Woking News & Mail
7:45pm - TuesdayTue 14th FebruaryFeb 2017
The Laithwaite Community Stadium | Att: 1000

Woking
Woking
2 - 1

Solihull
Solihull Moors

Vital home game on Tuesday

Brian Caffarey
3:07pm, Sun 12th Feb 2017
Woking v Solihull Moors
Vanarama National League
7.45pm on Tuesday 14 February 2017

Garry Hill’s battling Cards side have played well in recent games but had no points to show from their encounters with high-flying Tranmere Rovers and Lincoln City. They now have two crucial home games, starting with Solihull Moors on Tuesday evening. But the Moors are likely to prove difficult opponents, having enjoyed some excellent results in recent weeks. Make a special effort to come down to the Laithwaite Community Stadium, if you can, to cheer on the Cards to a much-needed victory! Entry is FREE for women and children under 14.

WOKING

The Cards gained plenty of plaudits, but no points, in their battling performance at league leaders Lincoln City on Saturday in their 3-2 defeat. Anything gained at Sincil Bank would have been a bonus but the real test comes in Woking’s next two home games, against Solihull Moors on Tuesday evening and, in a veritable ‘six pointer’, against Southport on Saturday. The target has to be two home wins, but anything less than four points from the two games would be a bitter blow to the Cards’ hopes of escaping the drop.

The position at the bottom of the table has become even tighter after Saturday’s games. Southport and North Ferriby United both lost, but York City and Maidstone United shared the points in their encounter against each other. Woking remain in 19th position but only goal difference (and a game in hand) now separates them from Maidstone and Southport immediately below them, while Guiseley, one point behind, and York and North Ferriby, both three points behind, are too close for comfort. Above Woking, the gap widened to four points with a win for Braintree and a draw for Torquay.

Garry Hill brought in Chris Arthur for Charlie Carter on Saturday, while Max Kretzschmar made quite an impact from the bench, quickly winning a penalty, converted by Fabio Saraiva. The impressive Gozie Ugwu had equalised Lincoln’s opener and had another effort disallowed in the second half.

It sounds as if Brian Saah may not be fit for ten days or so, but Nathan Ralph may be close to a return.

SOLIHULL MOORS

The Moors are the result of a merger in 2007 between Solihull Borough and Moor Green. The club plays at Damson Parkway, which is about a mile north of Solihull town centre.

The Moors came up to the National League as champions of the Conference North last season. Their then manager Marcus Bignot retained a substantial number of his squad from that campaign. The best known was perhaps Andy Brown, an experienced striker who netted 100 goals for AFC Telford and Nuneaton Town before his move to the Moors last summer. Additions included Harry White, a young striker from Barnsley who had loan spells at Kidderminster Harriers and Boreham Wood last season; Jamey Osborne, a highly-rated midfielder from Redditch United; Nathan Vaughan, an experienced keeper from Worcester City; Omari Sterling-James, a goalscoring wide midfielder with recent experience at Cheltenham Town; and Shepherd Murombedzi, a midfielder who had appeared most recently for Torquay United and Hayes and Yeading.

Marcus Bignot moved on to join the management team at Grimsby Town and was replaced in November by Liam McDonald, a young manager who had made a strong impression in his previous roles at Redditch United and Hednesford Town. McDonald was quick to use those connections to bring in four players who were with him at Hednesford: defender Calum Flanagan and midfielders Simeon Maye, Ashley Sammons and George Carline. Other arrivals were midfielder Nortei Norty, whose loan from Wrexham has since been converted into a permanent signing; experienced striker Luke Rodgers; Kristian Green, a defender from Stourbridge; 18-year-old keeper Nathan Baxter from Chelsea, who was a member of the Blues’ FA Youth Cup-winning side last season; central defender Joel Kettle from Rushall Olympic; and Pearson Mwanyongo, a prolific scorer with Gresley United. Two recent loan signings are midfielder Regan Charles-Cook from Charlton Athletic and ex-Chelsea Academy youngster, Oladapo Afolayan, who has been playing for Loughborough Colleges.

There have been a number of departures, including the loss of coveted striker Akwasi Asante and midfielder Jamey Osborne to Bignot at Grimsby Town.

McDonald, who likes to play attacking football, seems to have made a very positive start with the Moors. Notable results have included a holiday double over in-form Chester and a 4-4 draw away at Dagenham and Redbridge in which the Moors twice squandered a two-goal lead. The Moors now sit in 15th position with 40 points from 31 games, four places and ten points ahead of the Cards. On Saturday they beat Sutton United 3-0 at home, with two goals from debutant Regan Charles-Cook and one from fellow debutant Oladapo Afolayan. Away from home the Moors have won four league games, drawn five and lost six, with 16 goals scored and 21 conceded. They have conceded only one goal in their last four games.

ADMISSION PRICES

Woking Football Club is offering FREE entry to women and under 14s for this game.

All females over 18 will also be admitted free into a draw for a bottle of champagne with their entrance ticket number, so keep hold of the ticket.

Female season ticket holders can collect a red rose on production of their season ticket after the game from the players’ entrance.

Other entry prices are:

Adults £18
Over 65/Students with valid student card £13
U16s - U14s £5

Don’t forget the special Valentine’s Day special offer in the Geoff Chapple Lounge.

LAST TIME OUT

Solihull Moors 2 Woking 2
9 August 2016

If the Cards do end up in the bottom four at the end of the season, this is one of the games – nearly all against sides in the bottom half of the table – which Garry Hill will particularly rue as a missed opportunity. Their first away fixture of the campaign saw the Cards two goals ahead with only twenty minutes remaining but they ended up merely sharing the points and, in the process, perhaps establishing a pattern of poor results away from home.

After a decisive opening day defeat at home to Lincoln City, the Cards were anxious to get off the mark in this game. A slow start didn’t augur well but the Cards survived and gradually grew into the game, taking the lead when Nathan Ralph headed home a Dennon Lewis cross.

The Cards exended their lead shortly after half-time when keeper Lewis seemed to misjudge Zak Ansah’s shot-cum-cross. The Moors piled on the pressure thereafter, with Woking unable to protect their lead as the home side grabbed two late goals.

Woking: Michael Poke, Jake Caprice, Brian Saah, Ismail Yakubu (Charlie Carter 79), Ben Gordon, Dennon Lewis (Fabio Saraiva 70), Keiran Murtagh, Joey Jones, Nathan Ralph, Zak Ansah (Charlie Penny 69), Gozie Ugwu

Unused substitutes: Brandon Hall, Chike Kandi

Scorer: Nathan Ralph 31, Zak Ansah 49
Solihull Moors: Danny Lewis, Jordan Fagbola, Liam Daly, Jordan Gough, Connor Franklin, Shepherd Murombedzi, Jamey Osborne, Ryan Beswick (Darryl Knights 60), Omari Sterling-James, Andy Brown (Harry White 60), Stefan Moore (Akwasi Asante 60)

Unused substitutes: Nathan Vaughan, Bobby Moseley

Scorers: Harry White 73, Jordan Fagbola 80

Attendance: 699

COMING UP

The Cards next game is a crucial ‘six pointer’ at home to Southport on Saturday 18 February.


Come on, you Cards!


Tense battle to secure vital win

John Pearce
12:00am, Tue 14th Feb 2017
Woking 2 Solihull Moors 1
Vanarama National League
14th February 2017

An entertaining game, with plenty of goalmouth action and a spot of ‘handbags’ after the final whistle, eventually saw Woking securing the vital 3 points after a nail-biting end to the game – an invaluable win, given the jostling for positions near the bottom of the table.

On a dry evening – less cold than of late – the untrained eye may have mistaken the smattering of sand for a light snowfall, rather than a reflection on the recent state of the pitch. Given that it was Valentine’s Night, the attendance – exactly 1,000 - was slightly greater than the worst fears had suggested.

Woking took the lead very early on with a headed goal from Terell Thomas – his first for the club. They failed to build on that advantage and were pegged back by a Moors equaliser just before the hour. As the game swung either way, the Cards retook the lead with a fine Saraiva goal in the 73rd minute, and hung on despite away team pressure that appeared to have secured them a point in a dramatic finish.

It would be over-simplistic to claim this as an impressive win as, for much of the game, the Cards appeared lethargic, slow to respond to threatening Solihull moves and lacking in concentration, but this was punctuated by two 5-minute periods – one in each half – where they assumed total control. For their part, the Moors played some impressive passing football, with swift counter-attacks, and generally showed why they have exceeded the expectations of many following their promotion; Regan Charles-Cook was probably their most dangerous player on the night.

There was one change in the Cards starting line-up, with Nathan Ralph returning from injury to replace Chris Arthur on the left; it could be that the latter’s absence from the 16 was less of a mystery to those who watched the away performance at Lincoln than others present. Connor Hall came in for Chike Kandi on the bench.

Solihull kicked off towards the LGS. As early as the 2nd minute, Ralph sent a long ball forward on the left towards Bonne, which was put behind by a Moors defender. Joey Jones knocked the ball across goal from Fabio Saraiva’s corner and Terell Thomas was able to head in from very close range to give Woking the lead.

This encouraging start was not maintained by Woking, and Solihull fought back, with a difficult ball into the box being punched away by Poke in the 5th minute, and a shot from a corner on the right being blocked by a Cards defender. A Saraiva free-kick into the box was glanced wide off Gozie Ugwu’s head but, for a while, Woking did not play with the conviction of a team in the lead, with passes often going astray.

On 22 minutes, Keiran Murtagh was fouled just outside the Moors’ area. Saraiva aimed his kick directly at the goal, but it just missed the top left-hand corner. Shortly after that, Ralph earnt himself a yellow card by flooring Green.

Sterling-James floated in a Solihull free kick to the right of the Woking goal, which Poke was only able to push out. The ball fell to Daly’s feet but he fired it way over the Woking bar from about 30 yards.

The first 5-minute spell of Woking domination began in the 37th minute. Ralph hit a ball into the Solihull area where it was knocked out for a corner on the left. A Boone shot was deflected out for another corner, from which Yakubu raced in and almost headed the ball into the net. Bonne headed on a ball to Ugwu on the left, which he pushed along the ground across the Solihull goal, but there was no Woking player on hand to shoot.

After a left-footed shot from Sterling-James passed Poke’s left post, the latter saved a ball headed down from a Solihull cross. The first half ended quietly after 1 minute was added on.

Half Time: Woking 1 Solihull Moors 0

The Cards made a bright start to the second half and an early shot was saved. Their opponents fought back and Carline was tripped about 25 yards out from the Woking goal in the 54th; a shot from the resulting free kick was blocked and deflected away for a corner. More Solihull pressure ensued, with another scramble in the Woking box when Poke dropped, leading eventually to a goal kick from a wide shot. Poke made another save to his right when the ball was headed down from a free kick.

The Moors were displaying a lot of fluency now, and their equaliser in the 59th minute came as no great surprise. Poke failed to hold a blistering shot from Sterling-James and the ball dropped to Charles-Cook’s feet and he tapped into the net from close range.

Garry Hill made a couple of inspired substitutions after 63 minutes, with Charlie Carter coming on for Ralph and Connor Hall for the hard-working but ineffective Bonne. Four minutes later, Solihull bought on White for Murombedzi, and Byrne for Nortey.

In the 68th minute – probably galvanised by the Solihull equaliser and refreshed by the substitutions – Woking again took complete control of the game. Connor Hall was proving a particular threat, with energetic and incisive runs towards the Moors defence. Following a Caprice/Charles-Cook chase for the ball, a dangerous Saraiva corner on the right was flapped out by Baxter, who then touched a Fabio free kick past his left post. After two more corners, Ugwu turned in the box and fired the ball goalwards, only for it to be tipped over the bar. After a Saraiva header went wide, in the 73rd, Ugwu put in a perfect pass along the ground from the right of the box for Fabio to blast it into the net with characteristic aplomb. 2-1.

The game was end-to-end after that. A couple of Hall runs were thwarted by offside decisions on him and Ugwu. Solihull made a 3rd substitution with Afolayan coming for Maye. Michael Poke pulled off a string of brilliant saves, just tipping the ball past his left post with his foot from a White shot in the 87th and knocking another attempt over the bar for a Moors corner. In the 88th minute, Murtagh ran almost the entire length of the pitch with the ball to the far corner, but no one else appeared to help him.

And on to the dramatic denouement of the game. 90 seconds into the 3 minutes added on, Thomas fouled a Solihull player just outside of the box. Charles-Cook lofted in a dangerous free-kick, and a mad scramble involving many players near the goal line ensued. The outcome was unclear, and there were nervous moments as the referee seemed to point back to the centre spot, but the crowd dispersed to reveal Poke lying on the ground with the ball in his hands. And relax…

After the final whistle, most of those on the pitch got involved in an unseemly ‘brawl’ around Poke. Naughty, naughty. There may have been some Solihull dissatisfaction with the referee not allowing a second equaliser.

So, bags of action and the home supporters will have gone away happy with the outcome. With the pendulum swinging both ways throughout the game, it could be described as a ‘game of many halves’, but the early goal, two periods of complete dominance and some brilliant work between the posts by Michael Poke saw Woking through to a vital win, and hopefully sets them up for more of the same against Southport on Saturday.

Woking: Michael Poke, Jake Caprice, Nathan Ralph (Charlie Carter 63), Ismail Yakubu, Joey Jones, Terell Thomas, Keiran Murtagh ©, Kane Ferdinand, Fabio Saraiva, Gozie Ugwu, Macauley Bonne (Connor Hall 63)

Unused subs: Brandon Hall, Dennon Lewis, Max Kretzschmar

Goals: Thomas 2, Saraiva 73

Yellow Cards: Ralph, Thomas

Solihull Moors: Nathan Baxter, Shepherd Murombedzi (Harry White 67), Liam Daly ©, Joel Kettle, Calum Flanagan, Kristian Green, Simeon Maye (Oladapo Afolayan 84), Omari Sterling-James, George Carline, Nortei Nortey (Jack Byrne 67), Regan Charles-Cook.
Unused subs: Ashley Sammons, Pearson Mwanyongo.

Goals: Charles-Cook 59

Yellow Card: Ginnelly

Sponsors’ (Seafare St. Johns) MOTM: Keiran Murtagh. His customary authoritative performance as Woking’s midfield general, always giving the impression that he had more time on his hands than others on the pitch.

Referee: Scott Oldham

Attendance: 1,000
WOKING LINEUP
1Michael Poke
2Jake Caprice
11Nathan Ralph ('63)
3Terell Thomas
4Joey Jones
6Ismail Yakubu
8Keiran Murtagh
14Fabio Saraiva
22Kane Ferdinand
9Gozie Ugwu
23Macauley Bonne ('63)
BENCH
18Brandon Hall
12Charlie Carter ('63)
15Max Kretzschmar
16Dennon Lewis
25Connor Hall ('63)
Solihull Moors LINEUP

Woking 2 - 1 Solihull Moors (Garry Hill Interview)

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