Cards come through tough test with credit
10:29pm, Sat 23rd Jul 2011
Woking 0 Charlton Athletic 0
23rd July 2011
Woking continued their pre-season campaign at home against a strong Charlton side and performed well to hold the Division One side to a goalless draw.
Without the services of both Adam Doyle, still recovering from a hamstring injury, and Alan Inns, on his wedding day, Mark Ricketts was required to join Joe McNerney at centre back against his old club. Triallist Michael Noone continued at left back with Adam Newton on the right. Jack King and Jay Davies were again paired in the centre of midfield with Gez Sole on the right and Dale Binns on the left of midfield. Ola Sogbanmu partnered Elvis Hammond up front in a 4-4-2 formation. Aaron Howe (pictured) retained the keeperâ€™s spot, with Andy Little unavailable, and continued to press his claim for the number one spot with a 'man of the match' performance that ensured the visitors were unable to breach the Cards' defence with a string of excellent saves.
Charlton played a mixture of first team and reserves but were a big, strong side, with the huge Yado Mambo at the back making life very difficult for the Cards' strikers. They pressed the ball throughout and gave Woking little time to settle â€“ as a result chances for the Cards were few and far between.
However, it was Elvis Hammond who had the first shot of the game, his effort fired wide of the visitorsâ€™ goal. Shortly after, a first Woking corner saw Jack King just fail to connect with the cross from Dale Binns. After twelve minutes a Gez Sole trademark free-kick fizzed wide of the right-hand post but after this encouraging start it was the visitors who began to settle and control the majority of possession.
Popo, dangerous throughout, managed to get behind the Woking defence for the first time after a neat through ball but Joe McNerney was on hand to shepherd the ball away to safety. Pritchard then found space on the left with Adam Newton stopping to appeal for offside. He broke clear and squared the ball dangerously across the six-yard box. Again it was Joe McNerney to the rescue as he cleared from close in.
On 18 minutes again the Cards defence stopped, expecting an offside flag, but with nothing given Hayes was able to advance on goal. His close-range volley was parried brilliantly by Aaron Howe. A minute later and again the Cardsâ€™ keeper was on hand to beat away a Davisson shot. A rare foray into the Addicks' half saw Adam Newton well forward but his shot, set up by Elvis Hammond, was collected by Charlton keeper, Warren.
After a trip by Mark Ricketts, Charlton were awarded a dangerous free-kick on the edge of the box. The defensive wall did its job as the excellent Dale Stephens' shot was diverted away. Doherty possibly should have done better with his downward header from the resulting corner but the Cards' defence scrambled the ball away.
Woking were working extremely hard but still finding it difficult to retain the ball with the visitors a continual threat down both flanks. However, led by the excellent Aaron Howe and good work from Joe McNerney and Mark Ricketts, the Cards were able to see out the first half without conceding.
Half-time: Woking 0 Charlton Athletic 0
The second period started as the first had finished with Charlton pressing for an opening goal but a Pritchard shot early on was dealt with easily before Aaron Howe again made an excellent stop with Stephens through on goal.
After 52 minutes Wayne Gray was brought on by Garry Hill for Ola Sogbanmu to make his first appearance for Woking. His pace and power suggested that he will be a further excellent option up front for the Cardsâ€™ manager. Within two minutes of coming on, the debutant had skilfully retained he ball and slipped in Jack King but the midfielder was offside.
The Cards' next half-chance came from a strong run by Dale Binns through midfield and, for once, able to make use of his speed. His final ball slipped through to Elvis Hammond was just too strong and collected by Warren. A minute later and Woking had another opportunity as a Gez Sole free-kick from the edge of the box was cleared off the top of Jack Kingâ€™s head by a Charlton defenderâ€™s boot.
By now Garry Hill was taking the opportunity to ring the changes but it was still the visitors who looked the most likely to break the deadlock. In quick succession, Hayes, Stephens and substitute Harriott all had chances but failed to hit the target. Meanwhile Wayne Grayâ€™s dangerous cross was headed away before Jay Davies flicked the ball through to Elvis Hammond in a dangerous position but the Cardsâ€™ striker was offside.
On 74 minutes Hayes finally had the ball in the net but the Charlton forward was well offside. Immediately he was substituted, and to the obvious delight of the travelling Addicksâ€™ fans, Jason Euell, last season at Premiership Blackpool, finally made his return appearance.
With ten minutes to go Woking had two chances that could have seen them nick an unlikely win. First, Nathan Koranteng, on for Gez Sole, was just beaten to the ball as he prepared to bury a Jack King flick from close range. Then from a Josh Griffithsâ€™ corner Joe McNerney was just wide with a clear header. In the final minute Charlton had a last corner but, fortunately for the Cards, Horoneâ€™s header was over the bar.
No doubt Garry Hill will have been far more pleased than his counterpart Chris Powell with this hard-earned draw. It was far from a classic but nonetheless the Cards emerged with great credit from a tough friendly against a strong, full-time Division One squad. As with the performance against Reading, it is hard to find fault with a squad that continues to develop with much promise.
Wokingâ€™s next friendly will be away at Kingsmeadow against Kingstonian on Saturday 30th July and an opportunity for the Cards to show what they can do against opposition from a lower division.
Woking: Aaron Howe, Adam Newton, Michael Noone* (Anson Cousins 82), Jack King, Joe McNerney, Mark Ricketts, Giuseppe Sole (Nathan Koranteng 60), Jay Davies (Jake Parsons* 74), Ola Sogbanmu (Wayne Gray 52), Elvis Hammond (Ollie Palmer 69), Dale Binns (Josh Griffiths 74)
Unused subs: Demetrius Lawrence*, Matt Pegler, George Frith
Charlton Athletic: John Sullivan, Simon Francis, Nick Anderson, Gary Doherty, Yado Mambo, Brad Pritchard, Scott Wagstaff, Dale Stephens (Fred Warren 74), Paul Hayes (Jason Euell 74), Toson Popo (Alexis Horone), Ben Davisson (Callum Harriott 60)
Unused subs: Nick Pope, Chris Solly
MOTM: Aaron Howe â€“ an excellent performance, including several fine close-range saves that will do his claim for the Number One shirt no harm at all.