Woking 1 Ebbsfleet United 0
24 January 2009
Applause mingled with huge sighs of relief at Kingfield this afternoon as the Cards secured a narrow ? but vital ? win over Ebbsfleet United, who had beaten Phil Gilchrist?s side twice already this season. Three valuable points ? the first such haul gained at home since 27 September ? came courtesy of a fine goal in the 70th minute coolly slotted home by Joel Ledgister after Wilfried Domoraud had worked hard to create the opening for him. The win moved the Cards up to 19th place in the table. They must now build on this victory in three more home games in the next ten days, starting with Eastbourne United on Tuesday.
Phil Gilchrist gave a debut, on the left wing, to new loan signing from Reading, Oliver Bozanic, and the young Aussie impressed enough to gain the ?Man of the Match? award. He seems likely to prove a real asset in the coming weeks.
Lining up in a 4-1-4-1 formation, Woking got off to an anxious start as Simon Eastwood, desperately trying to prevent conceding a corner from a misdirected Colin Miles header, lost the ball on the byeline. Fortunately ? and this wasn?t the last time Cards fans had to be grateful to Woking?s most consistent player this season ? Paul Lorraine was there to head the resulting cross to safety.
A couple of minutes later Joel Ledgister, possibly from an offside position, found himself a few yards from goal. But, with his back to goal, he laid the ball back towards his colleagues instead of turning and shooting, and the chance was gone.
Bozanic quickly demonstrated his vaunted sweet left foot with a fine free-kick from out wide, which Paul Lorraine met, but the ball was cleared. At the other end, a dangerous Fleet attack was foiled by a sliding tackle from Patrice Konan on Michael Gash.
Bozanic had the home fans purring appreciatively as several step-overs were followed by a wicked curling cross. Almost immediately, Woking were forced into a change of formation as Paolo Vernazza had to go off, being replaced by Goma Lambu. Goma went to the right flank, Ledgister to the left and Bozanic moved inside.
The game continued to be fairly evenly balanced, although Woking looked more threatening up front in this half. That impression was reinforced when, after Domoraud?s strength had won a free-kick just outside the box, Bozanic?s superb effort pinged off the crossbar. In the 32nd minute the Cards threatened again as Domoraud burst through a tackle and reached the byeline just to the right of the goal, but his prodded left-foot pass back failed to find a team mate.
Five minutes later, a lovely move, started by Bozanic as he flicked the ball out wide to Ledgister, produced another decent chance for the Cards. Bozanic miscontrolled Joel?s fine cross but recovered sufficiently to work the ball to Domoraud, who went down in the area to shouts for a penalty ? which were waved away by the referee.
Ebbsfleet, far from out of the game, hit back with an incisive attack but, as was the case all afternoon, Eastwood?s secure handling finally snuffed out the attack.
Bozanic showed his class again a few minutes from half-time as he latched onto a nice nod-down from Domoraud. Chesting the ball to his left to create space, he unleashed a fine volley, which went narrowly wide.
But the last chance of the half fell to the visitors. A cross from the right was half cleared by Lorraine?s header. But as the ball was crossed back in there was a moment when it looked as though we were going to see a repeat of Cambridge?s fourth goal last Saturday. The ball went straight through the defence but, this time fortunately, it went just wide of the far post, with Eastwood stranded.
Half-time: Woking 0 Ebbsfleet United 0
As in the first half, the Cards started on an anxious note. In the first minute of play Eastwood had to block an effort from ex-Card Neil Barrett near the post. The ball was chipped back in and, fortunately for the Cards, Ricky Shakes volleyed over from a few yards out.
The quality of the football seemed to deteriorate compared with the first half, with the ball spending rather a lot of time in the air and with the Woking defence clearing their lines as the Fleet gained the territorial advantage. The main danger to the Cards came from several free-kicks conceded, mostly by Patrice Konan, just outside the area, and from a number of corners. The free-kicks, however, were mainly thwarted by the Woking defensive wall and Paul Lorraine was prominent in clearing the ball on a number of occasions.
The Woking attacks were fewer than in the first half, and attempts to hit the front men quickly seemed to carry little threat. Increasingly, it looked as though one goal would be enough to settle the game.
Bozanic impressed with another good run into the box and was unlucky not to gain a corner for his pains. Ledgister hit a hopeful left-footed shot, but it carried little venom and was wide.
The Fleet came close to getting the vital goal in the 60th minute as Lorraine headed clear following another free-kick. But, rather against the run of play at this stage of the game, it was Woking who made the decisive breakthrough in the 70th minute. Domoraud, out on the right, beat the defender to a bouncing ball. Powering on, he halted just outside the area with two defenders closing him down, but Ledgister made a great run behind them. Domoraud slipped the ball through and Joel finished coolly to put the Cards 1-0 up.
The remaining twenty minutes were more evenly matched as the Fleet pressed forward for an equaliser and Woking had more chances to hit them on the break. Bozanic curled another effort wide and Domoraud, receiving a knock-down from Ledgister, saw his close-range volley deflected for a corner.
There were vociferous appeals from the Fleet players as Bozanic appeared to bring down an opponent following another free-kick and then Lorraine cleared off the line. That was as close as the Fleet came to squaring things, although Cards fans had to endure another free-kick, which hit the wall, and several more balls pumped into the box, all cleared or safely gathered by Eastwood. There was just time for Charlie Moone to get on the pitch before the referee gave the final blast on his whistle to end a tense but ultimately satisfying afternoon.
Woking: Simon Eastwood, Michael Kamara, Patrice Konan (Joe Magunda, 75), Paul Lorraine, Colin Miles, Bradley Quamina, Joel Ledgister, Paolo Vernazza (Goma Lambu, 18), Liam Marum (Charlie Moone, 90), Oliver Bozanic, Wilfried Domoraud
Subs not used: Nick Gindre, Tom Denton
Sponsor?s (London Business Forum) MOTM: Oliver Bozanic