Returning Stars Inspire Woking Victory
9:22am, Tue 4th Feb 2014
Woking 3 Hereford United 0
The Skrill Premier
3rd February 2014
Returning strike duo Jack Marriott and Scott Rendell inspired Woking to an impressive 3-0 victory over Hereford United, as the Cards moved nine points clear of the relegation zone.
Ipswich loanee Marriott opened the scoring with his tenth goal of the season, while former Luton forward Rendell set up the third goal of the evening for man-of-the-match Josh Payne.
Keiran Murtagh netted the home sideâ€™s other goal with a well-placed shot from the edge of the area as Garry Hillâ€™s side grabbed their first league win in four games.
Visitors Hereford rarely threatened, with Januaryâ€™s Skrill Premier â€˜Manager of the Monthâ€™ Martin Foyle seeing his team suffer defeat for the first time since Boxing Day.
The hosts made three changes from their last outing, a 2-2 draw against Lincoln City at the end of last month, with Rendell, Marriott and goalkeeper Sam Beasant replacing Giuseppe Sole, the injured Mike Cestor and Mason Springthorpe. Sole dropped onto the bench alongside Aaron Howe, Anthony McNamee, Reece Beckles and new loan signing Joey Jones.
As a result, the Cards lined up in a 4-4-2 formation, with a midfield of Payne, Murtagh, John Goddard and Kevin Betsy playing just behind Marriott and Rendell.
After a slow start from both teams, the home side began to find their feet, with John Nutter firing wide and Joe McNerney heading a Payne corner over the Hereford crossbar. The link-up play from the Cards was particularly impressive, emphasised by a move started by Murtagh, whose pass was headed down by Rendell into the path of Goddard, where an excellent tackle from Dominic Collins was all that prevented the midfielder getting a shot in on goal.
The Woking breakthrough seemed inevitable, and eventually came thanks to further strong build-up play in midfield. Payne got hold of possession and found John Nutter in space on the left-hand side. The fullbackâ€™s cross was inch-perfect, as was the leap of Marriott, whose glancing header flew past the despairing dive of Bulls keeper Daniel Lloyd-Weston and into the bottom right-hand corner of the net.
Just two minutes later, and Wokingâ€™s lead was doubled. Betsy managed to twist and turn on the edge of the Hereford area and find Goddard. The ball was then moved on to Payne, who looked to have spurned any opportunity to shoot, with multiple defenders throwing their bodies in the way. But rather than waste the chance, Payne patiently rolled the ball into Murtagh, who found just enough space to get a shot away and find the bottom left-hand corner.
Things could have got even better for the home side. Twice Payne came close to setting Marriott clean through on goal, while Nutterâ€™s free-kick, deflected off the head of a Hereford defender, flew just wide with the goalkeeper scrambling.
Further joy down the left-hand side saw Nutter send in another dangerous cross, which was headed back across goal by Joe McNerney for Rendell, whose effort was smartly stopped by the feet of Lloyd-Weston.
The Hereford 'keeper had to once again be at his best when Betsy cut in from the right and forced a save, with Rendell following up and also having his shot blocked by the Bulls stopper. Payne and Marriott also came close for the hosts, while the visitors' best chance was when Michael Rankine saw his effort blocked by the impressive Nutter.
Half-time: Woking 2 Hereford United 0
After an extremely poor first-half showing, Hereford came out a much improved team after the break, with Kingsley James and Frankie Artus both passing up early opportunities to narrow the deficit. At the other end, Marriott might have put the game to bed had it not been for another fine diving save from Lloyd-Weston.
The visitors quickly looked to their substitutes bench for inspiration, bringing on Dan Walker, Sam Smith and Daniel Leadbitter, in place of Artus, Chris Sharp and Collins. Despite the changes, the Bulls struggled to create chances with regularity. What good play they did produce came through Rankine, who did manage to force a save from Beasant with 20 minutes remaining.
Woking responded to Herefordâ€™s increased pressure and possession by bringing on Jones for his debut, in place of stand-in captain Adam Newton, who passed the armband onto McNerney. Sole and Beckles also came on, replacing Marriott and Payne.
But before Payne departed, he still had time to cap his fantastic performance with a stunning goal: exchanging passes with Rendell before thrashing the ball into the top right-hand corner of the net.
It was an excellent, and totally professional all-round performance from the Cards, as they earned their second successive 3-0 victory over Hereford. The result moves Woking above Lincoln, into sixteenth place in the league table, 14 points short of the initial 50-point target.
The returning Marriott and Rendell, along with man-of-the-match Payne, will deservedly get the plaudits, but in truth they were far from the only stand-out performers. Murtagh had arguably his best game since signing on loan from Mansfield, while Brett Johnson also impressed, keeping Rankine extremely quiet throughout the night. Nutter was a constant threat down the Woking left, while Beasant was a commanding presence on his return to the team.
Cards fans will be hoping for more of the same as they begin a run of three successive away matches, starting next Tuesday at Salisbury.
Woking: Sam Beasant, Adam Newton (Joey Jones 75), John Nutter, Joe McNerney, Brett Johnson, Kevin Betsy, Keiran Murtagh, Josh Payne (Reece Beckles 90), John Goddard, Jack Marriott (Giuseppe Sole 85), Scott Rendell.
Unused Subs: Aaron Howe, Anthony McNamee.
Goals: Marriott 24, Murtagh 26, Payne 88.
Booked: Johnson 80
Hereford United: Daniel Lloyd-Weston, Dominic Collins (Daniel Leadbitter 62), Luke Graham, Rod McDonald, Chris Bush, Jonathan Brown, Frankie Artus (Dan Walker 55), Kingsley James, Jamie Edge, Michael Rankine, Chris Sharp (Sam Smith 62).
Unused Subs: Rhys Evans, Rob Purdie.
Booked: Graham 90
Sponsor's MOTM: Josh Payne â€“ Outstanding performance in the middle of the park. He had a hand in setting up both the first-half goals before smashing in the third himself.