Brian Caffarey
12:00am, Sat 5th Apr 2008
Ebbsfleet United 1 Woking 1
5 April 2008

Quite how Ebbsfleet failed to win this game, Heaven knows! Woking were barely at the races in the second half until, with some three minutes of injury time gone, substitute Gez Sole latched onto a ball over the top and gained a very unlikely point.

With Matt Pattison suspended, Frank Gray went for a 5-3-2 formation. Tom Hutchinson, Paul Lorraine and Jay Gasson were flanked by Damian Batt and Danny Bunce, with a midfield trio of Matt Gray, Jerome Maledon and Goma Lambu and a front two of Marvin Morgan and Jason Norville.

The pattern of the game was established very quickly, with the Fleet doing most of the attacking, looking lively round the Woking box but failing to turn their dominance into goals. McPhee went close with a header, Barrett volleyed over and Bostwick fired wide after good work from Purcell. A rare Woking effort on goal saw Marvin Morgan, in the 10th minute, draw a save out of Fleet keeper, Lance Cronin. The Cards went closer six minutes later when Cronin failed to hold a Danny Bunce free-kick and Tom Hutchinson headed into the side-netting. But these were brief interludes as the Fleet continued to make most of the running, with Woking resorting mainly to hopeful balls forward to the front pair.

The Cards went through a particularly sticky patch midway through the first half as, first, Tom Hutchinson and then Paul Lorraine got in a tangle with Ross Worner. The scrappiness of the Woking play, and a whistle-happy referee, seemed to affect the Fleet?s rhythm but Ross had to tip McPhee?s effort over the bar in the 28th minute after he had turned Jay Gasson in the box. Woking?s display reached its nadir when Matt Gray?s cross from a free-kick sailed way over the Ebbsfleet goal-line.

Ross was called into action again before half-time as he held a crisp snap-shot from Purcell. In added time a cross somehow found its way right across the Cards? goalmouth without an attacker capitalising.

Ebbsfleet United 0 Woking 0

Some optimistic Woking fans thought that we would see a different Cards side in the second half but they were sadly disappointed. Woking barely got out of their own half for long stretches and had to rely heavily on more wayward Fleet shooting and some obdurate defending to keep their goal intact. The Fleet keeper was tested only once before Gez?s unexpected equaliser.

Eventually, in the 71st minute, the Fleet got the goal they had been threatening all afternoon. Tom Hutchinson conceded a free-kick some twenty yards out and Long bent the ball expertly round the wall and low into the corner of the Woking net.

Gez Sole immediately replaced Goma Lambu, later switching to the left midfield for a time. The Cards began to look a little livelier as Danny Bunce and Damian Batt pushed forward. Jason Norville won a free-kick out wide and Cronin had to tip a Paul Lorraine improvised shot over the bar (although the referee awarded a goal kick!). Nevertheless, it still looked more likely that Ebbsfleet would add to their lead than concede an equaliser, but Purcell and Long both fired wide.

The fourth official?s decision to add five minutes of extra time seemed designed only to prolong the agony, especially as the Fleet spent the first couple of minutes firmly camped in the Woking corners. Suddenly, though, a ball over the top saw Gez goal-side of the Fleet defence and planting the ball under Cronin?s body to make it 1-1. The Fleet defenders claimed for offside, but any decision, one way or the other, must have been very marginal.

There was still time for one more last-ditch block from Tom Hutchinson before the referee called for time.

In spite of the point gained this was a very disappointing performance from the Cards, lacking in ambition and invention. Only the defence (and Gez Sole) emerged with any real credit.

Woking: Ross Worner; Damian Batt, Paul Lorraine, Tom Hutchinson, Jay Gasson, Danny Bunce; Goma Lambu (Giuseppe Sole), Matt Gray, Jerome Maledon; Jason Norville, Marvin Morgan

Unused subs: Nick Gindre, Matt Ruby, Adam Green, Liam Marum

Booked: Tom Hutchinson

Attendance: 1175

My MOTM: a toss-up between any of the central defenders and Danny Bunce. Paul Lorraine (pictured) narrowly gets my vote for a performance as committed as any.

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