Boz's Fruit & Veg

Robins clipped by superior second-half display from awayday specialists

Malcolm Wyatt
9:08am, Sun 12th Oct 2014
Altrincham 0 Woking 3
Vanarama Conference
11th October 2014

A masterful second-half performance ensured Garry Hill’s Woking climbed four places in the league to come within three points of leaders Barnet with a game in hand.

Altrincham gave as good as they got for large periods of the opening period at Moss Lane, but the 18th-placed hosts were overwhelmed from there, goals from Scott Rendell, Dean Morgan and Josh Payne doing the damage.

It proved to be a third straight win for the visitors, all in yellow and sixth before kick-off, carrying on where they left off at fellow North-West outfit Southport in last weekend’s 5-2 success.

Alty came into this match on the back of encouraging victories over Macclesfield and Halifax followed by a midweek draw at Grimsby, and were soon at their visitors.

Nicky Clee made an early opening, chipping into James Lawrie, but Mike Cestor coolly intercepted, the Cards hitting back with recalled Morgan's corner from the right, Joey Jones unable to beat veteran keeper Stuart Coburn.

Cestor played the Cards out of trouble again at the back and set up a John Goddard raid, the attacking midfielder advancing before finding Rendell, but the top scorer couldn't find the target.

Theo Lewis made a promising run and fed Rendell again, his speculative effort of no concern for Coburn, while Morgan broke through but failed to reach his support as the Robins survived.

A Chris Arthur cross found Goddard for the next opening, but it didn't fall kindly, and pretty soon the returned James Clarke, then Cestor, with a header, and keeper Ross Worner kept Alty out.

Morgan and Arthur combined well as Woking swept upfield again, but were unable to find Rendell in the centre, while Sean Williams drilled wide at the other end.

A Cestor foul led to a 25-yard free-kick from home skipper Shaun Densmore, but his effort was blocked by the Cards' wall and Clee struck the rebound wide.

Worner plucked the next home effort from the sky while Clarke stopped another raid, another home corner successfully defended as the heavens opened and the away fans fled for cover.

Play continued to flow amid the pouring rain, but Goddard's final ball ended one promising attack while Clarke was booked for a foul on marksman Damian Reeves as Alty countered. Clee's resultant free-kick was poor, however, and Adam Griffin's follow-up was woeful, and soon Woking turned up the pressure.

Jack Marriott – more of a threat than at Southport - almost grabbed a goal out of nothing with a cracking volley that the keeper punched over, the resultant corner being wasted.

Worner fisted away a deep Lawrie centre as the Robins resisted, while a delivery at the other end from Payne, skipper as a result of sub Joe McNerney’s illness, flew straight across the area.

A swift home attack then led to drama as Clarke failed to stop the on-rushing Reeves, but - faced with a one-on-one against Worner – he cut back to Lawrie, who sliced wide.

Woking hit back, Marriott setting up Goddard, whose effort was stopped by the keeper, Alty failing to clear, and Marriott was then barely inches from netting with a great effort that struck the top of the right post.

An equally good effort followed for the improving Cards, Cestor setting up Rendell, with a suspicion of handball as he controlled before firing on goal, his effort blocked and Payne's follow-up also testing the home defence.

The Robins countered, Jake Moult striking wide, before Garry Hill's side came again and from Morgan’s centre Theo Lewis headed just over. And the half finished with a long-range Moult pot that almost caught out Worner, the same fate befalling Jones at the other end, Coburn getting down to his fine strike.

Half-time: Altrincham 0 Woking 0

Lee Sinnott’s hosts looked sharp again after the break, Densmore running unopposed on goal until Clarke reacted, while Rendell was back to head to safety as Alty came once more.

A marauding Arthur run that typified his second half followed, making plenty of ground before playing in Rendell, whose header beat Coburn only to be judged offside.

Marriott came close again after Goddard’s through-ball, using his pace before testing Coburn, who saved with his legs, the striker finding the side-netting with the rebound.

The opening goal followed, a 52nd minute close-quarters finish from 12-goal Rendell after great work by Goddard opened up the home defence.

It then went from bad to worse for the hosts as a poor challenge on Lewis led to a straight red for Griffin, and when play resumed – thankfully with Lewis restored – Marriott was almost in at the near-post.

The Robins' problems were compounded by the departure of injured Simon Richman, while Marriott might have done better on the right of the box after a through-ball gave him a clear sight of goal.

But on 66 minutes Woking put the game to bed, a neat one-two between Morgan and Rendell leading to the former timing his finish perfectly, hesitating momentarily before lobbing Coburn.

Changes followed, Goddard and Morgan – recalled in the absence of Keiran Murtagh, on international duty with Antigua & Barbuda - sacrificed for Adam Newton and Kevin Betsy.

Alty weren't finished yet, and Clarke had to clear from sub Tom Marshall, while Payne struck over at the other end.

Marriott was replaced by Giuseppe Sole, but Betsy was next to strike on goal, his low effort flashing just wide after Rendell’s cutback.

Arthur's mighty shot from distance was deflected for a corner as the visitors’ pressure continued, while Betsy and Sole combined in the next raid, the Cards now rampant.

A few home fans drifted away, and for the final minutes the Robins were down to nine after sub Ryan Crowther limped off. But there was still time for a clinical finish from Payne, exchanging passes with Sole on the right flank before firing home with aplomb.

Arthur might even have added a fourth, but Coburn somehow reached his powerful long shot, with Sole – lurking nearby and eyeing up his 100th Cards goal – offside.

Woking: Ross Worner, James Clarke, Chris Arthur, Joey Jones, Mike Cestor, Josh Payne (c), Theo Lewis, Dean Morgan (Kevin Betsy 69), John Goddard (Adam Newton 69), Scott Rendell, Jack Marriott (Giuseppe Sole 77)

Subs not used: Joe McNerney, Jake Cole

Bookings: Clarke 29

Altrincham: Stuart Coburn, Shaun Densmore (c), Adam Griffin, Jake Moult, Gianluca Havern, Scott Leather, James Lawrie, Simon Richman (Ryan Crowther 60), Damian Reeves, Nicky Clee (Tom Marshall 74), Sean Williams (Peter Cavanagh 74)

Subs not used: Steven Gillespie, Kyle Perry

Sent Off: Griffin 54

Attendance: 1,218

My MOTM: Chris Arthur – difficult to call on the day, but Arthur’s second-half display was illustrative of Woking stepping up a gear.

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