Another promising performance
8:30pm, Sat 1st Aug 2009
Woking 0 Stevenage Borough 0
1 August 2009
The only thing missing from this performance from Graham Bakerâ€™s side was a goal or two to deliver the win the display merited. There was some promising play up front â€“ with Gez Sole (pictured), in particular, in sparkling form â€“ and some resolute tackling at the back, but the Cards could not get the ball past former Kingfield favourite, Ashley Bayes.
Stevenageâ€™s line-up was well short of their first choice side but with players like Yemi Odubade, Chris Beardsley, Mark Albrighton and Jon Ashton in their starting eleven there was some solid BSP quality to test the Cards. Peter Vincenti, confusingly, lined up at right back for Graham Westleyâ€™s side and didnâ€™t look very comfortable there, having difficulty dealing legitimately with Delano Sam-Yorke, who had his best game so far in the pre-season campaign. The main absentee for Woking was Aswad Thomas. Sam Sloma filled in at left back but found Odubadeâ€™s pace a bit too hot to handle at times. Moses Ademola, the recent loan signing from Brentford, made a promising debut up front, especially in the first half before some tiredness set in. He had Luke Medley and Sam-Yorke on either side of him, with Sole in a fairly free role just behind him.
Woking started very brightly and might have taken the lead on a couple of occasions in the first five minutes. Ademola and Medley combined sweetly as the latterâ€™s crisp shot was deflected by Bayes onto a post. Then Sole, controlling a long ball perfectly and sweeping inside in one move, drove a left-footed effort just past the same post.
Stevenageâ€™s main threat came from the pace of Odubade and crosses swung in from the flanks. Ross Worner, who had a confidence-building afternoon, was quickly out to boot clear as Odubade raced through, but the attacking momentum largely rested with Woking. Ademola worked hard to block an attempted clearance. Sole moved the ball out quickly to Medley, who unleashed a fierce drive beyond Bayesâ€™s far post.
In the 23rd minute Ademola ought to have opened his Cards account. Sam-Yorke â€˜skinnedâ€™ Vincenti and pulled the ball back nicely to his strike partner. Ademola did well to brush off a tackle but then shot hurriedly over the bar. A minute later Billy Hussey (on as a substitute for Harry Arter) fought well to create an opening for Sloma, who hit a rising shot wide of the target.
Sole continued to impress with some skilful touches before Ademola spurned another presentable chance, glancing a header, from a fine Sloma cross, wide of the goal. Sole then produced a lovely cameo, picking up the ball and gliding past several defenders before powering in a fine strike, marginally too high.
In the meantime Tony Sinclair, looking very accomplished at the back, had combined with Tom Hutchinson to block what looked like a certain goal for the Boro, and Worner impressed in hanging on cleanly, a few minutes later, to a superbly- struck drive from Odubade.
Woking quickly responded when Medley, who has clearly got the ability to take players on, put in a tempting cross across the face of the goal, which just eluded Sole as he slid in, before Medley again fired wide from the right flank.
The pattern continued up till half-time with Medley again beating his man on the flank and seeing Bayes hold on to his cross at the second attempt, while Sinclair threw himself in front of another goalbound effort and Worner plucked the ball out of the air cleanly from a testing corner.
Half-time: Woking 0 Stevenage Borough 0
Woking went close once more just after the break. Hutchinson latched onto a loose ball, Bayes half-saved and Sole, following up, saw his delicate chip out from under Bayesâ€™s body, drop onto the top of the crossbar. Sole was in the thick of the action again as he made a great run, spoiled by Ademola wandering into an offside position, and then blasting another effort just wide as Sloma played a short free-kick to him on the edge of the box. But that was Soleâ€™s last contribution as an injury saw him replaced by Anson Cousins.
The game began to become a bit more disjointed as both sides brought on substitutes but it was good to see once more a very promising display by Cousins, playing in the more advanced role heâ€™s usually fulfilled in the Academy. He was very unlucky not to score with an overhead kick after Sam-Yorke and Hutchinson had nodded on from a corner and then made several enterprising runs, slipping the ball intelligently to his team mates, with both Hussey and Ademola nearly benefiting. Ademola, a few minutes earlier, had finally managed to beat Bayes, only to find that heâ€™d been ruled offside.
Charlie Griffin shot over the bar before Cousins again caught the eye, releasing Ademola before seeing a very deliberate header narrowly miss the far post.
A flurry of late substitutions allowed time only for one more Woking break, as Cousins found Medley but he too fell foul of the linesmanâ€™s flag.
We all know that pre-season games are no guide to how well teams will fare when the campaign starts but one canâ€™t help feeling at least cautiously optimistic, on the basis of recent displays, that weâ€™re going to enjoy our football more at Kingfield this season. Graham has got his side playing some attractive, purposeful football. We just need to put the ball in the net!
Woking: Ross Worner (Matt Pegler, 65), Ricky Anane (Joe McNerney, 65), Tony Sinclair (Daniel Sintim, 88), Tom Hutchinson, Sam Sloma, Mark Ricketts (Matt Ferdinando, 88), Harry Arter (Billy Hussey, 19), Giuseppe Sole (Anson Cousins, 65), Luke Medley, Moses Ademola, Delano Sam-Yorke (Matt Powell, 85)
Booked: Tony Sinclair