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John Moore - 6th December 2007

Croydon 0 Woking 4
Surrey Senior Cup
5 December 2007

Following last season?s embarrassing banana skin moment at Merstham in the same competition, it was with some relief that the Cards managed to avoid a similar fate this season, comfortably defeating their lower league opponents, without too much difficulty.

Despite Croydon being several rungs down the pyramid beneath us, given the small size of the first team squad, Frank Gray didn?t have too much scope to make many changes from the side that earned a much-needed victory against Ebbsfleet last week. Although Pattison was rested, together with James, Gatting and Maledon, the line-up had a familiar look about it and wasn?t far off being the Cards? first eleven. Hutchinson returned to play alongside Gasson, with Ruby and Bunce playing the full-back roles, as the manager resisted any temptation to revert to playing three at the back. Likewise, there were four in midfield, consisting of Lambu, Matt Gray, Quamina and Green. Liam Marum was given a welcome start and was paired with Sole in attack.

In the opening exchanges, Croydon appeared determined not to be put to the sword and the Cards survived an early scare when a dangerous-looking ball fizzed across the box, with no one able to get on the end of it.

However, slowly but surely the Cards began to gain the upper hand and opened the scoring after thirteen minutes. Following a poor clearance, which Lambu intercepted, he was able to get in a cross that pin-balled off a defender and Marum and fell invitingly for Sole, who thumped the ball home, with the ball taking a slight deflection en route.

Any chance of an upset disappeared seven minutes later when Woking added a second goal, courtesy of a solo effort from Marum. A long through ball was played over the top to Marum, who chased the ball down, cut inside and hit his shot low and hard, and although the keeper got a hand to it, he couldn?t prevent it nestling in the corner of the net.

The only real blot on the night occurred in the thirtieth minute, when Quamina had to be substituted and was replaced by James, following a heavy tackle near the touchline. By the way he hobbled back to the dressing room at half-time, it will be surprising if he?ll be fit to face Histon on Saturday.

The stoppage didn?t halt the Cards? momentum and they nearly added goal number three, when the ever-dangerous Hutchinson got in a strong header from a corner, only for a Croydon player to head it off the line.

On the stroke of half-time, Croydon had a good opportunity to retrieve something from the half, when John found himself in the clear, but lacked any composure and blazed miles over the bar, even achieving the feat of missing the athletics track behind the goal, that runs around the pitch.

Half-time: Croydon 0 Woking 2

Frank Gray made only one change during the interval, bringing on Joe Gatting to replace Sole. He was quickly into the action, bringing the ball down smartly with his back to goal, turning sharply and firing just past the post.

The Cards then had two further opportunities in quick succession to add to their tally. The first fell to Gasson, who forced the keeper into a point-blank save from a close-range header. This was followed by Marum, who was clean through but finished disappointingly in similar fashion to his effort in the dying minutes of the last match against Ebbsfleet, by putting the ball wide of the left-hand post.

Fortunately, the same player made amends, winning a penalty in the sixty-fifth minute, as a result of a strong run into the box. Gatting took the spot-kick, and finished with aplomb, driving the ball confidently home.

Gatting then spurned a glorious chance to add to his tally, by heading past the post when completely unmarked from a Ruby cross.

Croydon were now visibly tiring and unable to make the Cards pay for their profligacy. It therefore came as no surprise that Woking added a fourth before the final whistle, although the identity of the scorer and the manner in which the chance was taken had many fans rubbing their eyes in disbelief. James sent a long raking pass out wide to find Gray, who put in a low cross, which found Gasson lurking at the far post and he finished in style, with a somewhat nonchalant, deft flick.

This was a useful run out for the Cards, especially for the likes of Marum and Gray, who, having been injured, haven?t played much competitive football recently. The early goal steadied any nerves and avoided any chance of an upset. Although the Cards were always in control, they didn?t keep possession or pass the ball as well as they?d probably have liked, and they also weren?t always as ruthless as they should have been in front of goal, which was something of a missed opportunity to build up their confidence in that area.

Woking will be at home to Walton Casuals in the next round.

Woking: Gindre, Ruby, Gasson, Hutchinson, Bunce, Lambu, Quamina (James), Gray, Green (Harusha), Sole (Gatting), Marum.

Subs not used: Worner, Lovegrove

MOTM. For his goal alone, particularly the manner of the finish, it has to be Jay Gasson (pictured). Aside from that, he was very steady in defence and is a big reason why we?ve looked solid at the back this season.

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