Spitfires lose the battle of Kingfield

David Richardson
9:20pm, Sat 3rd Dec 2011
Woking 1 Eastleigh 0
Blue Square Bet South
Saturday 3 December 2011

A week after Woking’s exit from the FA Trophy at Chelmsford, it was back to league action for the Cards against Eastleigh. On a breezy and cold afternoon, Woking won a hard-fought three points to see them move six points clear at the top of the Blue Square Bet South. It was a strong test of character for Woking and manager Garry Hill was thrilled with his team’s victory saying afterwards that, ‘it was an excellent three points’. Hill gave praise to the defenders, particularly Alan Inns, whose Man of the Match performance helped Woking secure their win.

Garry Hill made four changes to the starting eleven that lost a week ago at Melbourne Park. Derek Duncan was not included in today’s squad due to injury and was replaced by Dale Binns at left back. Paris Cowan-Hall, who was rested last week, came in for Elvis Hammond up front, to partner Wayne Gray, who replaced Giuseppe Sole. Adam Doyle was ruled out of action as he was serving a one-game suspension for picking up five yellow cards. Therefore Jay Davies, who, like Cowan-Hall, was rested last week, came into the centre of midfield. Ben Smith, on loan from Crawley Town, made his home debut for the Cards.

Eastleigh manager Ian Baird made three changes to the team that drew with Dartford in the league two weeks ago. Ex-Cards Andy Forbes at centre back and Eastleigh’s target man, Jamie Slabber, both started for the Spitfires, hoping they could turn over their old club and league leaders.

With the ice-cold wind blowing across the pitch, the teams swapped ends, which meant Woking attacked the Leslie Gosden Stand. The game kicked off and it was almost the perfect start for Woking. After Cowan-Hall was judged to be off side and an early free-kick for Eastleigh was dealt with, it was Alan Inns (pictured) who gave Spitfires keeper, Jack Dovey, a scare. A floated free-kick into Eastleigh’s penalty area by Jay Davies found the head of Cards centre back Inns, whose initial effort was blocked. He then reacted quickest to the ball and, with a swivel, hit the ball with venom on the volley but was denied by the post and out for a goal kick.

For the next ten minutes, Eastleigh then had the better of the play, with Woking finding it hard to get the ball down and play their flowing football. The Spitfires threatened from an Ali Fuseini free-kick, the long throw of Graeme Montgomery and Slabber’s physical presence, although the Cards' defence stayed strong. Woking keeper Aaron Howe dealt well with an in-swinging corner with his fists, punching the ball to safety, which triggered a counter-attack. However, Moses Ademola couldn’t find the inch perfect pass to Cowan-Hall.

In the 16th minute, Eastleigh had their best chance of the game. Chris Flood found space down the right-hand side of Woking’s defence, cut inside and forced a good save from Howe low down. Seconds later the ball then fell back to Flood but his shot was deflected behind for a corner. This saw an end to Eastleigh’s early pressure as Woking began to get a foothold in the game.

Cowan-Hall chased down a ball that nearly forced Dovey into a mistake and then an accurate pass from Jack King resulted in a Woking corner, which unfortunately came to nothing. Minutes later, it seemed Woking had to be awarded a penalty when Gray turned just inside the area and was brought down. However, appeals from the home side were waved away by referee, Ian Rathbone.

Montgomery looked to trouble Howe in the 26th minute from long range but his shot flew wide. Woking pressed hard for a breakthrough. Cowan-Hall’s ball through to Gray was just overrun by his striker partner. A minute later, Ademola had an almost identical situation but also overran his chance. The Cards threatened again through Ademola in the 39th minute. Davies played the ball out wide to the onrushing Woking right back, Adam Newton, who got down the left-hand side of Eastleigh’s defence and put a fierce cross into Ademola, at the front post, who headed over.

Just before half-time, Cowan-Hall rose highest from a corner delivered by Jay Davies, but his effort was blocked in the goal-mouth.
The half-time whistle sounded and Woking had struggled to find their top gear.

Half-Time: Woking 0 Eastleigh 0

Neither team made any substitutions at half-time, and the second half began with Woking, this time, getting the perfect start. The ball was worked out to the right-hand side by Davies and King, who found Smith in space by the bye-line. He cleverly slid the ball across the six-yard box to Gray, who finished well.

Eastleigh almost made an instant reply. Montgomery crossed into Flood, who headed over. Slabber, then, in the 51st minute, fired over just inside the Cards' penalty area.

Davies chipped an excellent pass for Ademola to run onto down the middle of the pitch. He slipped, but once back on his feet his shot was blocked. Cowan-Hall latched onto a long ball moments later; however, he couldn’t wrap his left foot around the ball and direct it on goal.

Baird made two changes in the 60th and 64th minute, Richard Gillespie and Jordace Holder-Spooner coming on for Chris Flood and Graeme Montgomery, in the hope of them making an impact in the game and they did. Inns made a crucial tackle in the penalty area and a corner was just about dealt with by the Woking defence.

Sole came on for Davies, who hobbled off after taking a knock. Two minutes later Hammond came on for Cowan-Hall. A few words were being exchanged between Baird and Hill until they were called over and given a talking to by the referee. Substitute Andrew White came on in the 82nd minute and made an instant impact. He crossed the ball into Slabber, who miscued his header and Howe made a comfortable save.

Eastleigh then really piled on the pressure with Woking’s defence slipping deeper and deeper into their own half but, despite creating a number of chances, the Cards' defence held firm. Deep into the five minutes of added time, a cross into the back post to Eastleigh’s captain and central defender, Tom Jordan, saw him force a magnificent save from Howe at close range.

The full-time whistle went and Woking had secured another precious three points. Garry Hill will know his team didn’t play to their best today but still got the all-important win against a battling Eastleigh side. It’s now an impressive 46 points out of a possible 57 and Garry Hill and Steve Thompson’s excellent partnership has put Woking on course for promotion as the team head into vital games against Sutton United and Dartford.

Woking: Aaron Howe, Adam Newton, Ben Smith, Mark Ricketts, Alan Inns, Jay Davies (Giuseppe Sole 78), Paris Cowan-Hall (Elvis Hammond 80), Jack King, Moses Ademola (Josh Griffiths 90), Wayne Gray, Dale Binns

Unused Subs: Andy Little, Ola Sogbanmu

Caution: Jack King

Eastleigh: Jack Dovey, Andy Forbes, Michael Green, Jamie Brown, Tom Jordan, Scott Rogers, Ali Fuseini (Andrew White 82), Danny Smith, Jamie Slabber, Chris Flood (Richard Gillespie 60), Graeme Montgomery (Jordace Holder-Spooner 64)

Unused Subs: Gareth Barfoot, Billy Tsovolos

Caution: Jamie Brown

MOTM: Alan Inns

Attendance: 1610

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