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Nightmare Start Ruins Marriott's Woking Return

Haydn Cobb
8:08pm, Sat 27th Sep 2014
Woking 2 Kidderminster Harriers 3
Vanarama Conference
27th September 2014

Woking’s spirited comeback from three-nil down fell just short against Kidderminster Harriers as they suffered their third consecutive defeat.

Kidderminster raced into a three goal lead inside thirty minutes with two goals coming from set pieces but strikes from Scott Rendell and a goal for the returning Jack Marriott weren’t enough to steal a point for the Cards.

Woking were denied a share of the spoils at the death by two superb saves by Harriers goalkeeper Danny Lewis, firstly denying Marriott from point-blank range and then keeping out a Mike Cestor header.

The defeat drops the Cards outside the play-off places into seventh place in the Vanarama Conference, level on points with Kidderminster but ahead on goal difference. Woking hope to bounce back from three defeats with a home game on Tuesday night against Nuneaton Town.

Garry Hill welcomed fans’ favourite Jack Marriott back into the starting line-up and slotted the young forward alongside Scott Rendell in attack. Marriott has re-joined the Cards on loan from Ipswich Town until January 4th. The 20-year-old enjoyed two spells on loan at Woking last season when he scored 12 league goals and shared a blossoming partnership with Rendell.

With Woking stuttering in front of goal over the past few games – the Cards have scored just once in the past three games – Hill hoped the pair could get the Cards back in the goals. Joey Jones slotted in as the right-sided defender in place of the injured James Clarke as Woking kept their three central defenders supported by wing backs Chris Arthur and John Goddard.

The home side got off to the brighter start, as Rendell tested Harriers goalkeeper Danny Lewis after thirty seconds. Marriott provided an early cross which Rendell latched on to and poked the ball goalwards but his effort nestled safely into the goalkeeper’s arms. The Rendell-Marriott partnership threatened the Harriers' goal early in the first half with Marriott providing opportunities for Rendell but the Woking leading goal scorer failed to apply the finishing touch.

Despite Woking’s positive start it was Kidderminster who took the lead after 21 minutes. A long throw from Kevin Nicholson wasn’t dealt with by the Woking defence and Michael Gash flicked it on to the back post where Reece Styche had space to volley in from five yards.

Woking have been undone by set pieces previously this season and almost went two-nil down a minute later when an identical long throw by Nicholson caused havoc. A snapshot from Gash forced Cards goalkeeper Ross Worner into a fine save.

The home side’s frailties from set pieces continued five minutes later from a Kyle Storer free-kick. With the ball 25 yards out on the right flank Storer rolled the ball acutely to Gash, who smashed it past Worner.

Woking’s defence were shell-shocked by two quick-fire goals in five minutes but were unlucky to concede a third on 29 minutes. Styche was given time and space on the right-hand side to pass to Storer, who picked his spot and shot from just inside the area. Storer’s effort took a cruel deflection off Cestor which sent the ball spinning into the bottom right corner of the net leaving Worner stranded.

With the Kingfield faithful silenced, manager Hill stood on the touchline and pondered his options. The Cards backline were able to stand firm and just before half-time Woking briefly began to threaten the Harriers goal via a couple of corners.

Half-time: Woking 0 Kidderminster Harriers 3

Neither side opted to make any changes at the break but Woking re-shaped into a 4-3-3 formation with Joey Jones and Chris Arthur playing as attacking full-backs.

The changes and half-time words sparked Woking into life and four minutes into the second half the home side grabbed a goal through Rendell. Arthur charged down the left flank and his early cross found Rendell, who rose highest to nod home his eighth goal of the season.

Woking’s trickle of hope continued to flow as the home side found holes in the Harriers’ defence. Rendell latched on to a through ball but was ruled offside as he screwed his shot wide but it was enough to give the home fans genuine belief.

It also jolted Kidderminster back into the game as they began to reassert their dominance from set pieces. On the hour mark, the Worcestershire side earned their first corner off a mistimed header by Joe McNerney. The Harriers players lined up in the Cards box and Gash got ahead of his marker but his effort glanced off the upright.
Rendell, who had enjoyed a physical but fair contest against Harriers captain Josh Gowling, won a free-kick 30 yards out from the Kidderminster goal on the 67th minute. Josh Payne’s right-footed in-swinger found Rendell, who bundled the ball into the net but it was chalked off for offside. To make things worse for the Woking frontman, Rendell was booked after he was judged to have handled the ball as he tucked it into the net.

As both sides hunted for the fifth goal of the afternoon, the play became patchy, which suited the visitors with only 15 minutes left to play. With a final roll of the dice, Hill made a triple substitution when Giuseppe Sole, Adam Newton and Theo Lewis came on.

In the 88th minute Newton made an immediate impact as he worked a yard of space to deliver a pinpoint cross to Marriott, who expertly headed the ball back from where it came from and past Lewis. The goal gave Woking two minutes plus added on time to find an equaliser and the crowd roared on the home side.

In injury time, a Payne corner caused havoc in the Kidderminster box as the ball fell to Woking but they could not find a way through the bodies.

The away side panicked and were reduced to smashing the ball clear, which allowed Woking to pump the ball back into the danger zone. A minute later Newton swung the ball into a congested box and Cestor’s powerful header looked destined to win Woking a point but a magnificent tip around the post by Lewis kept the visitors in front.

In the end, the two last-gasp saves from Lewis earned his side the three points but Woking will rue their poor start to the game which gave them too much to do in the second half.

Woking: Ross Worner, Mike Cestor, Joe McNerney Joey Jones; Chris Arthur, Josh Payne, Keiran Murtagh (Newton 83), John Goddard (Lewis 83); Dean Morgan (Sole 83); Scott Rendell, Jack Marriott

Unused subs: Jake Cole, Nicholas Arnold

Goals: Rendell 49, Marriott 88

Booked: McNerney, Rendell, Payne

Kidderminster Harriers: Danny Lewis, Kevin Nicholson, Chey Dunkley, Josh Gowling, Jared Hodgkiss; Jack Byrne, Kyle Storer, Marvin Johnson (Callum Gittings 77), Aman Verma, Michael Gash (Nathan Blissett 74), Reece Styche (Craig Reed 64)

Unused subs: Jake Green, Ahmed Obeng

Goals: Styche 21, Gash 26, Storer 29

Booked: Styche, Gash, Blissett

Sponsor's MOTM: Scott Rendell

Attendance: 1,524

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