Disappointing Cards beaten by lowly Swans

Glen Harrington
9:48pm, Sat 7th Jan 2012
Woking 0 Staines Town 1
Blue Square Bet South
7th December 2012

An injury-hit Woking found themselves victim to a surprising defeat by relegation candidates Staines Town after Ali Chaaban’s goal deservedly handed the Swans victory.

The visitors edged an extremely low quality first period and should have taken the lead in stoppage time when Joe McNerney (pictured) handled in the area – Aaron Howe smartly saving Chaaban’s penalty.

Five minutes after the re-start and Staines did have the lead, an unchallenged Chaaban allowed time and space on the edge of the area, curling his effort past the despairing right hand of a diving Howe.

The Cards might have claimed an unlikely equaliser at the death, but Jack King struck his penalty well wide after Paris Cowan-Hall had been felled by Jake Goodman, the defender sent-off as a result of the challenge.

League leaders Woking came into the game on the back of a sixteen-match unbeaten league run stretching back to early September while the Swans, despite a 4-1 defeat at Hampton & Richmond last time out, had won their last two on the road, indicating an upturn in fortunes.

Garry Hill’s side were without top scorer Moses Ademola due to an ankle injury while fellow wide-man Dale Binns was also absent. Blue Square South player of the month Alan Inns was only able to make the bench following a broken wrist, while skipper Mark Ricketts remains side-lined with a broken leg. However, the Cards were able to welcome back goalkeeper Howe, striker Cowan-Hall, and hand a second home debut to Keiran Murtagh after his re-joining of the club on loan from Cambridge United. There were also starts for Derek Duncan and Giuseppe Sole.

A dull first period ensued as the Swans aimed to contain a below-par Woking, who looked surprisingly short of their usual confidence and desire. Staines’ threat grew and they forced the only notable chance of the opening exchanges as Goodman headed Gareth Risbridger’s cross against the bar, a tame rebound from Chaaban easily held by Howe.

Despite some brief flashes of quality, provided primarily through the bursting runs of Adam Newton from right back, the visitors began to look the more likely team to force an opening – while Joe Dolan looked assured in keeping a frustrated Elvis Hammond at bay.

Staines’ endeavour was rewarded in stoppage time with a questionable penalty – McNerney, who had appeared to have been fouled by Dolan in the build-up, adjudged to have handled. Not for the first time this season, Howe came to Woking’s rescue, diving low to his left to keep out Chaaban’s effort.

Half-time: Woking 0 Staines Town 0

No doubt keen to atone for his poor penalty, Chaaban gave his side the lead at the start of the second half, giving Howe no chance with a fine effort from the edge of the Woking penalty area.

The Cards went from bad to worse in response as bad luck turned to outright mistakes – Adam Doyle’s obvious back-pass inexplicably picked up by an unchallenged Howe to gift the visitors another golden opportunity – Tom Kavanagh with a thankfully poor effort.

Jack King finally handed the Cards their first effort on goal with an optimistic twenty-yard volley, but with the lead now theirs the visitors were keen to simply guard what they had won.

With half an hour remaining the much needed Woking changes arrived – Josh Griffiths and Wayne Gray replacing the disappointing pair of Sole and Hammond, who had admittedly received little service from a struggling Woking midfield.

Poor efforts from Murtagh and King aside, the Cards continued to struggle to produce chances, let alone score, favouring the long ball rather than attempting to pass through the stubborn Staines defence, the height of Gray at least giving the hosts something to aim for.

Garry Hill, bold as ever, threw on Inns as an extra striker, the regular defender being used in a desperate attempt to challenge the aerial dominance of the visitors' defensive pairing of Dolan and Goodman. His team were able to produce little until stoppage time, when Cowan-Hall’s burst of pace allowed him to escape a challenge and draw a clear foul from Goodman, the Staines defender receiving his second yellow card and then a red.

Up stepped King, scorer of seven out of seven penalties prior to today, but, perhaps only to emphasise the Cards' worst performance of the season, he struck his effort well wide, sadly his angered volley two minutes later coming far closer.

I think it is fair to say that Staines’ celebrations of only their fifth league win of the season were well deserved and that they will surely haul themselves to league safety. It is perhaps also reasonable to say that the defeat was a result that had been coming for the Cards after some recent underwhelming performances.

However, Woking still hold a 12 point lead at the top of the table after Chelmsford City also fell to defeat today (3-2) in their game with Sutton United. No team will go without their bad patch in a title-winning season, and there is little doubt that the management team, who have been outstanding since their arrival this time last year, will turn things around sooner rather than later, hopefully starting with next week’s game at Kingfield against Bromley, beaten 3-1 today by Basingstoke and another side struggling at the wrong end of the table.

Woking: Aaron Howe, Adam Newton, Derek Duncan, Keiran Murtagh, Joe McNerney, Adam Doyle, Jay Davies (Alan Inns 69), Jack King, Paris Cowan-Hall, Elvis Hammond (Wayne Gray 59), Giuseppe Sole (Josh Griffiths 59)

Unused Subs: Andy Little, George Frith

Booked: Davies 11, Doyle 90

Staines Town: Rhys Evans, Simon Jackson, Joe Dolan, Danny Gordon, Jake Goodman, Ali Chaaban, Tom Kavanagh, Gareth Risbridger, Adam Thompson (Mark Nwokeji 80), Aiden O’Brien (Richard Butler 72), Adam Everitt

Unused Subs: David Wheeler, Andre Scarlett, Marc Charles-Smith.
Goals: Chaaban 50

Booked: Everitt 4, Goodman 73 & 90, Risbridger 89

Sent-off: Goodman 90

MOTM: Joe McNerney – The result could have been more embarrassing were it not for the centre back’s impressive display

Attendance: 2,104

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