Clinical Newport topple the Cards

David Richardson
9:37am, Sun 17th Feb 2013
Woking 1 Newport County 3
Blue Square Bet Premier
16 February 2013

Woking will clock up just over 1000miles on trips to Barrow and Southport next week. They would have liked to have taken a good performance and result on their travels to keep their recent magnificent form going.

Woking knew that it wasn’t going to be easy, though, as 4th-placed Newport County stood in their way. But a Woking team that have been “over-achieving� this season, according to manager Garry Hill, would have fancied their chances against the Exiles, having already beaten them at Rodney Parade 2-3 earlier in the season.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be as Newport’s Lee Minshull scored twice in the first fifteen minutes for the visitors, with Byron Anthony getting the third. Gavin McCallum’s late strike was merely a consolation as Woking’s great run of wins came to an end. But, as Hill said afterwards, “18 points out of the last 24 was a total I would have more than accepted a few weeks ago�.

Hill was forced into replacing the injured Aaron Howe with Elvijs Putnins, who made his first league start at Kingfield in goal. Other than Putnins, unsurprisingly Hill made no changes to his team that had been playing so well in recent weeks.

Woking kicked off and instantly surged forward with Billy Knott, who has been so influential in the Cardinals’ recent success, picking out a pass to Kevin Betsy, whose cross narrowly evaded the advancing red and white shirts.

The visitors’ first attack almost brought the first goal of the game. Striker Danny Crow hit the ball on the turn only for Putnins to make a brilliant save that Woking fan and Queens Park Rangers goalkeeper Rob Green, who was watching, would have been proud of. Moments later Crow had another chance, this time a header, which Putnins comfortably saved. Knott, however, pulled up with what looked like a hamstring injury and was then subsequently replaced by Gavin McCallum (pictured).

The Cards now relied upon Betsy to attack from the midfield. Finding some space around the edge of the box, his shot was blocked but fell to the versatile Joe McNerney, who also saw his follow-up effort do the same.

Arguably against the run of play, Andy Sandell fortunately got the bounce of the ball following Betsy’s attempt to win it and crossed for Minshull to rise above John Nutter and watch the ball roll over the line despite Putnins' best attempt to keep it out.

Crow saw his acrobatic attempt drift wide before Betsy’s effort was saved by ex-Card Lenny Pidgeley.

Both teams were battling hard on a heavy pitch and, though trailing, there was no doubt that Woking were very much in the game when Betsy’s tackle on Scott Donnelly was harshly adjudged to have been a foul. From the resulting in-swinging free-kick from Sandell, Minshull reacted first to the ball rebounding off the post and poked it into the back of the Cards’ net.

Newport added to Woking’s problems just three minutes later in the 37th minute when Anthony’s shot found the bottom corner of Putnins goal as the Cardinals failed to clear the Exiles' corner.

The Cardinals responded through Betsy, who looked to trouble Pidgeley again, forcing him to save, this time with his legs, which was then followed by Woking’s best chance of the half. McCallum swung in a cross from the right-hand side to McNerney, who was unmarked at the front post, but the Exiles keeper kept out his glancing header.

Going in three nil down at half-time, the score line slightly flattered Newport, given the chances Woking had created, but the visitors’ finishing in front of goal had been the real difference.

Half-time: Woking 0 Newport 3

Attacking the Kingfield Road End, Woking knew an early goal in the second half could spark a comeback yet nothing was falling for the Cards in the opening minutes. This prompted Hill to make changes, bringing on both Jayden Stockley and Brett Williams to play up front for Bradley Bubb and Lee Sawyer. McNerney moved into centre back with Brett Johnson, and Jack Parkinson moved into midfield alongside Mark Ricketts in a 4-4-2 formation.

Williams almost found the Newport net but his stabbed effort towards goal didn’t have enough purchase on it. Woking continued to press, although Newport remained disciplined and solid.

Williams saw his header go over, as did Crow up the other end with his bending shot from distance. However, McCallum made sure Woking maintained their run of scoring in every home league game this season in the 90th minute as his sweetly-struck half-volley from inside the penalty area found the bottom corner. Five minutes of injury time wasn’t enough, though, to see the Cards pull off a miraculous comeback as the final whistle went.

So, a disappointing defeat for Woking but one they shouldn’t feel too down about considering their recent run of seven wins in the last nine league games, featuring wins over Luton and away at Lincoln. Newport’s performance was summed up by manager Justin Edinburgh appropriately afterwards saying it was, ‘efficient without being spectacular’. The visitors’ finishing in front of goal was clinical and their constant work rate proves why they are succeeding in the league.

Woking will now travel to Barrow on Tuesday, where they will look to bounce back with a win, which is more than achievable given the Bluebirds' current form and league position. No result is certain in the Blue Square Bet Premier, however, and Garry Hill’s men will have to be back to their best to come away with a win.

Woking: Elvijs Putnins, Adam Newton, Mark Ricketts, Joe McNerney, Jack Parkinson, Bradley Bubb (Brett Williams 53), Kevin Betsy, Lee Sawyer (Jayden Stockley 53), Brett Johnson, Billy Knott (Gavin McCallum 15), John Nutter

Unused Subs: Mike Cestor, Andy Little

Cautions: Kevin Betsy 34, Jayden Stockley 64

Newport: Lenny Pidgeley, David Pipe, Tony James, Ismael Yakubu, Lee Minshull, Danny Crow, Andy Sandell, Michael Flynn, Byron Anthony, Christian Jolley (Robbie Willmott 83), Scott Donnelly (Jake Thomson 64)

Unused Subs: Conor Washington, Will Evans, Alan Julian

Attendance: 2116

Sponsors' MOTM: Gavin McCallum

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