8:59pm, Sun 21st Aug 2011
Woking 0 Boreham Wood 0
Blue Square Bet South
20th August 2011
The Cards had keeper Andy Little to thank as, despite their own host of missed chances, they left grateful to escape Kingfield with a disappointing stalemate.
In a game that could have easily gone either way, the Cards defence were, for the first time this season, given a tremendous challenge in the form of powerful striker Inih Effiong. At the other end, Giuseppe Sole and Paris Cowan-Hall will feel they could have easily won the match for the hosts.
Garry Hill was forced into one change from the side victorious over both Sutton and Hampton, with the absence of Adam Doyle, through work commitments, and Alan Inns, victim of a broken toe, providing a minor defensive crisis. Although skipper Mark Ricketts could easily have been a candidate for retreating into a defensive role, the desire not to interrupt an impressive central midfield trio prompted Fridayâ€™s loan signing of Mike Cestor from Leyton Orient, the new man slotting straight into the team.
Cestor was almost immediately into the action as Effiong looked to barrage his way through the Woking back-line and create himself an early chance. Thankfully, the defender was straight into the good books of the home fans as he muscled Effiong away from possession and allowed Little to collect.
This was the first of several early chances for the visitors, who did not at all look a team that had lost and failed to score in their first two fixtures. Effiong was again the clear danger-man, twice finding space before shooting over, while captain Mario Notoâ€™s long range free-kick forced the first save from Little.
The Cards belatedly got themselves into the game mid-way through the half with two excellent chances. Dale Binnsâ€™ dangerous low cross created the Cards opening opportunity, Moses Ademola diverting the ball back across the box before Giuseppe Sole somehow scooped over from six yards. Next, a smart interchange between Ademola and Elvis Hammond forced opposition keeper Putnins into action for the first time as he sprawled at the feet of the Ghanaian striker.
Little was not given long to enjoy seeing the ball at the opposite end of the pitch, touching over an Effiong volley before ex-Cards winger Sam Hurrell sent in another long range tester. The Woking stopper already having done more than in the first two games put together.
Chances continued to materialise at either end as first Ademola, a growing presence in the game, cut in from the right to force a fine diving save from Putnins before Little, not to be outdone, touched Effiongâ€™s effort wide after a quick-pace Wood counter attack. Putnins made it a fine half for both keepers as he kept out another Hammond opportunity after Jack King had played him clean through on goal in stoppage time.
Half-time: Woking 0 Boreham Wood 0
Unfortunately, it was the visitors who initially looked the more dangerous after the re-start, Hurrell taking advantage of Joe McNerneyâ€™s hesitation to force Little into a close range save. The winger was causing problems again soon after, stealing possession from McNerney on the edge of the Cards area, only to shoot comfortably into the arms of Little.
It was clear that it was time for change for Woking and, for the first time this season, Jay Davies got his chance in place of Giuseppe Sole.
Despite the Cards finally beginning to dominate possession and territory, it was the visitors who continued to enjoy the lion's share of the chances, Effiong finally able to find a way round the impressive Cestor, only to be thwarted yet again by the Woking keeper.
However, a combination of Wokingâ€™s improving play and the visitors desire for their first points of the season saw the Wood starting to drop progressively deeper, a neat Cards move culminating in Hammond forcing Putnins into a smart stop.
With the Woking front-line unsurprisingly tiring in their third game in seven days, Wayne Gray and Paris Cowan-Hall were given their chance in place of Hammond and Binns. It did not take long for both to be involved in creating the Cards best chance yet, Gray flicking a header over the defence and allowing the speedy Cowan-Hall to race through on goal. With all the time in the world and the goal seemingly at his mercy, the ball sat up at just the wrong moment, the Cardinals winger crashing his volley goal-wards, but over.
The Cards disappointment at only leaving with a point turned quickly to the relief of keeping a clean sheet and maintaining their unbeaten record â€“ a fine set of passing between substitutes Charlie Hunter and Simeon Akinola looking to have played them through on goal. Little was there in a flash, spreading himself well to block Akinola. As the Wood poured forward for what seemed their inevitable winner, Woking defenders threw their bodies on the line to block, somehow hacking clear and breathing a huge sigh of relief at the full-time whistle that sounded not long after.
All in all, probably a fair result for a frantic game in which both keepers will be credited as the dayâ€™s heroes. Although both sides will be disappointed not to claim the three points, a well organised and hard-working display from each set of defences suggested neither team deserved to lose.
Certainly, Mike Cestor deserves the upmost credit for coming into a new team and performing so well. McNerney was equally solid and it was be interesting to see whether the pair stays together for Tuesdayâ€™s visit to bottom of the table Eastleigh. If on that occasion, the Woking front-line can match the exploits of their defensive counter-parts, then the Cards will hope to get their fine start to the season back on track.
Woking: Andy Little, Adam Newton, Derek Duncan, Mark Ricketts, Joe McNerney, Mike Cestor, Giuseppe Sole (Jay Davies 65), Jack King, Moses Ademola, Elvis Hammond (Wayne Gray 76), Dale Binns (Paris Cowan-Hall 76).
Unused Subs: Aaron Howe, Nathan Koranteng.
Booked: Ricketts 37, King 38.
Boreham Wood: Elvijs Putnins, Osei Sankofa, Daniel Brathwaite, Luke Wilkinson, Charlie Oâ€™Loughlin, Mario Noto (Simeon Akinola 81), Sam Hurrell, Daryl McMahon (Steve Oâ€™Leary 66), Inih Effiong (Charlie Hunter 85), Pele Ruddock, David Bryant.
Unused Subs: Ali Chaaban, Michael Jordan.
Booked: Noto 18, Oâ€™Loughlin 44, McMahon 61, Hunter 90.
MOTM: Andy Little â€“ Forced to come to the Cards rescue on many an occasion, a brave late save summing up his fine performance.