Brian Caffarey
12:00am, Sun 23rd Sep 2007
Burton Albion 2 Woking 0
22 September 2007

Woking must have a lot of players who yearn to don the yellow jersey! In a virtual repeat of the incident in Tuesday?s game at Crawley Town, the Cards conceded an early penalty and had a player sent off as a result of an attempted save. It was a great pity since a very gutsy display followed, with Woking creating several chances to pull a goal back, but in the end it wasn?t enough to prevent a solid-looking Burton side from claiming all three points.

Matt Ruby, as expected, replaced the suspended Paul Lorraine in central defence. Bradley Quamina made a welcome return from injury in midfield, partnering Kevin James and Matt Pattison, with Danny Bunce and Goma Lambu as wing backs, while Marvin Morgan was rested, allowing Paul Hakim to partner Joe Gatting up front.

Both sides were quickly in attacking mode, with Shaun Harrad firing a vicious shot just past Nick Gindre?s post and Kevin James replying, rather less threateningly, at the other end. Joe Gatting then burst into the Brewers? area but was foiled by a superb tackle from the hugely impressive John Brayford. A few minutes later, Brayford made another fine tackle as Paul Hakim lined up to shoot.

Woking?s promising start was then undone by an incident in the 13th minute that changed the whole course of the game. After Nick Gindre pushed a long-range effort over the bar the resulting corner was headed goalwards by an unmarked Mark Greaves at the far post. Joe Gatting on the line instinctively stuck out a hand ? just as Paul Lorraine had done at Crawley Town on Tuesday evening. The ball appeared to be well over the line in spite of Nick Gindre?s legitimate helping hand but, when the referee looked to his assistant, no goal was given. The referee had no option but to halt play, award a penalty and send off the culprit. Unfortunately, he clearly had no idea who it was! Chaos ensued as Matt Ruby was shown the red card and eventually left the field, notwithstanding all the protests. Daryl Clare had waited patiently to take the kick and made no mistake. 1-0 to the Brewers and the Cards were down to ten men again.

As Woking?s heads dropped Burton went for the kill, tearing into the Cards? defence from all angles. Cobbett and Harrad went close, and Clare would have had a free header if Harrad?s cross hadn?t sailed over him. More Burton pressure followed as Keith Gilroy, teasing Goma Lambu out on the right, and Greaves and Brayford failed to take their chances.

There was a brief respite as a Burton defender nearly turned Goma Lambu?s cross into his own goal and Tom Hutchinson?s header from the resulting corner arced towards the far corner. A brilliant point-blank save by Nick Gindre prevented a certain goal by Harrad after a clever Gilroy chip had put him one-on-one, but Nick?s heroics were in vain. After Greaves had put another free header over the bar, Daryl Clare showed all his experience in stealing a yard of space from Kevin James and Jay Gasson and planting a shot just inside Nick?s near post to give the Brewers the vital second goal.

At 2-0 down and with ten men, Woking now had a mountain to climb but they showed that they were not entirely out of it as Paul Hakim nearly latched onto a deflected shot from Matt Pattison, and then Matt made a fine, weaving run only to serve up a weak finish. But the Brewers might easily have got the killer third goal as Corbett put another header over the bar and Nick Gindre had to race off his line to boot the ball clear.

Half-time: Burton Albion 2 Woking 0

Frank Gray re-shuffled the pack at half-time and clearly did so to good effect since the Cards looked much more cohesive and came very close to getting themselves back into the game. Jerome Maledon ? on in place of Joe Gatting ? moved to the right back berth, allowing Goma Lambu to move forward into a more attacking role on the right flank, whilst Matt Pattison moved out left. Woking now had some width, giving defenders and midfielders outlets on both flanks.

An excellent chance fell to Paul Hakim three minutes in, as he seized on a chipped pass but his weak-ish shot hit the keeper and, although it rolled towards the line, was easily intercepted by a defender. Burton seemed to have taken their foot off the pedal and lost some momentum as Gilroy was replaced by Goodfellow. Nevertheless, with a man advantage, and switching the point of attack from side to side, they still put the Cards? defence under considerable pressure at times.

A double substitution in the 66th minute saw Ryan Taylor come on for Daryl Clare and Marvin Morgan replace Paul Hakim. Almost immediately Marvin lobbed a ball through for Matt Pattison to get behind the defence but, although his shot beat the keeper, once more it failed to carry beyond a covering defender. At the other end Ryan Taylor missed a glorious chance to wrap the game up as he skewed horribly wide after Nick Gindre had rushed out and completely missed his kick.

In the 74th minute Giuseppe Sole came on for a visibly-tiring Matt Pattison. Woking continued to make headway, especially through Goma Lambu and colleagues down the right flank, but it was Danny Bunce who came closest to scoring as he made a typical run into the box. His shot was pushed round by keeper Poole but the referee unaccountably ignored his assistant?s indication of a corner.

With Burton fans becoming a bit impatient at their team?s inability to build on their half-time lead, Kevin James produced a superb run through the middle of the Brewers? defence, leaving several defenders in his wake. He shaped to curl the ball inside the post, but it went narrowly wide. Woking maintained their strong finish as Giuseppe Sole hit a first-time volley which, unfortunately, went straight to the keeper, and James had another effort in injury time.

So, this was another intensely frustrating outing for the Cards. It seemed even more frustrating than the trip to Crawley in the sense that, had a goal been awarded instead of a penalty, the Cards would at least have retained eleven men on the pitch. Moreover, they showed in patches that they could produce some decent attacking football. You feel that if more of the players could ?click? at the same time we might just pull off a really good result. Certainly, Kevin James, Matt Pattison, Danny Bunce, Goma Lambu and Marvin Morgan all showed up well intermittently and could have caused serious problems for Burton if we hadn?t shot ourselves in the foot early on. But our normally solid defence is looking a little battle weary, with Jay Gasson going through a difficult spell and Tom Hutchinson looking less commanding than usual, particularly on the deck.

Let?s hope that we can avoid any self-inflicted disasters on Tuesday against Exeter City and ? even better ? produce a display that matches the potential that we have shown fleetingly.

Woking: Nick Gindre, Matt Ruby, Tom Hutchinson, Jay Gasson, Goma Lambu, Kevin James, Bradley Quamina, Matt Pattison (Giuseppe Sole, 74),Danny Bunce, Joe Gatting (Jerome Maledon, 45), Paul Hakim (Marvin Morgan, 67)

Subs not used: Carl Gibbs, Izedin Harusha

Sent off: Matt Ruby

Booked: Danny Bunce, Marvin Morgan

Attendance: 1501

My MOTM: Kevin James (pictured)

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