking: Gindre, Gasson, Lorraine, Hutchinson, Green, James, Harusha (Sole 73), Bunce, Morgan (Maledon 87), Gatting (Hakim 68), Lambu.

Subs not used: Gibbs and Shin

Attendance: 1391

Bookings: Morgan

Sponsors? MoTM: Tom Hutchinson (pictured)

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