12:00am, Sat 4th Oct 2008
Woking came away from their first ever visit to Field Mill with a valuable three points after Gez Sole?s penalty was enough to win a scrappy game on a cold and windy afternoon.
Not many Woking fans would have been expecting a win and the statistics before the game would have backed them up. Mansfield were riding high at third in the table with the Cards still in the relegation zone despite recent victories. A look at the team?s home and away records also pointed to a Mansfield victory with the home side yet to lose at Field Mill this season, whilst Woking had gained just a solitary point on their travels.
Woking fashioned the first chance of the game early on but Domoraud failed to take it and the game became unsettled with both teams giving the ball away and failing to create many chances. Neither goalkeeper was particularly troubled apart from crosses and the crowd seemed strangely subdued.
It was the Stags who had the best chance of the half in the twenty-sixth minute. Arnold found space down the right and played the ball back to O?Connor who fired across goal past Pidgeley but fortunately it went the right side of the far post and out for a goal kick.
Woking created little until the final minute of the half when after a corner, Hutch played the ball goalwards and it hit the bar and dropped just in front of the goal but a defender was on hand to clear the ball when Domoraud just needed a touch to put it into the empty net but he did not react quickly enough.
Half-time: Mansfield Town 0 Woking 0
Woking made a change at half time with Danny Bunce replacing Colin Miles. Once again, the wind played a huge part in ruining the game as both teams struggled to control the ball through the air especially at set pieces. It was somewhat surprising therefore that the goal came as a result of a high ball. Pidgeley pumped the ball forward and Domoraud jumped with a defender and both fell to the ground. To the Woking fan?s amazement at the other end, the referee gave a penalty. I was informed after the game that it was given for a shirt pull. Mansfield?s furious protests were waved away and Gez stepped up to beat the keeper and put Woking one up.
Mansfield stepped up the tempo after the goal and dominated possession but despite their efforts were unable to find an equaliser due to some fantastic defending from the whole of the back four, supported by the midfield tracking back, and Pidgeley winning everything in the air.
There were two moments that typified the defiance of the Woking defence late on. In the seventy-seventh minute, a ball over the top saw Stallard bearing down on goal with just Pidgeley to beat. Just as he was about to shoot, Conan slid in with a perfectly timed tackle to put the ball out for a corner.
With just a few minutes to go, a cross in from the left caused hesitancy in the Woking defence and the ball again fell to Stallard who hit the ball goalwards only to see it blocked by the chest of a diving Tom Hutchinson who came from nowhere to prevent the goal.
Woking held on through four minutes of stoppage time to claim all three points and move out of the relegation zone for the first time this season. The reaction of the players and management team showed how much it meant to them to have broken their duck away from home.
In just a few games, Phil Gilchrist and his team have turned things around, and if Woking can follow it up with good results in their two home games this week, the fans can stop looking down and start aiming for a top half finish which on current form is well within reach.
Woking: Pidgeley, Konan, Lorraine, Hutchinson, Miles (Bunce 46), Lambu, Quamina, Marum, Sole, Ledgister, Domoraud (Sam-Yorke 87). Subs Not Used: Worner, Williams, Moone.
Booked: Ledgister, Marum, Konan. Goals: Sole 58 pen.
Ref: D Mohareb
My MOTM: Paul Lorraine
It was a tough choice as a number of players were in contention. Lambu looked a threat whenever he had the ball whilst Hutch was close to his best. Danny Bunce looked like the defender of last year with a superb performance, but for me Paul Lorraine just shaded it with a fantastic performance snuffing out Mansfield attacks as well as winning most balls in the air, whilst his attitude and commitment are great to see. He is looking like another good addition to the list of quality central defenders at Woking and he can still get better as he is only young.