Cards gain narrow win at Crabble

Brian Caffarey
7:10am, Wed 17th Jul 2013
Dover Athletic 0 Woking 1
Pre-season friendly
16 July 2013

The Cards registered a narrow win, courtesy of a close-range header shortly before half-time from ‘man of the match’ Gavin McCallum (pictured), in this competitive encounter at Crabble on a very pleasant summer’s evening. Dover had more chances but some wayward finishing meant that for the third game running they failed to find the net.

Both sides fielded strong line-ups in the first half, gradually introducing substitutes from the break onwards. All Woking’s contracted players made at least a brief appearance with the exception of Kevin Betsy and Joe McNerney. The Cards’ first half line-up looked familiar as far as the defence was concerned, with Jack Parkinson partnering Brett Johnson in central defence, but in midfield ex-Reading John Goddard made a second start, alongside new recruit Josh Payne, whilst up front the main striker was the tall, ginger-headed Ollie Taylor, a 19 year-old from Wycombe Wanderers, flanked by McCallum and Anthony McNamee. The Whites’ side included ex-Cards Moses Ademola and Michael Kamara, with John Akinde and Michael Bakare leading the line.

The game started at a lively pace, which continued throughout most of the match. Woking’s passing – when they weren’t trying to find Taylor with long balls forward – looked slightly more fluent than Dover’s but the Whites seemed to carry more of a threat on the attack. Some nice interplay produced Woking’s first shot, from the typically busy Lee Sawyer, after five minutes but Craig Stone’s left-footed effort, after 13 minutes, was much more threatening, forcing a fine, full-length, save from Aaron Howe. McCallum, with some clever footwork and often moving inside to drive at the heart of the Dover defence, was involved in most of the Cards’ forays forward. He put Newton clear on the right flank a few minutes later, with Goddard registering a crisp shot from the ensuing cross. That was almost Goddard’s last piece of action, however, as he left the field, presumably injured, to be replaced by Harry Beautyman, the well-regarded Sutton midfielder.

Woking’s good spell continued as a cross from John Nutter on the opposite flank led to a blocked effort from McCallum, followed by a very deliberate strike from Sawyer, which was deflected over the bar.

In the 28th minute McCallum jinked his way through in a fine run into the box, where he went down as he was challenged but the referee waved away appeals for a penalty, probably feeling that McCallum had been ‘looking for’ the penalty.

As the game moved towards half-time the hosts had an excellent chance to grab the lead as Bakare escaped past Parkinson, only to blast his left-footed effort over the bar. Woking responded with a fierce drive from Payne following a short corner and then, with 40 minutes on the clock, took the lead themselves. McCallum moved the ball out wide to McNamee and was then in place to stoop low to score from close-range as the cross came in.

Dover wasted another good chance when Ricky Modeste got clear of Johnson’s tackle on the left of the Woking area but there was no one to force the ball home as his cross flew straight across the goal, and they were then thwarted by an excellent intervention from Parkinson as they threatened again.

Half-time: Dover Athletic 0 Woking 1

Moses Ashikodi, the ex-Fleet striker who put us out of the FA Cup last season, came on for Taylor at the start of the second half but it was Dover who resumed more strongly, putting quite a bit of pressure on the Woking defence but creating few chances.

It wasn’t until the 63rd minute that the Cards really threatened the Dover goal, with Ashikodi getting in a fine strike from a McCallum cross, which the Dover keeper saved. Ashikodi was on target again some five minutes later but this time his effort was finger-tipped round for a corner.

The game inevitably lost something of its shape as both sides made a number of substitutions, with Mark Ricketts and George Frith coming on in the 63rd minute, followed by Niall Wright, Gez Sole and Mike Cestor ten minutes later.

In the closing stages Dover spurned several excellent chances to equalise, with the pace and direct running of substitute Raggett creating openings, the first of which he himself wasted as he shot wide with only Howe to beat, with another substitute Chris Kinnear ‘skying’ the second over the bar. The final chance fell to Nathan Elder, who headed tamely straight at Howe.

Garry Hill will no doubt view this match as a very useful ‘work out’. For what it’s worth, I was impressed with McCallum’s work-rate, which, when allied to his skilful left foot and pace, can make him a potent attacking threat, and I also thought that Beautyman looked lively in midfield. Ashikodi managed to get in the game more than Taylor did in the first half.

Woking: Aaron Howe (Sam Beasant 61), Adam Newton, John Nutter (Mike Cestor 74), Josh Payne (Mark Ricketts 63), Jack Parkinson (Niall Wright 74), Brett Johnson, Lee Sawyer (George Frith 63), John Goddard (Harry Beautyman 22), Ollie Taylor (Moses Ashikodi 46), Gavin McCallum (Giuseppe Sole 74), Anthony McNamee

Attendance: 289

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