FOREST GREEN ROVERS 2 WOKING 1
12:00am, Fri 21st Mar 2008
Forest Green Rovers 2 Woking 1
21 March 2008
This was another game from which the Cards were unfortunate to come away empty-handed. Until the 86th minute it looked as though they would garner a deserved point but a fine move saw top scorer Stuart Fleetwood grab all three points for Rovers with a classy finish.
On a cold and blustery afternoon the Cards lined up, in a 4-4-2 formation, with the same side that started the second half in Tuesday evening?s dramatic encounter with Aldershot Town. It was greatly to the players? credit that they showed no signs of ill effects from that exhausting clash, although the Morgan/Norville partnership up front looked a pale shadow on this occasion.
The opening play was fairly evenly balanced, with both sides getting in threatening crosses from the flanks. In the 9th minute Ross Worner ? having another outstanding game ? did well to palm a fierce shot wide. The Rovers keeper responded by doing the same to a Giuseppe Sole free-kick. Another Sole effort was deflected for a corner, as was another free-kick a few minutes later.
But there were already signs that Rovers would cause problems down the wings, as the speedy Afful and Welsh tested Danny Bunce and Damian Batt. Fortunately, Jay Gasson was in good form, frequently coming to the rescue.
Ross excelled himself again with a great save from Fleetwood in the 22nd minute after Rigoglioso had delivered a deft through ball with the outside of his foot. Even Fleetwood applauded Ross?s heroics. Thirty seconds later Ross was acrobatically diving to punch clear another dangerous attack.
Midway through the half the Cards had a sustained attacking spell. Gez Sole slipped a lovely ball through to Jason Norville. Advancing into the box, Jason seemed reluctant to shoot and was eventually crowded out by two defenders. A combination of Matt Gray and Matt Pattison managed to flick the resulting corner goalwards before the latter and Marvin Morgan had shots blocked.
But Rovers countered decisively. Afful rode two tackles down the Woking left flank before crossing to Rigoglioso, whose deflected shot looped over the diving Worner to put Rovers 1-0 up.
Woking continued to battle it out and got their deserved reward in the 40th minute. A long Worner punt led to Gez Sole being bundled over just outside the area. Damian Batt?s excellent free-kick curled into the corner of the Rovers? goal, just eluding their keeper?s dive.
Rovers nearly regained the lead just before half-time when a rare slip by Jay Gasson allowed Fleetwood in but Ross saved a certain goal with another first-rate save.
Half-time: Forest Green Rovers 1 Woking 1
The second half continued in a similar vein, with some slick approach play from Rovers, adept at keeping possession, while the Cards worked hard, offering a threat too, if more sporadically. Marvin Morgan?s header was collected under the bar by the keeper, who had then had to make an even better save as Gez Sole?s scooped shot headed for the top corner. From the corner Tom Hutchinson?s header was nearly deflected in.
At the other end, though, Fleetwood ? with a regular supply of clever through balls from Rigoglioso ? demanded top-class defending from Jay Gasson and Danny Bunce to deny him space in the box.
Jason Norville?s turn and shot in the area called for a comfortable save, while Ross gathered cleanly after Welsh had rounded Damian Batt and pulled the ball back to Rigoglioso. In the 74th minute a Gez Sole break was abruptly halted by a foul twenty-five yards out. Damian Batt insisted on taking the free-kick, which was on target but did not have enough power to threaten the Rovers? goal. A few minutes later the Woking fans celebrated prematurely as a Tom Hutchinson header, helped on by a team mate, found the net but the assistant referee?s flag had been raised, presumably for offside.
With the minutes ticking down Ross was called into action again as he blocked another close-range effort from Fleetwood. Stonehouse looked certain to score from the rebound but hit it tamely and Ross, recovering quickly, managed to pounce on the ball before it reached the line. Marvin Morgan sprang to life with a run and shot over the bar and Liam Marum (on for Jason Norville) went on a mazy run only to be foiled in the box. But in the 86th minute Fleetwood finally unlocked the Cards? defence. Another dinked ball over the top had Tom Hutchinson stretching. Fleetwood turned him on the inside, shot instantaneously and found the perfect spot, just inside the far post, giving Ross no chance.
So, the Cards have now gone seven league games without a win. And yet this was a fine performance against a very decent side, who just had that extra bit of quality, especially where it really counted. Let?s hope that the team finally gets some reward for their efforts on Monday.
Woking: Ross Worner; Damian Batt, Tom Hutchinson, Jay Gasson, Danny Bunce; Matt Pattison, Bradley Quamina, Matt Gray, Giuseppe Sole; Jason Norville (Liam Marum, 67), Marvin Morgan
Unused subs: Nick Gindre, Matt Ruby, Goma Lambu, Adam Green
Booked: Danny Bunce
My MOTM: Ross Worner (pictured) ? another hugely impressive display from a young keeper who shows great composure and ability.