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Brian Caffarey - 1st March 2008

Rushden and Diamonds 2 Woking 1
1 March 2008

The Cards slumped to their third successive league defeat at Nene Park this afternoon. Woking flattered to deceive with a brilliant opening goal from Matt Pattison in the third minute but it was nearly all downhill thereafter as the Cards were forced back in defence and Rushden ran out comfortable winners.

Ross Worner continued in goal, with Jay Gasson brought in on the left of a four-man defence, presumably to counter the aerial threat of Andy Burgess. Danny Bunce was on the left of midfield and Liam Marum retained his place up front alongside Marvin Morgan.

On a bright, breezy afternoon, on a fine playing surface, the Cards got off to the best of possible starts. Marvin Morgan cleverly made space near the left touchline before spreading a pass out wide right to Matt Pattison. A defender ought probably to have intercepted but Matt made the most of his good fortune. Advancing, he let fly with an unstoppable shot from 25 yards into the top far corner of the goal to give the Cards a 1-0 lead with only three minutes on the clock.

Danny Bunce put in a fine cross, which nearly reached Matt Pattison but it wasn?t long before the Diamonds began to start calling the tunes. A lively midfield of Curtis Woodhouse and Marcus Kelly began to get the ball forward to the skilful Jon Challinor, playing up front alongside the bustling Michael Rankine, whilst Andy Gooding was always available on the right wing. Initially, the Woking rearguard managed to keep Ross Worner well protected, although Paul Lorraine had to hurl himself in front of Chris Hope to block a shot after the ball had been nodded down in the penalty area. But as the minutes ticked by the Woking defence came under increasing pressure until, eventually, it seemed only a matter of time before the equaliser came. At the other end, neither Liam Marum, back to his more frustrating form, nor Marvin Morgan could hold the ball up for any length of time and were able to make little headway. But a half-chance arose in the 28th minute as Danny Bunce chased a through ball, forcing the keeper to clear hurriedly to Marvin Morgan. Marvin attempted to burst through the middle but was thwarted on the edge of the box.

The Diamonds upped the pressure. Paul Lorraine reacted superbly to head clear and then Tom Hutchinson hoofed from under the bar when a goal seemed certain. An Andy Burgess header cannoned off the bar a few seconds later. Matt Ruby cleared untidily from a corner, with Paul Lorraine again saving the day, at the cost of a boot in his face. A brief, well-crafted Woking move between Liam Marum, Marvin Morgan and Matt Pattison was quickly followed by the inevitable equalising goal. Paul Lorraine was unlucky as the ball ricocheted off him into the path of Challinor, who made no mistake from just inside the area.

Liam Marum almost restored the lead a minute later as a Matt Gray pass bisected the Diamonds? defence. He shaped to curl the ball past the Diamonds? keeper but perhaps ?telegraphed? his intentions and the keeper made a fine save. The Cards never really looked like scoring after that.

More Diamonds? pressure followed but the majestic Tom Hutchinson saved the day once more after a scramble in the box, followed by a long-range Challinor effort, which went comfortably over the bar.

Half-time: Rushden and Diamonds 1 Woking 1

Damian Batt came on for Paul Lorraine after the break: Paul had been off the pitch with a cut on his head just before half-time. Again, Woking started the half brightly, with an excellent cross from Matt Gray which didn?t quite reach Matt Pattison. But the impetus was soon back with Rushden as Rankine made a powerful run through the middle, which was only halted by Matt Ruby?s clearance for a corner. A couple of decent crosses from Damian Batt and Liam Marum came to nought before Rushden resumed their offensive. In what proved to be a rehearsal for Rushden?s winning goal Marcus Kelly played Dean Howell inside Damian Batt for a dangerous cross, whilst Jon Challinor?s effort drifted over the bar. Liam Marum was played in behind the Diamonds? defence by Matt Gray but volleyed wildly over the stand. Challinor continued to be at the heart of all Diamonds? best moves and would have caused even more damage but for some excellent covering by Tom Hutchinson. Once again, a goal seemed only a matter of time as the Woking defence came under increasing pressure. Several corners were conceded and Ross Worner wasn?t able to hold the ball cleanly at the second attempt after a finger-tip interception from a corner.

When Rushden?s winning goal came in the 72nd minute it resulted from some poor defending by Damian Batt. He took his eye off the ball to concede a throw-in and was then caught out as the ball was played inside him once more. Howell?s cross was too inviting to miss as Rankine buried it from a couple of yards out.

Frank Gray brought on Jason Norville and Giuseppe Sole for Liam Marum and Matt Gray but to no avail. Jason had one decent chance on the edge of the box as the ball squirmed through to him unexpectedly but his shot was blasted over the bar. A couple of corners on the stroke of full-time provided a glimmer of hope but the Diamonds? keeper collected cleanly. In injury time substitute Ademeno nearly increased Rushden?s lead. His speed left the central defenders in his wake as he chased a through ball. Ross Worner did well to push the ball away as he dived at his feet. Ademeno then looked certain to score as he made space but Ross blocked brilliantly and then finally grabbed the third tame effort. Ross was slightly more fortunate when another clearance smacked into Ademeno, who made the most of the opportunity to waste time before the referee signalled the end of a disappointing afternoon for Woking fans.

Once again, the Cards seemed unable to exert any real control of the game in midfield. Oh for a Dereck Brown, a Steve Thompson or an Andy Ellis to get control of the ball, to pass it cleanly and to take the game to the opposition! Up front too the Morgan/Marum partnership failed to sparkle. Let?s hope we can do better next Saturday at home to Stafford Rangers ? otherwise it could be a disappointing end to the league season.

Woking: Ross Worner, Matt Ruby, Paul Lorraine (Damian Batt, 46), Tom Hutchinson, Jay Gasson; Matt Pattison, Matt Gray (Giuseppe Sole, 79), Bradley Quamina, Danny Bunce; Liam Marum (Jason Norville, 73), Marvin Morgan

Subs not used: Goma Lambu, Adam Green

Attendance: 1335

My MOTM: Tom Hutchinson (pictured) ? by a mile.
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