Cards battle to important win

Brian Caffarey
9:09pm, Sat 28th Jan 2012
Boreham Wood 1 Woking 2
28 January 2012

This felt like an important win for the Cards, preserving their 11-point lead over Dartford and maintaining Garry Hill’s record of always bouncing back from a league defeat. It was a hard-won three points, though – not secured until Moses Ademola’s strike in the 83rd minute after the Wood had equalised Elvis Hammond’s first-half opening goal.

Garry Hill was clearly intent on going for win, starting with a line-up that included new loan signing Mo Shariff wide left, with Moses Ademola on the right and Wayne Gray and Elvis Hammond inside them.

Woking made a scrappy start on a bumpy pitch, conceding quite a few free-kicks in dangerous positions through clumsy challenges. One of these infringements required Aaron Howe to pull off a fine save, tipping Mario Noto’s strike over the bar as it headed towards the top corner. Noto went close again from the resulting corner, volleying wide.

The Cards began to get their passing game going around the quarter of an hour mark, opening up the Wood defence several times, with shots coming in from Ademola and Hammond as well as a Joe McNerney header from a corner.

At the other end, however, an Alan Inns lunge in the box looked perilously close to conceding a penalty.

Keiran Murtagh – looking much more like the creative, authoritative player whom we saw last season – began to exert his influence on the game,ably assisted by Mike Cestor. It was Cestor who ended a fine Woking move with a cross-cum-shot which bounced off the corner of the bar and post before, in the 23rd minute, the Cards got their noses in front.

Michael Jordan, the home keeper, looked as though he, rather than Hammond, would be the first to a ball played through to the right of the area but he seemed to hesitate, perhaps distracted by one of his defenders. Hammond pushed the ball past him and then had the relatively simple task of side-footing the ball into the open goal.

Boreham Wood quickly sought to get back on equal terms, compelling Woking to concede two more free-kicks in dangerous areas before a shot from Noto was deflected to Howe.

Woking’s next decent chance fell to Gray in the 33rd minute but, having picked up a nice ball from Murtagh, he chose a line on goal which enabled a Wood defender to block him off, with no hope of the referee agreeing to his pleas for obstruction.

A minute later Cestor went on a superb run into the box but neither he nor Ademola could get a proper sight of the goal and the move ended with a Hammond shot which was deflected comfortably into Jordan’s arms.

The Woking pressure continued with Murtagh pinging a fine crossfield pass to Ademola, whose shot was deflected for a corner. Although that came to nothing, Ademola was soon centre stage again, firing a ball dangerously across the face of the goal.

The quest for a now-deserved second goal then produced some clever interplay between Murtagh and Hammond on the edge of the box but the former wanted an extra touch before shooting and was dispossessed.

The remainder of the first half was uneventful, with only a weak shot from Jack King posing any sort of threat to the Wood goal.

Half-time: Boreham Wood 0 Woking 1

Woking started the second half very brightly and it looked as though a second goal would surely follow speedily. Gray almost bundled in a Murtagh cross; Ademola blasted over from inside the box; Gray was just foiled as he latched onto an Inns headed through ball; Joe McNerney’s effort was just blocked; and the best chance of all fell to Gray, putting a left-footed strike over the bar after Jordan had spilled the ball at his feet from a corner.

Then, in the 55th minute, came the sucker punch. Woking failed to clear their lines in a Wood attack. The ball was crossed smartly from the right and Noto, attacking the far post, was there to ram it home for a wholly-unexpected equaliser.

The Woking players must have been only too well aware that Garry Hill’s order of the day was a win, not a draw, and strove to restore their lead. Hammond shot crisply, whilst a flowing move out of defence involving Adam Newton and Ademola saw Murtagh launch a fine strike from thirty yards out which flew narrowly wide.

McNerney went even closer in the 65th minute when, meeting a Murtagh free-kick, he flicked the ball with his boot off the inside of the post, only to see it go across the goal and away.

It was not entirely one-way traffic, with Wood’s nimble forwards always looking as though they might benefit from a quick counter-attack. Fortunately, the offside flag thwarted them on several occasions and there was some good covering by Mike Cestor in particular.

There was controversy in the 70th minute when Wood’s Charlie O’Loughlin, booked fifteen minutes earlier, scythed down Hammond right in front of the Woking dugout. Another yellow card looked inevitable but the referee merely issued a warning to the fortunate Wood defender, who proceeded to thwart the next Woking attack.

Garry Hill threw on Luke Medley for Mo Shariff – who had managed to get into the game a little more in the second half – followed, a few minutes later, by Josh Griffiths for Gray.

The vital winning goal came in the 84th minute as Woking attacked down the left through Cestor, Murtagh and Medley. It was the on-loan Kidderminster striker who crossed well for Ademola to hammer home from close range.

Woking were able to play out the rest of the game, including four minutes plus of added time, in relative comfort, with the ball mainly being kept out of harm’s way in the Wood half, although there was understandable nervousness among Woking fans on the few occasions when the home side managed to get forward. The final whistle was greeted with relief and joy by the many Woking fans who had made the trip to support their side.

Sitting near the Woking dugout, I was in no doubt that Garry Hill and Steve Thompson were very keen indeed to ensure that the Cards pocketed three points from this game. Woking certainly deserved to win on the balance of play and probably ought to have made it a little easier for themselves by grabbing at least one more goal from the chances they created. A definite plus was the display of Keiran Murtagh in midfield, who orchestrated most of the best moves, but there were solid displays from the rest of the side too, in particular Mike Cestor. Let’s hope that they can build on this important win with a really convincing performance at home next week when they face Dorchester Town.

Boreham Wood: Jordan, Sankofa, Jones, Garrard, O’Loughlin, Beckles, Hunter (Lechmere 75), Cox, Bryant, Noto, Lobjoit

Unused subs: Hutton, Wilkinson, Brathwaite, Akinola

Booked: Bryant 35, O’Loughlin 55

Woking: Aaron Howe, Adam Newton, Joe McNerney, Keiran Murtagh, Alan Inns, Mike Cestor, Wayne Gray (Josh Griffiths 83), Jack King, Moses Ademola (Derek Duncan 90), Elvis Hammond, Mo Shariff (Luke Medley 74)

Unused subs: Jay Davies, Andy Little

Booked: Alan Inns 70, Joe McNerney 85, Josh Griffiths 90

My MOTM: Keiran Murtagh (pictured)

Attendance: 413

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