Cards suffer last minute heartache

Phil Batts
12:15pm, Sun 26th Aug 2012
Forest Green Rovers 3 Woking 1
Blue Square Premier
25th August 2012

It was no picnic for the Cards at the New Lawn on Saturday. Having taken the lead through a Kevin Betsy penalty at the end of the first half, Woking conceded a 62nd minute equaliser before cruelly succumbing to two late strikes in time added on. However, even the most die-hard of the two hundred plus Woking fans who made the trip to the Cotswolds would have been hard-pressed to make out a case for the Cards taking a share of the spoils as the team seemed to tire as the game wore on.

Woking lined up in a 4-5-1 formation with a back four of Adam Newton, Joe McNerney (pictured), Brett Johnson and Mike Cestor, midfield of Mark Ricketts, Jack Parkinson, Lee Sawyer, Kevin Betsy and Bradley Bubb and Loick Pires as a lone striker.

The Cards kicked off in bright sunshine and settled quickly. Indeed, they enjoyed their best period of the match during the first twenty minutes, playing some intricate and clever football, particularly in the midfield area. Kevin Betsy, as always, showed up well, Lee Sawyer was an energetic presence and Bradley Bubb probed intelligently down the right flank. After this excellent opening, however, which produced a couple of half chances for the Cards, Forest Green gradually began to find their feet and it required some excellent interventions from Joe McNerney to keep the home side at bay.

On 35 minutes, Mark Ricketts came close to breaking the deadlock when he rifled a stunning thirty-yard shot just over the bar. Forest Green then went even closer on 37 minutes when James Turley headed onto the Woking crossbar following a left-wing cross. This stung Woking into action.

On 40 minutes Kevin Betsy broke well from midfield and an excellent pass put Loick Pires in the clear. With only the ‘keeper to beat, however, he screwed his shot wide. Woking were not to be denied and on 43 minutes broke the deadlock.

Lee Sawyer swung a high ball into the box and Loick Pires was unceremoniously bundled to the ground by Forest Green defender, Turley. The referee immediately pointed to the spot. In the absence of the injured Giuseppe Sole, Kevin Betsy strode up and calmly sent the keeper the wrong way for the last meaningful action of the half. A good 45 minutes for the Cards, who just about deserved their lead.

Half-time: Forest Green Rovers 0 Woking 1

Heavy, driving rain greeted the teams for the start of the second half. From the start Forest Green seemed more purposeful, pushing the Cards deeper into their own half and leaving Loick Pires increasingly isolated up front. Although the Cards created a few half chances with continuing good midfield play from Kevin Betsy, it was no surprise when Forest Green equalised on 62 minutes. Following a right-wing corner the ball was headed on and midfielder Magno Vieira slotted home at the far post.

It was now all Forest Green and on 67 minutes Garry Hill replaced Jack Parkinson with Brett Williams in an attempt to give Loick Pires some much-needed support up front. Nevertheless, Forest Green continued to push forward with the Woking defence looking more and more stretched.

Time continued to tick by with Forest Green unable to find a winner and it seemed as though the Cards might hold out for a draw. Indeed, a good shot on the turn from Loick Pires on 89 minutes even hinted at an unlikely win. It was not to be.

With the referee’s assistant indicating 4 minutes of added time and the ball out of play deep in the Woking half, the Cards elected to make a substitution. There seemed to be some confusion as to who was to be replaced. Eventually, Kevin Betsy trudged off to be replaced by Gavin McCallum. The Woking defence then seemed to lose concentration momentarily and Forest Green substitute Matt Taylor found space in the six-yard box to guide the ball into the back of the net. With the Cards pushing forward in desperate search of an equaliser, Forest Green again broke and Matt Taylor slid in to convert his second goal in as many minutes.

So, a harsh lesson for the Cards. Garry and Steve will be unhappy that the team was unable to see out the game for a vital point having started so positively. Putting things into perspective, however, six points from the opening four games is a more than acceptable start to the season. Hopefully, ‘Fortress Kingfield’ will serve up a further three points on Tuesday evening against Braintree Town, which will cement a position in the top half of the table.

Woking: Aaron Howe, Adam Newton, Mike Cestor, Mark Ricketts, Joe McNerney, Bradley Bubb (Dean Sinclair 75), Jack Parkinson (Brett Williams 67), Brett Johnson, Loick Pires, Lee Sawyer, Kevin Betsy (Gavin McCallum 90+2)

Unused subs: Adam Doyle, Sam Beasant

Booked: Bradley Bubb 20, Lee Sawyer 81, Brett Johnson 88

Scorer: Kevin Betsy 43 (pen)

Forest Green Rovers: Sam Russell, Jamie Turley, Reece Styche (Matt Taylor 82), Magno Vieira (Phil Marsh 80), Jamie Collins, Eddie Oshodi, Ed Asafu-Adjaye, Ben Wright (Kieron Forbes 46), James Rowe, James Norwood, Aarran Racine.

Booked: Jamie Turley 42

Scorers: Magno Vieira 62, Matt Taylor 90+2, 90+4

MOTM: Joe McNerney. A composed display at the back. Read the game well and made a number of important challenges and interventions.

Attendance: 979

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