Cards defeated at Grimsby

Ian Toft
12:04pm, Wed 24th Feb 2016
Grimsby Town 3 Woking 1

February 23rd 2016

Vanarama National League

Woking fell further behind in the race for the play-offs with defeat at Blundell Park. Giuseppe Sole’s powerful first half header was not enough for the Cards as it was eclipsed by Jon-Paul Pittman’s early opener and Padraig Amond’s well-taken double.

In a frenetic start to the match, Garry Hill’s side were immediately aware of the tough task facing them as they conceded from the first attack of the game, with Amond nodding back for Pittman to open the scoring. Sole replied midway through the first half after leaping above his marker to head home an arching cross from Bruno Andrade.

However Sole’s efforts were quickly undone by Amond, as two quick-fire finishes at the end of the first half put the Mariners firmly in control of the game. Despite no shortage of effort from the Cards in the second half, Grimsby held on to their two goal lead to take the three points and enhance their own play-off push.

The result sees Woking remain in 11th place but they now find themselves having gone six league games without a win at an important stage of the season. On Saturday, the team return to the same ground to resume battle with Grimsby Town in what should be a well-contested FA Trophy quarter-final.

Having suffered a frustrating defeat last weekend at Bromley, Garry Hill made wholesale changes to his team. Choosing to employ at 4-5-1 formation, only Jake Caprice, Matt Robinson and Bruno Andrade retained their places from the game at Hayes Lane. Nick Hamann started in goal for only the second time this season. New loan signing from Ipswich Town, nineteen year old Joe Robinson was given an immediate start by the manager and he was joined in the defence by Caprice, Joey Jones and Scott Griffiths. Godfrey Poku made a rare start and was accompanied in midfield by Andrade, Matt Robinson, Keiran Murtagh and Alex Smith. Giuseppe Sole was employed as a lone striker.

As the game kicked off under a clear, moonlit night on the banks of the Humber Estuary Woking, in all yellow, attacked the Pontoon Stand in the first half. However, they found themselves immediately under pressure from a confident Grimsby side.

Despite the absence of club captain Craig Disley through suspension, the Mariners immediately took possession and pushed forward. The Cards found themselves unable to settle into their own game plan and soon found themselves behind. In the third minute of the game a long, accurate cross from Grimsby’s right-back Richard Tait was nodded back by Amond into the path of Pittman who finished from close range.

A late crunching tackle by Monkhouse gave indication of the full-bloodied battle ahead for Godfrey Poku. The former Mansfield and Telford midfielder quickly rose to his feet, however, ran off the knock and began to take control of a congested and competitive midfield. His quick turn in the centre of the pitch set Andrade loose on the right. Unfortunately, the good position came to nothing when the Portuguese midfielder’s cross fell straight into James McKeown’s arms.

In the 11th minute Smith broke clear down the left and hit an early cross which was hacked away by Gowling. The resulting Cards corner was comfortably dealt with by the Mariners defence and set about a counter attack led by Arnold. Only good work by Murtagh and Poku prevented the through ball from reaching Amond.

Amond found himself clear for the Mariners shortly after and nodded on for Pittman. Hamann spread himself well to prevent the initial shot and though the ball fell loose, the Cards defence were able to clear the danger.

By the 15 minute period, Woking had managed to settle and carved out their first real opportunity. Clever footwork by Caprice led to a quick cross which was acrobatically cleared for a corner. From the resulting play, a deep cross from Smith eluded most until it was headed away from the goal-line by a relieved Grimsby defender.

Three minutes later Sole poked the ball forward to Smith who appeared to be brought down as he surged into the penalty box. Players from both sides appeared to stop and glance at referee Mr Salisbury but he remained unmoved.

Another Cards attack from a free kick led to Sole getting a shot away that could only be parried by McKeown. The resulting corner fell into the grateful 'keeper's arms.

Grimsby however remained a threat and reinforced this when a quick cross caught the Cards defence off guard. It took an unbalanced Joe Robinson to stick a leg out to deflect a low shot from distance. From the resulting corner, the ball bobbled around the penalty area and Gowling appealed for handball after his goal-bound shot was blocked on the line. His claims were waved away by Mr Salisbury.

The Cards took full advantage of this decision by equalising from their next attack in the 34th minute. A free kick from 25 yards out on the right was expertly crossed by Andrade and an alert Sole was able to rise above his marker to meet the ball first. His accurate header back across goal was expertly placed in the far corner and a fully stretched McKeown was beaten as the ball nestled in the far corner to the delight of the small band of travelling supporters housed at the opposite end in the Osmond Stand.

However, it was for only two minutes that the Cards could hold on to parity. A restless home crowd rallied the Mariners on and as they pushed forward a cross from the left wing by Horwood created gaps in the Cards defence. Amond found himself in plenty of space to powerfully head wide of an exposed Hamann to restore Town’s lead.

Galvanised by the goal, Grimsby pushed the Cards back again and doubled their lead soon after. From a throw-in down the left touch-line, a clever header from Pittman eluded the Cards defence and gave Amond sight of goal 20 yards out. His instinctive first time shot flew past Hamann without the goalkeeper having the chance to react.

As the home fans celebrated, the Cards pushed forward determined to get back into the game. They thought they had got one back when an Andrade free kick deflected into Sole’s path. A quick shot towards the bottom left corner was only prevented from finding its target by clipping the heel of the unaware Monkhouse, a relieved Mariners defence clearing the ball away.

As the first half entered stoppage time, the final chance of the half fell to the Cards. A Smith corner was headed on towards the far post by Murtagh. However it was cleared off the line by a Grimsby header meaning that the Cards would end the half two goals down.

Half-time: Grimsby Town 3-1 Woking

The second half began with Woking now attacking towards their own fans in the Osmond Stand. Despite no substitutions being made, it soon became evident that Grimsby had chosen to contain the Cards' threat and play the second half in a more counter-attacking fashion.

A relatively slow start after the interval meant that chances were at a premium as both sides contested a congested midfield, largely cancelling one another out.

Woking, with the onus on them to get back into the game, had the greater share of possession but were finding it difficult to carve out any clear-cut chances. Hopes were momentarily raised as a high, looping cross was delivered by Andrade from the right hand flank. Matt Robinson was able to beat Tait to the ball but unfortunately could not keep his goal-bound header under the bar.

Grimsby were also finding opportunities more difficult to create, largely due to the committed and tough tackling of Poku who effectively marshalled the Cards midfield. When the ball did get through to Grimsby’s forward line, Amond’s cross from the right side found its way into the path of Monkhouse. His attempt to pass the ball into goal was collected by Hamann at the second attempt.

In the 60th minute Hamann again kept Monkhouse at bay when the former Hartlepool player hit a fierce low shot from 20 yards out but the Woking stopper's quick reflexes allowed him to parry the ball around the post.

Woking’s own chances were by now at a premium. A hopeful effort by Sole from 40 yards out attempted to catch the goalkeeper out. However, McKeown had just about enough time to compose himself and gather the ball on his goal-line.

A series of late substitutions suggested that both sides might now be starting to cast an eye towards the FA Trophy match on Saturday as the pace further slowed.

A final chance fell to the Mariners when substitute Omar Bogle’s low diagonal shot could only be parried by Hamann into the path of an expectant Monkhouse. However, as he passed the ball into an empty net for what he thought would be Town’s fourth, the linesman raised his flag.

With Grimsby content to settle for the 3-1 score-line the match petered out, consigning Woking to another defeat in this challenging run of fixtures.

The Cards will now turn their attention to the long trip back to Humberside at the weekend as they try to secure a berth in the last four of the FA Trophy.

Woking: Nick Hamann, Jake Caprice, Joey Jones (Cameron Norman 80), Keiran Murtagh, Giuseppe Sole (Joe Quigley 76), Godfrey Poku, Matt Robinson, Bruno Andrade (Chris Arthur 67), Alex Smith, Scott Griffiths, Joe Robinson

Unused subs: Jake Cole, John Goddard

Goal: Sole (34)

Grimsby: James McKeown, Richard Tait, Shaun Pearson, Jon Nolan, Josh Gowling, Craig Clay, Andy Monkhouse, Jon-Paul Pittman (Omar Bogle 74), Nathan Arnold, Evan Horwood, Padraig Amond (Ryan Jennings 84)

Unused subs: Gregor Robertson, Aristote Nsiala, Conor Henderson

Goals: Pittman (4), Amond (37), (42)

Yellow Card: Jennings (88)

My MOTM: Godfrey Poku – in a rare outing for the tough-tackling midfielder, Poku would not be intimidated by a confident Grimsby midfield. He was strong in the challenge and helped to crowd out Town in their attempts to create chances. He was also the origin of many of the Cards' surges forward, looking to quickly dispatch balls to the wings to set up attacks.

Attendance: 2,874

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