Cards in disappointing defeat by the Humber

Ian Toft
12:00am, Sat 4th Mar 2017
North Ferriby United 2 Woking 1
Vanarama National League
4th March 2017

Woking fell to a 2-1 defeat against fellow relegation rival North Ferriby United in a tense match which could have gone either way. Gozie Ugwu’s first half finish from close range was not enough for the Cards as his goal was eclipsed by strikes by Skelton and Thompson for the hosts. The result at Grange Lane leaves Woking just one position above the relegation places.

The Cards travelled up to the scenic village of North Ferriby on the northern bank of the River Humber looking to pick up three valuable points. There was a Spring-like feel to the day, reflecting that not just the weather but also a sense that each club’s fortunes were on the upturn. The Villagers of North Ferriby had come off of a crucial 2-1 victory at fellow Yorkshire rivals Guiseley whilst Woking had dispatched play-off hopefuls Dover Athletic last time out.

Garry Hill made two changes to that side that had prevailed on Tuesday with Nathan Ralph replacing Chris Arthur on the left side and Charlie Carter recalled in place of Fabio Saraiva in midfield. Under the shadows of the imposing Humber Bridge the Cards attacked towards the All Saints Church end of the ground in the first half.

The first chance of note fell to the visitors when Carter found a gap down the left. As he reached the by-line he pulled a ball back into the centre of the box. However Skelton was first to read the pass and was able to clear before any of the Cards forwards could look to strike.

North Ferriby’s first attack soon after was equally as dangerous. Thompson was dragged down on the edge of the Woking penalty area and the resulting free kick was a quickly taken low ball hit with pace towards the front post. As the pack all missed the flight of the ball it was left to Poke to scramble across and palm the ball around his post for a corner.

The resulting set-piece was played short and backwards to Taron Hare allowing the Villagers wing back to flight an accurate delivery into the waiting group unopposed. Jake Skelton got free from his marker and planted the ball down into the bottom corner to give the hosts a crucial early lead.

Determined to get straight back into the game Carter recycled a Caprice cross that had eluded all. As he found Ferdinand making space for himself he played the ball backwards. Ferdinand crossed the ball back into the box first time towards the back post and Ugwu who had seen the flight of the ball narrowly failed to get a touch that would have given the Cards an instant equaliser.

Bateson managed to get loose from his marker down the right side. As he advanced down on goal his low hard shot was blocked by Poke’s legs. This fell immediately to Emerton whose shot was directed into Bateson’s path with an open goal to strike the ball into. As Bateson turned to celebrate he saw that the linesman had raised his flag to adjudge that he had been in an offside position from the point of Emerton’s strike.

Undeterred the home side continued to attack at the Cards. Bateson again got clear on the right side and beat an advancing Saah. Another low shot at goal was this time blocked near the goal line by Terrell Thomas.

At this stage the Villagers were comfortably in control of the game and looking to reward their play with a second goal. Hare hit an ambitious dipping shot from distance that took a deflection. Poke looked to be beaten bu the ball narrowly dropped over the crossbar. Soon after, Thompson broke away and attempted to cut inside. Yakubu went with him but could only drag the Villagers’ striker down earning him a stern talking to from referee Johnson. The resulting free kick in a dangerous position was hit with too much power and flew high over the crossbar.

The hosts were made to rue these missed opportunities in the 26th minute when a throw-in from inside the North Ferriby half set Carter away down the left side. As the home defenders failed to track his run towards the by-line he saw Ugwu in the six-yard area. Carter’s low pass was accurately met and Ugwu took full advantage to give the Cards a much needed equaliser much to the frustration of the home supporters.

Perhaps disappointed to have surrendered their lead, North Ferriby once again pressed forward at the Cards defence. A throw-in from Hare sailed deep into the penalty area which in turn was nodded down by Skelton into the path of Emerton. Though he struck the ball powerfully away from Poke it narrowly cleared the crossbar.

Charlie Carter then made efforts to push the Cards forward. As he collected the ball deep in his own half he dribbled half of the length of the pitch. As he approached the host’s penalty area he twisted onto his right foot and looked to get a strike away whilst off balance. Unfortunately this skewed high and wide.

As half time neared Yakubu was booked for holding back a North Ferriby player when another forward rush from the team appeared evident. The last chance of the half fell to Kretzschmar who struck a 20 yard free-kick as a result of a handball decision. Though it aimed towards the top corner Watson was able to read the flight of the ball and collect with both hands.

Half Time: North Ferriby United 1-1 Woking

Galvanised by North Ferriby’s failure to be leading at half time Woking started the second half looking to pressurise the hosts. Ugwu fed Carter on the edge of the penalty area and he shot immediately towards the right corner of Watson’s goal. The Villagers’ goalkeeper acrobatically leaped across and was able to deflect the shot around his post. Soon after, Ralph hit an excellent swinging free-kick towards the back post. This was narrowly flicked away from an expectant Ugwu just as the Cards striker was looking to place his header down on goal.

Thompson’s name entered the referee’s notebook as he sought to prevent another Cards attack. However, Woking then carved open a glorious opportunity to take the lead. Ugwu expertly turned Middleton in the centre of the field and rushed in on goal with only Watson to beat. The Villagers’ keeper waited for his moment to charge out at Ugwu and timed his collection of the ball perfectly before Ugwu could get his shot away. With chances of this nature largely at a premium to this point there was a sense amongst the Cards contingent that this one should been capitalised on.

Though the Cards were at this stage enjoying their best spell of pressure they still had to be alert at the back. This was never more evident than when a quick break from United was played through from the left towards Thompson. As he looked to collect and shoot Ralph read the danger brilliantly and tracked across to beat Thompson to the pass and win a free-kick in the process.

Woking pushed on with a good team move originating with Kretzschmar advancing on the right. As he was tackled Carter picked up the loose ball and pushed forward further. He fed Ugwu on his outside who shot low and hard towards goal. Ferdinand in the centre looked to deflect the strike away from Watson but unfortunately only managed to take the power off of the initial shot allowing Watson to collect comfortably.

Another chance was spurned when Caprice ran hard along the right touch line twisting and turning Tinkler in the process. With the Cards cavalry looking to join Caprice in the box he opted to shoot rather than look for the pass and this flew high and wide of the goal.

These missed chances prompted Garry Hill into making a change. Having run himself into the ground Charlie Carter was withdrawn from the game enabling Fabio Saraiva to be introduced. However, the next play in the 69th minute would prove to be crucial as the home side restored their lead.

Tinkler cut down the left wing and along the by-line before finding Thompson in space just inside the penalty area. Despite a number of Cards defenders blocking his view to goal Thompson calmly saw a gap and placed his shot into the bottom corner of the goal to restore the home side’s lead.

Knowing that a goal was now imperative to being able to take anything from the game the Cards withdrew Yakubu to introduce striker Zak Ansah for his first outing since the Autumn. Dennon Lewis also replaced Kretzschmar soon after.

However the changes appeared to have little bearing on the outcome of the game and there were no more real chances of note for the visitors. Though Woking drove forward in search of an equaliser and the game became stretched all this served to do was to create more space for North Ferriby to run into when counter-attacking.

As the minutes ground down into added time the hosts thought they had capped off the victory with a counter-attacking goal. As the Cards pushed forward they were caught on the break. A United player intercepted and timing his run to beat the defensive line Kendall collected with just Poke to beat. Sensing Cosgrove overlapping him to his right Kendall played the ball around Poke for Cosgrove to finish into the empty net. Much to the home fans frustration the linesman again raised his flag to rule out another Villagers goal for offside as Cosgrove had marginally run beyond Kendall when the pass was played.

In reality Woking had one 25-minute spell of pressure at the start of the second half to show for their efforts at Grange Lane and they will be disappointed not to have taken advantage of this. That apart, the home side will feel that they worked hard for a deserved victory that moves them 3 points closer to the Cards and offers them a glimmer of hope of their own survival. Woking must pick themselves up quickly from this setback and turn their attentions to hosting mid-table Boreham Wood next Saturday.

Woking: Michael Poke, Jake Caprice, Nathan Ralph, Brian Saah, Terell Thomas, Joey Jones, Ismail Yakubu (Zak Ansah 73), Charlie Carter (Fabio Saraiva 69), Gozie Ugwu, Kane Ferdinand, Max Kretzschmar (Dennon Lewis 79)

Unused subs: Brandon Hall, Chris Arthur

Goals: Ugwu (26)

Yellow Cards: Yakubu

North Ferriby United: Rory Watson, Sam Topliss, Mark Gray, Ben Middleton, Jake Skelton, Taron Hare, Robbie Tinkler, Matt Dixon, Danny Emerton (Ross Armstrong 86), Recce Thompson (Sam Cosgrove 83), Curtis Bateson (Ryan Kendall 73)

Unused subs: Matty Templeton, Jordan Cooke

Goals: Skelton (5), Thompson (69)

Yellow Cards: Tinkler, Thompson

My MOTM: Charlie Carter: Tried in place of Saraiva, Carter repaid his selection with a performance full of effort and determination. He was often back in his own half to help to win back possession but also able to race forward as the Cards looked to counter attack at the North Ferriby defence.

Referee: Joseph Johnson

Attendance: 402

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