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Brian Caffarey - 15th December 2007

Hemel Hempstead Town 0 Woking 1
FA Trophy, 4th Round
15 December 2007

One moment of sheer class from Kevin James ? a 25 yard swerving shot into the top right-hand corner in the 73rd minute ? saw Woking safely through to the next round of the Trophy at a bitterly cold Vauxhall Road this afternoon. The Cards made heavy weather of this contest, though, with Liam Marum spurning several excellent chances.

Woking?s resources were stretched again for this game, with Marvin Morgan and Matt Pattison suspended and Bradley Quamina injured, and a stomach bug confining Giuseppe Sole to the bench. Matt Ruby, who had also been ill, was pressed into action, though. Goma Lambu stepped in to replace Matt Pattison on the right of midfield, while Liam Marum started up front alongside Joe Gatting, playing the last game in his disappointing loan spell.

I missed the first couple of minutes thanks to a cretinous bus driver who attempted to direct us to Vicarage Road rather than Vauxhall Road! The early play set the pattern for much of the match, with Woking enjoying a lot of possession but failing to capitalise on their advantage. The Tudors? main threat came from the bullet-like long throws of Yiadom Yeboah but top scorer Drew Roberts also showed some promising touches.

Matt Gray had the first shot on goal after five minutes, putting a left-footed effort well wide. Roberts had a similar attempt at the other end. Adam Green found himself in good positions on the left on several occasions but seemed to delay his pass or shot, allowing defenders to block. Matt Gray too wasted some good positions with ill-directed passes.

Liam Marum?s first chance came in the 13th minute after a good interchange with the lively Goma Lambu. Liam took the ball down well on his chest before hitting the stanchion. After Joe Gatting had just failed to get on the end of a Matt Gray free-kick, Liam spurned an even better chance, once again hitting the stanchion with the goal at his mercy.

The Cards continued to have most of the play but without really troubling the Tudors? keeper. Tom Hutchinson was able to get only a little purchase on a toe poke in the box, and Adam Green?s delayed effort had the pace taken off it by a defender?s lunge.

Nick Gindre had to be quick off his line to kick clear from Drew Roberts on the half hour mark. The hosts went even closer a few minutes later when Nick had to palm Nathan Bowder-Haase?s header round the post.

Liam?s third ? admittedly more difficult ? chance fell five minutes from the interval when he put another Goma Lambu cross wide from a tight angle. The Tudors responded quickly as Chris Herron?s left-foot shot was parried by Nick Gindre.

Half-time: Hemel Hempstead Town 0 Woking 0

The early stages of the second half mirrored the first, with Woking making most of the running but not looking all that likely to score. Liam Marum worked himself into a good position but seemed reluctant to shoot when the opportunity briefly presented itself. Adam Green advanced into the box but pushed the ball too far forward and was blocked off by a defender. Matt Gray?s shot hit Joe Gatting but was going wide anyway.

Kevin James seemed to sense that his forwards looked unlikely to break the deadlock, putting a looped header onto the top of the bar. The Tudors, though, then had their best spell of the match and might easily have made Woking regret their toothlessness. A cross fizzed across the Cards? goalmouth, reaching the far post, where it was stabbed inches wide. A couple of minutes later Jay Gasson was forced to head off the line and then the Woking defence had to block two more close-range efforts before Roberts went down, appealing in vain for a penalty.

Woking seemed to be stung into action, launching a barrage of their own as the ball ping-ponged round the Hemel area and Tom Hutchinson, Kevin James and Joe Gatting, amongst others, fired off shots. The eventual clearance saw Nick Gindre having to race from his goal to kick the ball into touch.

The Woking fans? frustration ? eased only partly by the novelty of being allowed to drink beer on the terraces! ? grew as Matt Gray wasted a free-kick and Adam Green put in another weak cross but were eased as Kevin James produced a moment of magic. Seizing on a Tom Hutchinson flick-on, he rifled a swerving shot from 25 yards or so into the top right-hand corner of the Tudors? goal. For reasons best known to the referee, Kevin?s celebrations earned him a booking.

The Cards rode out the rest of the game fairly comfortably. The Tudors came closest to equalising in the 84th minute when a Drew Roberts? free-kick just outside the area had Nick Gindre scrambling to grab the loose ball. Matt Ruby also had to pull off a great smothering tackle to stem a breakaway. At the other end, Joe Gatting almost signed off with a goal as his header was well claimed by the keeper. Kevin James had a reasonable chance to add to his tally but his lob, with the keeper outside his area, was comfortably wide. In injury time Liam Marum missed the best chance of the game. One on one with the keeper, he had to slip it to his left or right but shot straight at him instead.

This was a game which the Cards should have won comfortably, given the amount of possession they had and the chances which fell their way. Fortunately, Hemel Hempstead were not of the same calibre as Staines, otherwise another cup exit might have ensued. The defence was solid again, though; Kevin James looked classy; and Goma Lambu sparkled on his return. Liam Marum at least got into some good positions, but his finishing left a lot to be desired, to put it mildly!

Woking: Nick Gindre, Matt Ruby, Tom Hutchinson, Jay Gasson, Danny Bunce; Goma Lambu, Matt Gray, Kevin James, Adam Green, Liam Marum, Joe Gatting

Unused subs: Ross Worner, Paul Lorraine, Izedin Harusha, Dean Lovegrove, Giuseppe Sole

Booked: Kevin James

Attendance: 453

My MOTM: My vote goes to Goma Lambu for a committed and lively performance on his return.
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