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Cards edged out again

Brian Caffarey - 6th December 2020

Cards edged out again Notts County 1 Woking 0
Vanarama National League
5 December 2020

The Cards suffered their second successive 1-0 loss late on in this game when substitute Enzo Boldewijn escaped the clutches of Jack Cook in the area to tee up Kyle Wootton for an easy finish past Craig Ross. The big number 9 had previously been thwarted from the spot by Ross after Cook had been harshly penalised in another ‘soft’ penalty incident. Woking, as they had throughout this tight encounter, battled hard but were never able to test Sam Slocombe, the Magpies’ keeper.

Dowse made two changes from the side which had lost at home midweek to Sutton United, bringing back Charlie Cooper in place of Nathan Collier after the former’s one-match suspension, and favouring Slavi Spasov ahead of Dave Tarpey.

On a dull, cold, still afternoon, at a ground fit to host football at a much higher level, the Cards started the better of the two sides, as their harrying forced the home side into errors. Spasov won a free-kick to the left of the area. Cooper’s fierce effort cannoned off a defender for a corner, to which Spasov got the slightest of touches. The young Bulgarian then went on a fine cross-field run before finding Max Kretzschmar out wide but the latter shot well over the bar. Next, the pacey Kyran Lofthouse intercepted and headed off on a touchline run which won another corner.

The Magpies were finding it hard to make progress from the back as Woking harried and closed down but there were signs that new loan signing Tom Walker could cause problems up against Josh Casey. It wasn’t till the 18th minute that County got going properly as a slick move nearly opened up the Cards’ defence before Cook just managed to get a foot in to prevent a strike on goal. A minute later, Walker, making space adroitly, fired just wide of the post. Another decent chance followed as Brindley crossed dangerously, with the ball somehow being scrambled away. A second Brindley cross resulted in a weak header to Ross soon afterwards.

Woking had to re-jig their midfield midway through the half when Kane Ferdinand limped off. Tarpey came on, taking up Kretzschmar’s role out wide right, while the latter moved inside.

Following the brief attacking flurry from County the game became fairly non-descript with neither side managing to make much impact. Tarpey failed to profit when in a good position out wide, also having a later shot blocked. For the home side, Wootton made space in the area but fired wide. A few minutes later, Walker dummied Casey before putting in a smart cross which Wootton couldn’t quite reach.

Woking’s best chance came in added time when Tarpey headed over at the back post after the ball had been flicked on from a corner. The half ended with Spasov appealing vainly, but unconvincingly, for a penalty as he hit the deck.

Half-time: Notts County 0 Woking 0
Spasov threatened early on in the second half at the end of a nice move but elected to try to take on a defender in the box when he looked to have been in a good shooting position.

County were then gifted a penalty. A bizarre ricochet suddenly put a County player in a dangerous position in the area, going to ground under Cook’s challenge. Even the County media people around me thought it was a very ‘soft’ penalty and justice was done when Ross (pictured) guessed right to palm away Wootton’s strike.

Cook sought to make amends with a surging run through midfield, feeding Kretzschmar, but his chipped cross provided an easy ‘take’ for the home keeper. The game settled back into a fairly attritional affair, with the Magpies now tending to be more direct than in the first half, while Woking’s attempts to supply Josh Davison were largely thwarted by the imposing County centre backs. Boldewijn’s overhead effort fell kindly for Ross while a good cut-back by Davison saw Cooper blaze high and wide. Several other Woking moves carried initial promise but failed to achieve any penetration.

No doubt the Cards would have been happy to see out a goal-less draw against a well-financed and much-fancied side but that hope was shattered in the 80th minute. Cook couldn’t prevent the wily Boldewijn from making sufficient room to open up a short pass to Wootton, presumably just onside, who had the easiest of finishes in a game in which he had hitherto been noticed for his missed chances.

Woking pressed for an equaliser but without ever really creating a clear opportunity. Matt Jarvis came on for the injured Spasov and, later, Jayden Wareham joined the fray in place of Ben Dempsey but neither was able to make an impact on a solid County defence. Cook, thrown forward, went down in the box but he and his teammates’ appeal for a penalty looked optimistic. Tarpey had a shot blocked and Lofthouse’s fine run earned a corner. But, with the Cards leaving themselves short at the back, County ought probably to have doubled their lead. A quick break out of defence was wasted and O’Brien’s and Reeves’s efforts were blocked. With the help of some time-wasting at short corners, the home side found it relatively easy to make sure of their narrow win and notch up three valuable points.

Woking will be disappointed not to have managed to hold onto a point, especially given the reprieve of a missed penalty. There was no shortage of effort or commitment but the side lacked that extra bit of quality in midfield and attack that was needed to open up a well-drilled County defence. The Cards must now hope to get something out of Tuesday night’s game at Altrincham.

Notts County: Sam Slocombe, Richard Brindley, Jake Reeves, Ben Turner, Michael Doyle, Kyle Wootton, Connell Rawlinson, Dion Kelly-Evans, Elisha Sam (Enzo Boldewijn 60), Ruben Rodrigues (Jim O’Brien 69), Tom Walker (Jimmy Knowles 81).

Unused subs: Luke Pilling, Adam Chicksen

Scorer: Kyle Wootton (80)

Booked: Kyle Wootton, Ruben Rodrigues

Woking: Craig Ross, Kyran Lofthouse, Saul Shotton, Jack Cook, Josh Casey, Max Kretzschmar, Kane Ferdinand (Dave Tarpey 27), Charlie Cooper, Ben Dempsey (Jayden Wareham 88), Slavi Spasov (Matt Jarvis 84), Josh Davison

Unused subs: Nathan Collier, Tommy Block

Booked: Josh Casey, Ben Dempsey

My MOTM: solid performances all round but Kyran Lofthouse played as well as anyone, defending efficiently and making some good attacking runs.
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