Much improved Cards brush aside high-flying Nuneaton

Glen Harrington
8:43pm, Sat 28th Sep 2013
Woking 2 Nuneaton Town 0

The Skrill Premier

28th September 2013

Goals from Scott Rendell and Josh Payne ended Woking’s run of just one win in eight games, as the Cards picked up their first home victory of the season. It was an excellent all-round display from the Cards, who dominated proceedings throughout against a Nuneaton team placed second in the league standings.

The home side deservedly took an early lead when Rendell got in front of his marker and turned in Kevin Betsy’s low cross. It was an advantage that might have been doubled if it were not for the exploits of the Boro’ goalkeeper James Belshaw, who saved brilliantly from both Rendell and Payne as the first-half wore on. But Woking did get the second goal just after half-time, when Gavin Williams teed up Payne to fire high into the roof of the Nuneaton net.

Garry Hill and Steve Thompson made two changes in personnel from their side’s heavy 4-0 defeat to Luton Town at Kingfield on Tuesday night, with Rendell and Anthony McNamee replacing Mike Cestor and Giuseppe Sole – who both dropped to the bench. Rendell, who was ineligible to play against his parent club Luton, returned to his lone striker’s role, with McNerney slotting in at centre back alongside Jack Parkinson. Mark Ricketts continued at right-back, allowing Payne and new signing Darren Murphy to partner each other in central midfield, while McNamee took up a position on the left of an attacking three that also included Williams and Betsy.

Woking started the game brightly, winning their first corner within 30 seconds, while Payne saw a volley from the edge of the penalty area fly narrowly wide of the right hand post. A little over ten minutes in and the hosts were deservedly rewarded for their lively start, with Betsy escaping Amari’i Bell (on loan from Birmingham City) on the right hand side and powering in a low cross for Rendell to flick past Belshaw into the bottom right hand corner of the net. Payne came close to a second Woking goal just five minutes later, as a sumptuous curling free-kick from the edge of the area, which looked bound for the top left hand corner, was acrobatically palmed away by Belshaw.

Rendell perhaps should have scored his second, when a delightful back-heel from Williams left him with only the goalkeeper to beat, but Belshaw was out quickly to close the striker down, and was able to get his body in the way of the shot.

Despite boasting the league’s top goal-scorer amongst their ranks – Louis Moult – who has nine goals already this season – the visitors offered little in the way of an attacking threat during the opening 45 minutes, with Ricketts and McNerney particularly impressive at keeping Boro’s frontmen quiet. Their best, and arguably only chance of the half came, perhaps somewhat predictably when considering the Cards recent struggles, from a set-piece, as Gavin Cowan headed over from a free-kick angled into the Woking penalty area.

Half-time: Woking 1 Nuneaton Town 0

Woking brought on John Goddard at half-time in place of McNamee, who had struggled to get into the game during the first-half, with almost all of the play going down Betsy’s flank. The winger also looked to have picked up a slight knock and had been limping towards the end of the half, and Cards fans will be hoping that his withdrawal was only a precautionary measure.

But those fans were soon celebrating once again, as Williams cleverly worked his way out of the right hand corner and squeezed the ball across the box for Payne, who took one touch past a defender before unleashing a powerful shot into the corner of the goal, giving Belshaw no chance.

Boro’ manager Kevin Wilkin instantly responded by bringing on a third striker – Greg Pearson – in place of midfielder Danny Sleath, and the change inspired Nuneaton’s brightest spell of the game, which also included their best effort on goal: Adam Walker’s long range effort that had to be tipped over the crossbar by Sam Beasant.

However, it was Belshaw who remained the busier of the two goalkeepers, as he had to react well to turn Payne’s deflected shot round the post for a corner, before he was almost caught-out by a hopeful shot from distance by Murphy, which looped just over the bar. Woking might have added a third, when Betsy burst past Bell and went clean through on goal. He unselfishly attempted to square the ball for Rendell to tap home, but the pass was slightly over-hit, and the striker instead pulled the ball back to the edge of the area for Williams, only for his shot to be blocked by the recovering defender, Gareth Dean.

The Cards introduced Mike Cestor and Giuseppe Sole in the closing stages, and the latter almost struck lucky and got his name on the score-sheet, as Belshaw was forced to punch clear his corner from directly underneath his own crossbar. Nuneaton also made changes, throwing on Emmitt Delfouneso and Delroy Gordon, but it made little difference as the Cards saw out the game comfortably and consigned Boro’ to their third successive defeat.

It was an excellent performance from Woking against a side which, despite the result, are still second in the division, and have enjoyed a wonderful start to the season. The Cards impressed all over the pitch: defensively sound, creative in midfield, and with viable attacking outlets both through the middle and out wide. The confidence that spread through the team after the opening goal was evident, and the players and management team must be praised for seemingly finding the right balance for the side, despite the absence of Brett Johnson and Lee Sawyer.

Although the Cards remain in the relegation zone, there are just two points separating them from the five teams directly above them, and if this result can be consolidated next week against Southport, they should hopefully soon start to move up the table.

Woking: Sam Beasant, Mark Ricketts, John Nutter, Jack Parkinson, Joe McNerney, Darren Murphy (Mike Cestor 77), Josh Payne, Gavin Williams (Giuseppe Sole 82), Anthony McNamee (John Goddard 46), Kevin Betsy, Scott Rendell

Unused Subs: Aaron Howe, George Frith

Goal(s): Rendell 13, Payne 49

Booked: Parkinson 32

Nuneaton Town: James Belshaw, Theo Streete, Gareth Dean, Gavin Cowan, Amari’i Bell (Delroy Gordon 88), Wesley York (Emmitt Delfouneso 80), James Armson, Adam Walker, Danny Sleath (Greg Pearson 52), Louis Moult, Andy Brown

Unused Subs: Jon Adams, Michael Richens

Booked: Brown 82

MOTM: Joe McNerney – Outstanding display defensively, emphasising clearly why centre back is his best position. He kept both Moult and Brown very quiet throughout with a dominant all-round performance.

Attendance: 1,272

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