Nine-man Cards well beaten

Glen Harrington
8:24am, Sun 22nd Jan 2012
Salisbury City 2 Woking 0
21 January 2012

The Cards had substitute goalkeeper Andy Little (pictured) to thank for preventing a potentially embarrassing score-line as Salisbury ran out comfortable winners against nine-man Woking.

The visitors found themselves in a real mess inside half an hour when Aaron Howe received a red card for tripping Robbie Matthews when the striker was clean through on goal. Although Little, on in place of the sacrificed Moses Ademola, saved Matthews’ resulting penalty, the Cards were on the back foot from that moment on.

Matthews atoned for his miss by striking the killer blow for the Whites just before the break, heading in Charlie Losasso’s cross at the back post with virtually the last touch of the half.

Salisbury won a second penalty on the hour mark, this time converted by Brian Dutton to effectively put the game beyond doubt. Paris Cowan-Hall, worryingly, limped off with twenty minutes remaining, but with all their substitutes used, Woking were forced to complete the game with nine men.

Garry Hill, still hampered by injuries to Mark Ricketts and Dale Binns, as well as the added difficulties of Adam Doyle’s suspension and the absence of Jay Davies, opted for a 4-4-2 formation. This involved Joe McNerney slotting into defence alongside Alan Inns and Derek Duncan coming in at left midfield while Wayne Gray partnered Cowan-Hall up front.

Woking started the game in a relatively confident manner, no doubt buoyed by their late winner in last week’s thriller with Bromley, Ademola volleying over after defender Daniel Webb had failed to deal with Mike Cestor’s cross from wide on the left.

Other than the impressive hold-up play of striker Matthews, the Cards’ main concern was proving to be the wind. Howe, particularly, was being caused problems as his usually precise kicks were merely drifting back from where they had come.

Unfortunately, it was a mistake from McNerney, so impressive in recent weeks, that proved decisive, as he horribly misjudged a headed pass meant for Howe and set Matthews through on goal. The big striker knocked the ball round the Woking goalkeeper and fell spectacularly over Howe’s outstretched arm. Aaron will no doubt argue that the touch from Matthews was heavy and that he was unlikely to have reached the ball even if he had not been felled, but few others could argue as he made his way from the pitch.

Thankfully, Andy Little appeared in inspirational mood, no doubt keen to take such an opportunity to press his claims for the number one jersey. Matthews took the penalty himself, hitting it hard to the keeper’s left. Little guessed correctly and, with the ball at a nice height, pushed it away at full stretch, returning to his feet in time to catch a hopeful cross from a City winger.

Little was on form again moments later, player-manager Darrell Clarke swinging in a cross for Stuart Sinclair to head back across goal. Matthews was there to collect, turn, and shoot from six yards, only to find the keeper in his way again.

Cruelly, a penned-in Woking – a man down and still against the strong winds – gave into the hosts’ pressure moments before the half-time whistle, Losasso’s cross finding Matthews in acres of space to head home at the back post.

Half-time: Salisbury City 1 Woking 0

Now with the conditions in their favour, the Cards started the second period brightly, the opposition clearly showing the insecurities of winning just once in their last six games by dropping deeper and deeper in their efforts to defend their lead.

However, with only ten men, many of whom were being committed forward, Woking were looking vulnerable to a quick counter, needing Little to again rescue them by holding up Marvin Williams on the edge of his area before executing a slide tackle worthy of any of his defenders.

Almost any possibility of a Woking comeback was eradicated on the hour as Jack King was questionably penalised for a supposed push on Sinclair. Penalty duties went to Dutton on this occasion, who fired the ball into the bottom left-hand corner. Little again guessed right and might have got a hand to the midfielder’s effort, but this time it was not enough.

Woking threw on Luke Medley and Elvis Hammond in place of Wayne Gray, isolated since the departure of Ademola, and the more defensive-minded Duncan in an attempt to spark a revival. It was to no avail, and the Cards found their day summed up when Cowan-Hall pulled up and limped gingerly from the field.

Further Little saves from Losasso and substitute Ben Adelsbury, along with a saving last-ditch challenge from McNerney, prevented the hosts adding to their lead.

It was a day when very little went right for the Cards, who were perhaps more unlucky than they were poor, and who deserve credit for not simply folding when at a two-man disadvantage. They will need to show the same fighting spirit in next week’s game at Boreham Wood, who, like Salisbury, were impressive when they held the Cards to a 0-0 draw at Kingfield earlier in the season.

Woking: Aaron Howe, Adam Newton, Joe McNerney, Keiran Murtagh, Alan Inns, Mike Cestor, Paris Cowan-Hall, Jack King, Moses Ademola (Andy Little 27), Wayne Gray (Elvis Hammond 68), Derek Duncan (Luke Medley 68).
Unused Subs: Giuseppe Sole, Josh Griffiths.
Booked: Inns 4, Newton 35, Cestor 60, Murtagh 81.
Sent-off: Howe 28.

Salisbury City: Will Puddy, Luke Ruddick (M Clark 74), Ryan Brett, Brian Dutton, Daniel Webb, Chris Giles, Darrell Clarke (Ben Adelsbury 57), Stuart Sinclair, Marvin Williams (Jake Reid 80), Robbie Matthews, Charlie Losasso.
Unused Subs: Dan Fitchett, Abdulai Bell-Baggie.
Goals: Matthews 45, Dutton 60 (pen).
Booked: Dutton 45.

MOTM: Andy Little – The only player in a Woking shirt who would have come out of the game with his head held high, with a terrific penalty stop and several other fine saves. His experience will be much needed during Howe’s suspension.

Attendance: 1,034

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