Cards crash out of Cup

Brian Caffarey
9:42pm, Sat 15th Oct 2011
Maidenhead United 4 Woking 1
FA Cup 3rd Qualifying Round
15 October 2011

Woking’s Cup dreams were well and truly shattered this afternoon as they slumped to a heavy defeat at the hands of a vibrant and determined Magpies side, who surged to a 4-1 lead by half-time. The Cards looked tentative from the outset and large holes soon appeared in a hesitant defence. To cap it all, the Magpies’ keeper, Jordan Clement, had a ‘blinder’, repelling every attempt by Garry Hill’s side to claw themselves back into the match.

With Wayne Gray – whose physical presence and ability in the air were sorely missed – absent with a hamstring strain, the Cards started with Elvis Hammond up front, while Josh Griffiths continued at right back, and Jay Davies kept his midfield place at the expense of Dale Binns. Joe McNerney returned to partner Adam Doyle in central defence.

In glorious early autumn sunshine, with an excellent turnout of Woking fans, the game started fairly quietly: if there was any Woking game plan to assert their authority from the kick-off it certainly wasn’t apparent. Indeed, there were early signs of sluggishness, with Paris Cowan-Hall, outstanding in recent games, finding it difficult to make any impression on a pitch which was bumpy and with plenty of grass.

The only early Woking chance fell to Hammond in the 8th minute, putting a bouncing ball well over the bar. The hosts, however, took the lead in the 17th minute with their first decisive attack. The dangerous Anthony Thomas on the left jockeyed the Woking defenders and unleashed a powerful strike which rebounded off the far post into the path of Ashan Holgate, who fired home.

Four minutes later Moses Ademola made space for himself on the edge of the box but shot over the bar.

Thomas almost got through again, bursting through two defenders before McNerney slid in with a crucial tackle.

Woking levelled in the 23rd minute in slightly fortuitous fashion. There was no doubt that McNerney, picking up a loose ball from a corner, was tripped in the area but, arguably, he had lost control of the ball by that point. Be that as it may, Jack King stepped up and blasted the spot kick past Clement.

Any thoughts that Woking might now up their game were soon dispelled. Only five minutes more passed before McNerney blocked a shot from the edge of his area, with Reece Tison-Lascaris, quickest to react, thrashing the rebound past Howe to make it 2-1 to Maidenhead.

The Cards nearly levelled the score straightaway when Ademola hit the post from a tight angle, but things got worse for Woking in the 33rd minute. Thomas was again given too much room on the left. His flighted cross went over Woking’s central defence and there was Holgate to slot the ball into the net to make it 3-1.

Thomas threatened again with an ambitious effort before King had a shot blocked at the other end. But the raggedness of the Woking defence was all too evident again in the 41st minute. A simple ball over the top left Howe exposed. He was beaten to the ball by Tison-Lascaris, who finished expertly to make it 4-1. Four chances, four goals – in contrast to Woking’s finishing on an afternoon when they had considerably more attempts on goal.

Garry Hill did not wait till half-time to bring on Binns for Griffiths, with McNerney moving to the right to be replaced in central defence by Ricketts. It is debatable which of Griffiths and McNerney was being spared further punishment or whether it was both.

The Cards pressed hard before the break to reduce the deficit but you could tell that it wasn’t their day as every shot was blocked or parried by Clement or one of his defenders. A lovely move between Hammond and Ademola saw the latter’s shot pushed round for a corner, with another effort then being tipped over the bar. Next, Cowan-Hall’s shot was blocked by a defender.

At the other end the impressive Holgate threatened again as he brushed aside Derek Duncan before the referee called a temporary halt to proceedings.

Half-time: Maidenhead United 4 Woking 1

Garry Hill sent his charges out early for the second half, no doubt with some choice words ringing in their ears. The Cards needed to get a quick goal to give themselves any chance of retrieving the game but all Maidenhead needed to do was to put men behind the ball and look to play on the break.

Hammond showed the right intent with a fierce drive but Clement was there yet again to parry the ball away to safety. Binns, seeing plenty of action on the left flank, flashed the ball across the face of the goal but there was no one there to apply the finishing touch.

The Cards continued to press forward but half-chances came and went in the first fifteen minutes as McNerney and Ademola planted headers over the bar and Hammond had a shot deflected for a corner. The Cards went closer in the 62nd minute when Hammond did well to rob a defender, releasing Binns, but the winger’s shot skimmed past the far post. A Hammond left-footed effort went comfortably into the keeper’s midriff.

At the other end, the most noteworthy action took the form of some hesitant clearances by Howe, perhaps not surprisingly unsettled by the poor defending in front of him in the first half – now shored up, however, by the dependable Ricketts.

The early goal having failed to materialise, Garry Hill threw on Ola Sogbanmu for the out-of-sorts Cowan-Hall in the 69th minute. He quickly earned a free-kick but Duncan’s kick was well off target, sailing high over the bar.

A Sogbanmu flick-on presented Hammond with yet another chance but Clement just managed to get a hand to his shot to take the sting out of it. The one-way traffic continued but, with the minutes slipping by, it all seemed more in hope than in expectation. Hammond, falling, volleyed Sogbanmu’s flick over the bar and Doyle tried a long-range effort, which wasn’t far over the bar.

Gez Sole came on for Duncan in the 81st minute and was quickly in action. Two fine free-kicks were repelled by Clement before the Woking substitute put a snap shot wide. Sole then sent in a powerful drive to the near post which Clement parried once more.

With only a few minutes left, but the game well and truly over, Ademola shot left-footed over the bar, while, typifying Woking’s finishing on the day, Doyle headed over in injury time.

Take nothing away from Maidenhead but this was a very disappointing performance from Woking, with few players playing anywhere near their best. There was a lack of urgency and ‘bite’ throughout the side and some worrying defensive lapses.

The only compensation for the loss of vital Cup revenue would be if this defeat serves to dispel any complacency in Garry Hill’s side and is followed by an even greater determination – demonstrated at Staines next weekend – to secure automatic promotion.

Woking: Aaron Howe, Josh Griffiths (Dale Binns 43), Derek Duncan (Giuseppe Sole 81), Mark Ricketts, Joe McNerney, Adam Doyle, Paris Cowan-Hall (Ola Sogbanmu 67), Jack King, Moses Ademola, Elvis Hammond, Jay Davies

Unused subs: Andy Little, Alan Inns, George Frith

Booked: Adam Doyle 25

MOTM: Mark Ricketts (pictured)

Maidenhead United: Clement, Fagan, Behzadi, Brown, Henry, Scarborough, Powell, Hendry, Holgate (Wall 70), Thomas (Kamara 79), Tison-Lascaris (Worsfold 63)

Unused subs: Saroya, Nydell, McKain, Davies

Booked: Behzadi 51, Fagan 54, Tison-Lascaris 59

Attendance: 624

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