WOKING 2 STEVENAGE BOROUGH 1
12:00am, Sun 23rd Dec 2007
Woking 2 Stevenage Borough 1
Setanta Shield, Fourth Round
22 December 2007
The Cards gave their fans an early Christmas present, with a well-deserved win against our fierce local rivals from Hertfordshire in the inaugural Setanta Shield. A goal from Liam Marum and a Christmas cracker from Gez Sole ensured that the Cards will be able to go into the clash on Boxing Day, against top-of-the-table Aldershot, full of confidence.
Not surprisingly, with key games coming up very shortly against the top two sides in the league, Frank Gray made several changes to the team that last week put out Hemel Hempstead in the FA Trophy. Ross Worner replaced Nick Gindre in goal, Paul Lorraine came in for Jay Gasson to play alongside Tom Hutchinson in defence, Matt Pattison returned on the right, replacing Goma Lambu, and Marvin Morgan came in for Joe Gatting, following his return to Brighton.
Stevenage also took the opportunity to make changes, with their side containing a mixture of first team players and reserves. They had two familiar faces in their squad: Paul Hakim, who was of course on loan with us earlier in the season and started this game up front for them, and former Woking favourite, Luke Oliver, who found himself on the bench.
Right from the kick-off, the game had the tempo and tackling more akin to a pre-season friendly, with both sides giving the distinct impression that, although they?d like to win, other competitions had greater priority. The relaxed atmosphere that the game was played in was rather summed up very early on when, shortly after the start, Tom Hutchinson took it upon himself to turn into a left winger and his endeavours earned the Cards an early corner that came to nothing. This was followed by an ambitious overhead kick from Matt Gray that had the Stevenage reserve keeper nervously scrambling backwards as it just cleared the bar.
On fifteen minutes, Stevenage were a finger tip away from opening the scoring. The impressive Liptak in midfield broke clear of James and from some distance forced Worner into a magnificent save, as he just managed, at full stretch, to turn away his fierce drive round the post.
The was the cue for Stevenage to start to stroke the ball around nicely, but for all their crisp passing, for the remainder of the half, they didn?t really cause the Cards? defence, as ever led by the imperious Hutchinson, any particular problems.
In fact, just before half-time, the Cards almost took the lead. Gray and Morgan linked up well on the left-hand side, and Gray?s curling shot from distance produced a good sprawling save from Russell, low down to his left.
Half-time: Woking 0 Stevenage Borough 0
Woking raised their tempo after the break, with both Gray and James becoming more assertive in midfield, and were rewarded by taking the lead after fifty minutes. Marum, who looked sharp and powerful throughout, found himself in space just outside the penalty area. He took the opportunity to go on a forceful run into the box and from a tight angle struck a powerful low drive that seemed to catch Russell out at his near post, and it found its way into the net.
Although Stevenage immediately changed things around with a triple substitution, the Cards almost doubled their lead, when Marvin Morgan broke clear, only to be thwarted by an excellent save from Russell.
The tie was then made safe, not for the first time in spectacular style, by Sole, who?d just come on to replace Marum. The Cards had just been awarded a free-kick about twenty-five yards out when he made his entrance. He strode up to the ball with a sense of purpose and with power and pace expertly bent the ball over the wall into the top corner. It was a goal that was very reminiscent of many of his pulchritudinous efforts last season.
Stevenage, now with nothing to lose, threw extra bodies forward and almost pulled a goal back, when Oliver found himself one-on-one with Worner, who dived bravely at his feet to prevent him scoring.
However, just when it looked as though the Cards would keep yet another clean sheet, in added time Henry got on the end of a knock-down following a deep cross to the far post to coolly slot home.
Although this wasn?t Stevenage?s strongest side and the game lacked the usual intensity that exists when these two sides meet, nonetheless, Woking deserved their victory. They just had that little bit extra punch up front, with Marum in particular causing problems when he ran at their defence with pace. In defence, the Cards looked their usual solid self and whenever danger did occasionally threaten Worner, particularly for one so young and inexperienced, always looked composed and dealt very competently with anything that came his way. Here?s hoping they can build on this result to perform well in the forthcoming important games over the holiday period against Aldershot and Torquay.
Woking: Worner, Ruby (Quamina), Lorraine, Hutchinson, Bunce, Gray, James, Green, Pattison (Lambu), Marum (Sole), Morgan.
Unused subs: Gindre, Gasson
MOTM: My vote goes to Liam Marum (pictured), who today looked very sharp and also got on the score-sheet to complement a fine overall performance. After a lengthy spell out of the side with injury, it?s good to see him beginning to get back to the form that he?s capable of.