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Brian Caffarey - 27th January 2008
Woking 1 Crawley Town 1
26 January 2008

After a hesitant start the Cards turned in a lively and committed performance against a skilful Crawley side. The returning Kevin James opened the scoring for the Red Devils in the 12th minute but Marvin Morgan equalised from close range deep into injury time at the end of the first half. Having the better of the second period, with a Jason Norville header disallowed, the Cards might well have claimed all three points. The display confirmed recent signs that this Woking side is improving as Frank Gray?s young charges gain confidence and experience at this level.

The only change from the line-up at Weymouth a week before was that Giuseppe Sole started on the left of midfield in place of Adam Green. Matt Gray kept the right-back slot but was given a torrid time by the pacy, tricky Mustapha Carayol. The Red Devils? line-up included three former Cards in Ashley Bayes, Kevin James and Paul Watson.

The ball spent rather a lot of time in the air in the opening exchanges but both teams then began to settle down with, at this stage in the game, Crawley looking particularly threatening when they got the ball on the ground and were able to use Mustapha Carayol?s pace down the Woking right flank or take advantage of Jamie Cook?s fine close control. An early Woking attack saw Jason Norville loop an effort over the bar, followed by a fierce goal-bound strike from Gez Sole, which was blocked by a defender. At the other end, Thomas Pinault tried a long-range shot, which went comfortably over the bar. An intelligent quick free-kick from Matt Pattison saw Gez Sole in a great position but he was ruled offside.

Matt then undid his good work, being robbed in central midfield when he had an easy pass to his right and when the defensive cover was sparse. The ball was played swiftly down Woking?s left and, when the cross came in, there were two Crawley players waiting at the far post. Kevin James nodded home to put the Red Devils 1-0 up with only 12 minutes gone.

The Cards continued to look a little jittery, with Tom Hutchinson and Jay Gasson getting themselves in an uncharacteristic tangle as both went for the same header, and Carayol made a dangerous run into the Woking area. To have conceded a second goal at this stage of the game would have left the Cards with a mountain to climb, especially given their goalscoring record. But the side re-grouped, with Tom Hutchinson again outstanding at the back, whilst Marvin Morgan, Jason Norville and Gez Sole continued to create half-chances up front. Ashley Bayes could only fend off a pile-driver from Gez Sole and Gez?s fine cross only just eluded Jason Norville. For Crawley, Pinault tried another long-range effort, which fortunately went straight at Nick Gindre, and, more worryingly, Glenn Watson had a free header, which he put wide.

Both sides then nearly profited from scrambles in the box. Marvin Morgan was just enable to apply the finishing touch, whilst at the other end Nick Gindre was lucky to see a corner deflected up into his hands. Tom Hutchinson was also causing Crawley problems when he came forward for set pieces and his flicked header on the half-hour mark almost opened the door for Gez Sole. Tom?s downward header from a corner went even closer. Marvin Morgan looked as though he might score a breakaway goal as he charged from the Woking half after a corner had been cleared but he was just foiled. The Cards? defence was relieved to see the linesman?s flag raised for offside as Kevin James sent Carayol clear and Nick Gindre had to save another effort from Pinault.

Deep into the three minutes of added time ? too deep for the liking of the Red Devils? manager, Steve Evans! ? Marvin Morgan grabbed the equaliser. After Ashley Bayes had made a fine diving save to palm away a Hutchinson header, Jason Norville did well to retain possession in the box and find Goma Lambu, who threw in a deep cross. Gez Sole nodded down to Morgan a couple of yards out. He swivelled athletically and rammed the ball up into the roof of the net.

The half ended immediately, with the unsavoury sight of Steve Evans being escorted from the pitch by stewards and police and being ordered to the stand.

Half-time: Woking 1 Crawley Town 1

The second half began with Crawley continuing to play the prettier football for a short spell but the Cards soon began to gain the upper hand, with Bradley Quamina and Matt Pattison winning more tackles in midfield, Marvin Morgan increasingly stretching the Crawley rearguard and Goma Lambu tracking back to largely nullify the threat from Carayol. But Carayol had some early success as Matt Gray resorted to blocking him, conceding a free-kick, from which Kieran Murphy headed well over. After escaping unpunished from some loose defending, the Cards broke out with a storming run from Marvin Morgan down the left touchline. Tom Hutchinson headed the resulting corner just wide of the far post. Marvin?s pace discomforted the Crawley defence once more as he chased down a defender. He was first to the ball but, with Ashley Bayes off his line, he was unable to apply a firm enough touch to his finish. Danny Bunce then wasted a free-kick, kicking it straight out of play. Gez Sole?s free-kick was on target but straight to the keeper.

A (by now) increasingly rare Crawley attack caused concern as Nick Gindre hesitated but Goma Lambu cleared the danger. The action was soon at the other end as Woking?s front pair combined sweetly to tee Marvin Morgan up for a shot. The Cards? ascendancy looked to have been rewarded as Jason Norville headed home from a Matt Gray cross but the assistant referee?s flag cut short the celebrations. More pressure followed as Marvin Morgan was obstructed and a Danny Bunce free-kick was blasted into the defensive wall. Another attacking flurry from Crawley saw Goma Lambu dispossess Carayol after he had bamboozled Matt Gray and Bradley Quamina booked after hauling down Magno Vieira as the latter broke swiftly.

Woking sought the winner as Marvin Morgan ran at the Crawley defence and substitute Liam Marum?s fresh legs also tested them for pace but, although Tom Hutchinson got on the end of a couple of crosses, they could not fashion another clear chance before the referee blew for time.

This was another encouraging performance from the Cards after an uncertain start. The Morgan/Norville partnership up front continues to look promising ? the rejuvenated Marvin had an outstanding second half in particular ? and the central defensive pairing of the immaculate Tom Hutchinson and Jay Gasson looks as good as any in this league. Gez Sole worked hard and gave us more of an attacking edge, although Goma Lambu?s impact was blunted by his defensive duties: we could still do with a specialist right back! A mystery was how a card-happy referee managed to book seven players, including five from Woking, in a generally even-tempered match. The only blots on an entertaining afternoon were five bookings for the Cards, some of them distinctly avoidable, and the antics of Steve Evans during and after the game.

Woking: Nick Gindre, Matt Gray, Tom Hutchinson, Jay Gasson, Danny Bunce; Goma Lambu, Matt Pattison, Bradley Quamina, Guiseppe Sole; Marvin Morgan, Jason Norville (Liam Marum, 79)

Unused subs: Ross Worner, Paul Lorraine, Jerome Maledon, Lewis Christon

Booked: Tom Hutchinson, Marvin Morgan, Giuseppe Sole, Bradley Quamina, Matt Gray

Attendance: 1697

Sponsor?s (The Beer O?Clock Crew) MOTM: Marvin Morgan

Don?t forget to head down to Kingfield on Thursday evening for the televised Altrincham v Woking game. The Cardinals? Bar opens at 7pm, with kick-off at 7.45pm. Draught Stella and draught Guiness at ?2 a pint!