Cards' winning streak comes to an end

Haydn Cobb
10:46pm, Sat 18th Oct 2014
Woking 1 AFC Telford United 3
Vanarama Conference
18th October 2014

Woking were left deflated by bottom club AFC Telford United after falling to a disappointing 3-1 defeat at Kingfield.

Mike Phenix gave Telford the lead early on but John Goddard equalised before half-time. Phenix then restored the Bucks' advantage early in the second period before Sam Smith sealed the first away victory of the season for the visitors when Woking were exposed by a slick counter attack just after the hour mark.

Woking threw on Kevin Betsy and Giuseppe Sole in the hope of bringing the home side back into the match but the Telford backline stood firm to deny Woking their chance of a fourth consecutive league win.

It was a game to forget for Woking who never really got into their rhythm and two slow starts in each half cost them dearly. It will also be a worry for Garry Hill that Woking failed to get back into the game against a defence who have the worst record in the league. That said, the Shropshire side performed well, belying their position at the foot of the table.

The Cards began the game in their usual 3-4-2-1 formation, but with Mark Ricketts still out injured Joey Jones filled in defensively with John Goddard as the right-sided wingback.

Chris Arthur continued his fine start to the season, rampaging down the left flank and finding Payne in space on the edge of the box. The midfielder exchanged passes with Dean Morgan and attempted to bend the ball towards the far post but Telford goalkeeper Freddy Hall caught it at chest height.

Both teams used the opening phases to ease into the game but it was the away side who struck first on 10 minutes.

Ryan Higgins won a soft free kick from referee Stephen Ross 30 yards out on the right-hand side. Telford loaded the box as Higgins whipped in a threatening out-swinger which was met by Mike Phenix, who guided the ball beyond Ross Worner’s outstretched right arm.

For all of Woking’s good work defensively, their frailties from set pieces were exposed once again shortly afterwards, with Phenix getting in an unchallenged header in front of the Woking defenders.

The home side took the first 25 minutes to get into their stride and their second opportunity at goal came from a Payne free kick. Telford’s Andrew Parry chopped down Morgan on the edge of the box and received a yellow card. Payne stepped up and curled a fierce right-footed shot towards the top corner but Hall was equal to it, tipping it away for a corner.

The Telford 'keeper, a Bermudan international, joined up with Telford at the start of the month after they had conceded 39 goals in 16 league games. In truth, however, it was the Bucks back line which looked more assured in the first half while Woking continued to look in danger from set pieces.

In the 34th minute, Woking were saved by on-loan goalkeeper Worner after Joe McNerney lost the ball on the edge of the box. Telford worked it wide to Higgins who delivered a low cross to the far post. Telford’s Smith attempted to slot it under the diving Worner but the goalkeeper was able to block his shot and Joey Jones hacked the ball clear.

The threat of nearly falling two behind sparked Woking into life.

The Cards now started to move with pace and urgency and the equaliser came in the thirty-fourth minute. Dean Morgan latched onto a low through ball and his low, hard shot was well parried by Hall but John Goddard (pictured) was on hand to steer his shot home from six yards out.

In added-on time at the end of the first half Woking, their confidence now boosted following their equaliser, worked an inventive free kick from the halfway line. Mike Cestor’s clipped through ball found McNerney on the right-hand side of the box but his clever assist just eluded Jack Marriott at the far post.

Half-time: Woking 1 AFC Telford United 1

Telford made an electric start to the second half and on the 47th minute they again took advantage of Woking’s struggles with set pieces. A long throw from Higgins was flicked on by target man Smith and Phenix was able to slam home his second goal of the game from two yards out.

Goddard continued to sparkle on the right wing as he cut inside and unleashed a 30-yard strike which whistled just over Hall’s crossbar. His urgency began to rub off on his teammates.

From a Worner kick, Marriott flicked past and sprinted around the defence to force a smart save from Hall. The resulting corner was only inches away from McNerney’s forehead and Telford were able to clear.

Being a goal down Woking were forced to push men forward which left the defensive trio exposed against the three Telford forwards and the home side were shortly made to pay.

On the hour mark, Phenix’s snapshot was saved well initially by Worner but the ball fell kindly to Higgins who cut back to Smith who bundled the ball home to gave Telford a two-goal cushion.

With the Kingfield crowd silenced, Garry Hill made two quick changes which saw Kevin Betsy and Giuseppe Sole come on for Morgan and Theo Lewis. The Cards went all-out attack with Betsy and Arthur pushing much further forward and Sole joining Marriott and Rendell up front.

Telford’s defence stood solid despite the continual Woking pressure, however. Rendell had two good efforts ruled offside in the closing stages as the Cards were reduced to long, hopeful balls forward which the Shropshire side was able to smother.

As the game entered five minutes of injury time, Sole and Rendell combined well to draw the defence out of position and create space in a crowded penalty box. Conference top-scorer Rendell struck the ball firmly but straight into the arms of goalkeeper Hall.

Telford continued to threaten to score on the break as Woking piled men forward and Worner was required to remain alert to avoid conceding a fourth.

Overall, then, not a great afternoon for the Cards as their three game winning streak came to an end. On the balance of play, however, there was no denying that the visitors deserved their victory, although they still remain bottom of the table. The defeat drops Woking one place to third, on thirty points, ahead of Gateshead and Forest Green Rovers, by virtue of a superior goal difference.

Next Saturday, Woking host high-flying Conference South side Boreham Wood in the FA Cup 4th qualifying round at Kingfield Stadium.

Woking: Ross Worner, Mike Cestor, Joe McNerney (c), Joey Jones, Chris Arthur, Josh Payne, Theo Lewis (Kevin Betsy 62), John Goddard, Dean Morgan (Giuseppe Sole 65), Jack Marriott, Scott Rendell

Unused subs: Jake Cole, Adam Newton, James Clarke

Goal: Goddard 34

Booked: Kevin Betsy 83

AFC Telford United: Freddie Hall, Andy Parry, Rod McDonald, Neil Byrne, Sean Clancy, Ryan Higgins, Godfrey Poku, Kristian Platt, Mike Grogan, Mike Phenix, Sam Smith (Andy Todd 79)

Unused subs: Jonathan Hedge, Charlie Barnett, Sean Cooke, Jordan Deacey

Goals: Mike Phenix 10, 47, Smith 60

Booked: Andrew Parry 23, Kristian Platt 69, Andy Todd 83

Sponsor's MOTM: John Goddard

Attendance: 1817

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