Impressive Cards make it two in a row

Brian Caffarey
8:58am, Wed 25th Nov 2015
Woking 4 Tranmere Rovers 1
Vanarama National League
24 November 2014

The Cards made it two wins in a row – and their first win at home in seven attempts – with this terrific performance against a Tranmere Rovers side who, after a dazzling opening spell, were gradually hauled back and eventually humbled by a determined and effervescent Woking side, epitomised by ‘man of the match’ Dan Holman (pictured) who, in addition to scoring two superb goals, ‘worked his socks off’ all night.

On a calm, clear moonlit evening, the Cards lined up on a greasy pitch with the same side that had gained a confidence-building 2-1 win at Chester at the weekend. A fast opening from both teams saw Rovers, in fluorescent yellow strip, go all out for an opening goal, no doubt well aware of the Cards’ recent tendency to struggle when behind. Jay Harris threatened to run right through the Woking defence from the kick-off but John Goddard responded with a fine surge down the Woking left. But for the next ten minutes Rovers, with quick diagonal passes in attack, seemed to slice all too easily through an initially static-looking Woking midfield and defence. Gary Taylor-Fletcher, not so long ago plying his trade for Blackpool in the Premiership, had three attempts on goal, the best side-footed wide from a good position. Jake Cole also needed two attempts to foil another strike on goal before excelling with a vital double save, palming the ball away to safety after blocking the first shot.

That was about as good as it got for Rovers, however, as the Cards grew in confidence and Rovers found it impossible to sustain their early momentum. Joey Jones began to dominate in central defence, intercepting well and moving the ball intelligently out from the back, while Cameron Norman looked solid again at right back.

It was now Woking’s turn to threaten, with Bruno Andrade’s cross nearly producing an own goal as a Rovers defender dived to head the ball just over his own bar. Rovers did get the ball in the net in the 20th minute after another slick move but Taylor-Fletcher was flagged for offside. Mark Ricketts also had to hurl himself at the ball to block a goal attempt.

Woking were soon rewarded – perhaps surprisingly quickly – for their early resilience, taking the lead in the 27th minute. Jones started the move with a fine tackle, fed Andrade, whose chipped cross was superbly met by Holman, moving in smartly to direct his header deftly past keeper Scott Davies.

Woking threatened again as Joe Quigley did well to ward off several tackles before drawing a foul just outside the area. But Tranmere’s wall did its job, with Goddard’s free-kick being diverted away for a corner. It was then Andrade’s turn to show as an excellent block by Norman led to a fast break out of defence, but the pacy winger’s shot was blocked as he tore through the middle. With their tails up, the Cards harried and pressed Tranmere when the latter had the ball, with Holman especially impressive with his non-stop running.

Things got even better for the Cards in the 40th minute when Holman drove forward, unleashing a left-footed strike from just outside the box, which bounced off keeper Davies for Goddard, backing up, to side-foot home to make it 2-0.

The Cards made it comfortably to half-time, with Cole having no trouble in dealing with a looped header from ex-Luton defender Steve McNulty.

Half-time: Woking 2 Tranmere Rovers 0

The Cards had to be grateful to Jones and Ricketts for two early blocks as Tranmere strove to get an early goal back after the break. But Holman was soon causing problems again as another determined run led to a shot wide of the goal. At the other end Andy Mangan headed a cross well wide – typifying some profligate finishing by the visitors on a night when they had plenty of shots but few on target.

Woking effectively made the game safe in the 55th minute. Quigley let a diagonal ball run past him out towards the Woking left where Holman did brilliantly to get in behind a defender, evade a lunge, open out his body and steer the ball just inside the far post. A wonderful goal from a player who buzzed all evening.

There was almost a fourth goal three minutes later when Davies redeemed his earlier suspect handling with a fine double save from Goddard and Holman.

By this stage Tranmere were unrecognisable from the side which had started so brightly, with passes and shots going astray and the defence looking vulnerable to every Woking attack. Another move down the Woking left saw Chris Arthur advance promisingly but his cross went behind the Woking attackers. Then Quigley burst through but couldn’t seem to make his mind up whether to shoot or pass. At the back Jones continued to shine, with Taylor-Fletcher not for the last time failing to make the most of a good chance as he spurned an inviting cross.

It was soon 4-0 to the Cards as Quigley this time managed to beat a defender and keeper to slot home for a welcome goal on his home debut.

Substitute Jake Caprice produced one of several fine runs down the right but his low, hard cross evaded his team mates. Rovers’ fortunes on the night were summed up when another tempting cross went begging and then the ball cannoned off the Woking crossbar and away to safety.

The Cards ran out the remaining ten minutes or so of normal time very comfortably, with Caprice also delighting the crowd with some more skilful play down the right. But in added time James Norwood scored a consolation goal for the visitors with a tremendous solo run and finish, which rightly drew applause from home fans, who could afford to take a generous view on a night when almost everything had gone Woking’s way.

After surviving some intense early pressure this was a hugely impressive display by a Woking side in which everyone played their part and which was characterised by hard work, commitment and growing self-belief.

Woking: Jake Cole, Chris Arthur, Brian Saah, Joey Jones, Cameron Norman, John Goddard, Mark Ricketts (Jimmy Keohane 77), Matt Robinson, Bruno Andrade (Jake Caprice 71), Dan Holman, Joe Quigley (Kadell Daniel 81)

Unused subs: Nick Hamann, Terell Thomas

Goals: Dan Holman 27 and 55, John Goddard 40, Joe Quigley 73

Booked: Chris Arthur, Mark Ricketts, Cameron Norman

Tranmere Rovers: Scott Davies, Steve Jennings, Liam Hogan, Jay Harris, Gary Taylor-Fletcher, James Norwood, Lois Maynard, Andy Mangan (Ben Tomlinson 58), Matt Hill, Adam Mekki (Ritchie Sutton 62), Steve McNulty

Unused subs: Iain Turner, Liam Ridgehalgh, Jonathon Margetts

Goal: James Norwood 90

Booked: Matt Hill, Jay Harris

Attendance: 1477

Sponsors’ MOTM: Dan Holman

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