Brian Caffarey
12:00am, Sat 8th Dec 2007
Histon 0 Woking 1
8 December 2007

This was a fine win for the Cards against a side who stood in fifth place at the start of play. After an excellent first half, which the Cards dominated, they took the lead through a Giuseppe Sole penalty in the 60th minute but had to defend resolutely, and ride their luck at times, as the Stutes threw everything at them in the closing stages.

Cards fans feared a wash-out as they travelled through driving rain to the outskirts of Cambridge but the rain eased and the pitch turned out to be in remarkably good condition as Pat Jennings got proceedings under way with the opening of Histon?s new stand.

Woking lined up in a 4-4-2 formation. The defensive quartet comprised Matt Ruby, Tom Hutchinson, Jay Gasson and Danny Bunce. In midfield were Matt Pattison, Matt Gray, Kevin James and Adam Green, while Giuseppe Sole and Joe Gatting were up front.

The Cards stormed out of the starting blocks. Joe Gatting?s first-minute shot was deflected for a corner. Matt Ruby?s resulting effort was also deflected onto the bar for another corner, which then came off the far post, when only a touch seemed to be needed. Histon charged up the other end and Nick Gindre had to save smartly as Cliff Akurang got the better of Tom Hutchinson.

On a slippery pitch both sides tried to discomfort defenders by putting balls over the top. Woking were grateful to the linesman for a couple of offside decisions as Akurang and his partner Danny Wright were caught offside. A quick Woking break saw Kevin James power through the midfield before releasing Adam Green on his left but Adam?s disappointing cross went behind. Matt Gray, still looking a little rusty after his lay-off, was next in the action, seeing his shot blocked for yet another corner.

After this hectic opening, things quietened down a bit but on the quarter of an hour mark Matt Pattison headed firmly over when only a glance seemed to be needed and Kevin James was thwarted just as he lined up a shot with the Stutes? keeper way out of position. A minute later an excellent Woking move saw Gez Sole skip down the left flank, evading a tackle, before tearing into the box. Unfortunately, his finish was blocked by the advancing keeper, with Joe Gatting inside him looking as though he might have been the better option.

Woking continued to ask most of the questions, as Matt Pattison intercepted a pass on the half-way line and sped down the right. But neither Gez nor Joe
Gatting made it into the box to meet his inviting cross.

The Cards were nearly made to pay for failing to turn their pressure into goals when, in the 27th minute, Cliff Akurang spurned a glorious chance, heading over a superb cross from Nat Knight-Percival. Woking countered with fierce efforts from Matt Gray and Kevin James, both blocked. It was then the turn of the defence as Histon mounted some sustained attacks for the first time. Both Jay Gasson and Matt Ruby produced some important clearances before Adam Green shot wastefully after being nicely teed-up by Kevin James.

As the Cards went in at half-time they could reflect on one of their best ?halves? of the season but also on the fact that they had not turned chances into goals.

Half-time: Histon 0 Woking 0

Woking started the second half as they had finished the first. A clever back heel almost opened up the Stutes? defence and Matt Pattison?s shot was blocked. But Histon soon began to show more attacking intent with the combative Adrian Cambridge hitting a fine free-kick just over the bar from 30 yards out and another effort going just wide. Akurang then slalomed his way past several Woking defenders before serving up a weak effort.

Ironically, just as Histon seemed to be gaining a foothold, Woking took the lead in the 60th minute. Gez Sole, just outside the area, slipped the ball inside to Kevin James, who, with characteristic vision, moved it onto the advancing Adam Green. Adam?s shot from just inside the area probably wouldn?t have troubled the keeper but a Histon defender?s hand halted its flight. Penalty! Up stepped Gez Sole (pictured) to convert comfortably.

Not surprisingly, the hosts redoubled their efforts, with Murray flashing a shot just past the Woking goal. They were almost caught out, though, by a superb chip from Gez Sole which cleared the keeper but just floated wide of the goal.

The Woking defence was now coming under sustained pressure. Nick Gindre blocked a shot, with Akurang then putting the rebound just wide. There was another close shave as Nick missed his punch from a corner and a header went just over the bar. In the 75th minute the equaliser looked almost certain as a through ball sent Wright clear of the Woking defence but Nick Gindre, rushing off his line, probably did just enough to distract Wright, who put the ball wide. Woking continued to live dangerously as Murray?s bicycle-kick came off the foot of the Woking post.

Kevin James ? more influential again today ? went on a surging run through the middle of the Stutes? defence, only to see his shot deflected for a corner. With a few minutes remaining, Histon threw everything at the Cards? defence. Tom Hutchinson cleared superbly for a corner, whilst another effort was blocked by the Cards? defence. But Histon had another great chance on the stroke of full-time when, in a virtual replay of Wright?s earlier miss, Murray prodded just wide with only the onrushing Nick Gindre to beat. As the four minutes of added time slowly slipped by, the resolute Woking defence had yet more work to do as Nick Gindre punched clear and another Histon shot was blocked before the referee finally signalled that the three points belonged to Woking.

The Woking side, following their successive victories over Ebbsfleet and Croydon, looked visibly more confident and composed, especially in the first half when they combined enterprising attacking play with sensible control. The defensive quartet were excellent; Kevin James showed his class again in midfield, with good support from his colleagues; and Gez Sole and Joe Gatting worked hard up front. Let?s hope this encouraging display gives added confidence for the tough fixtures coming up in the next few weeks.

Woking: Nick Gindre, Matt Ruby, Tom Hutchinson, Jay Gasson, Danny Bunce; Matt Pattison, Matt Gray, Kevin James, Adam Green; Giuseppe Sole (Liam Marum, 86), Joe Gatting

Subs not used: Ross Worner, Paul Lorraine, Goma Lambu, Izedin Harusha

Booked: Jay Gasson, Matt Pattison, Kevin James, Joe Gatting

Attendance: 887

My MOTM: a difficult choice but my vote goes again to Jay Gasson for some superb defending, in the air and on the ground.

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