Brian Caffarey
12:00am, Tue 9th Oct 2007
Stevenage Borough 1 Woking 1
9 October 2007

Frank Gray?s team produced a magnificent performance this evening to rank alongside other great displays by Woking sides at Broadhall Way over the years. In an exhilarating, pulsating game the Cards recovered from a shaky start, conceding a goal in the 5th minute, to more than match the much-fancied home side and, with greater composure up front, might even have snatched all three points. The prolonged ovation from Cards fans at the end was richly deserved.

On a greasy pitch after heavy rain, the Cards lined up as expected, with Marvin Morgan replacing the ineligible Paul Hakim up front and Matt Ruby continuing to deputise superbly for injured skipper Tom Hutchinson.

Few Woking fans could have expected such a satisfying outcome to the evening as the Boro forwards tore into the Woking defence, the tricky Mitchell Cole and Craig Dobson slicing through the back line and putting cross after cross into Steve Morison. Ironically, though, the first chance fell to Woking as keeper Alan Julian made a hash of a clearance and planted the ball straight to Joe Gatting. Joe fired from distance as Julian scrambled back but his shot was blocked by a defender.

Stevenage?s goal was all too easily gained. McMahon made space on the Woking right, slid the ball across to the advancing Dobson at the far post, who had no difficulty in stroking the ball home. Accusing fingers were pointed at the lack of cover from Danny Bunce ? a shame, because he proceeded to play out of his skin for the rest of the half and beyond.

Kevin James responded with a long-range effort which drifted wide of the upright and Marvin Morgan went on a typical charge through the middle but finished weakly. But it was all Stevenage apart from that. It seemed only a matter of time before the inevitable second goal would arrive as Morison headed onto the roof of the net with Gindre beaten and then glanced a cross just wide before John Martin blazed well over after having been teed up beautifully by Cole.

Woking stuck to their guns and, in the 18th minute, an equaliser came almost out of the blue. Matt Ruby?s first header from a corner was cleared off the line but he made no mistake with the second header, planting it into the roof of the net. How satisfying it must have been for a player who?s come through the Woking ranks to score such a vital goal at Broadhall Way!

The Cards had to endure a few more minutes of intense Stevenage pressure, with Morison and Cole both going close, before the tide began to turn decisively in their favour. In the 25th minute Joe Gatting seized on a Marvin Morgan flick-on but skewed wide. However, this was quickly followed by a ferocious effort from Kevin James, which flew just over the bar, after great build-up play from Matt Pattison; Goma Lambu flashed a fine cross inches ahead of Joe Gatting; and then Woking had another header cleared off the line. Boro?s only response was a header from Morison from a Cole chip, but it lacked sufficient power to trouble Nick Gindre. And so the half ended, remarkably, with Woking in the ascendancy.

Half-time: Stevenage Borough 1 Woking 1

The second period started tetchily with Jay Gasson and Marvin Morgan (unnecessarily) quickly finding their way into the referee?s book. Nick Gindre parried away a pile driver from Morison before Marvin Morgan had a clear penalty refused after he had been manhandled in the box by Ronnie Henry. Woking continued to make most of the running, with Goma Lambu surging up from right back to put in several telling crosses, from one of which Joe Gatting got a header on target. A sign that things were not going well for Boro was Mark Stimson?s decision to make a double substitution but it seemed to make no difference to the pattern of the game.

The game continued to switch from end to end as the Cards cleared off the line after Morison had eluded Nick Gindre on the edge of the area and chipped in a cross to the penalty spot, and Marvin Morgan, showing exceptional pace, slid a Gatting cross just wide of the post.

From about the 70th minute onwards it seemed as though the Woking side, who had worked prodigiously, began to tire noticeably. Increasingly the ball was being cleared hurriedly and given away, while the forwards were unable to hold the ball up or put the Boro defence under as much pressure. But the substitutions of Jerome Maledon for Matt Pattison and Giuseppe Sole for Joe Gatting seemed to produce a bit more energy. Both substitutes were quickly into action with Jerome getting into shooting positions twice and Gez latching onto the end of a free-kick, only to see his flick go straight into Julian?s arms.

With five minutes remaining Gez and Marvin had a great opportunity to grab all three points. Breaking quickly, Marvin slid the ball through to Gez on the edge of the area. Gez tried to switch the ball onto his right foot but couldn?t create the opening for a shot and passed out wide to Marvin, who had crept offside.

Marvin charged forward once more but his tired left-foot effort was well off target. There was still time for Matt Gray, a late substitute, to create an attack down the Woking left and for Stevenage to threaten once more as the ball bounced around the Woking area before finally being hacked clear.

This was a tremendous performance from Frank Gray?s side. They showed great character to bounce back from a disastrous start and played some excellent football at times. The defence rallied superbly; Kevin James pulled all the strings in midfield; Matt Pattison went on some surging runs; Goma Lambu worked his socks off in defence and attack; and Marvin Morgan and Joe Gatting always posed a threat up front. But, above all, it was a great team performance. On the evidence of tonight?s display, we are beginning to look like a side to be reckoned with.

Woking: Gindre, Gasson, Ruby, Lorraine, Lambu, Bunce, Quamina, James, Pattison (Maledon, 77), Morgan (Gray, 90) Gatting (Sole, 82 )

Subs not used: Marum, Green

Booked: Gasson, Morgan, Sole

Attendance: 3007

My MoTM: almost invidious to single out one person in such a great team effort but Kevin James (pictured) is making the midfield tick and seems to have been the key to our recent improved performances.

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