Cards Floored by Improving Moors

Adam Leary
12:00am, Sat 20th Jan 2018
Solihull Moors 3 Woking 0
Vanarama National League
20th January 2018

Woking slumped to a disappointing reverse on their travels with a performance that failed to warm the spirits of the travelling fans on a bitterly cold day in the West Midlands. The visitors arrived at a snowy Damson Parkway hoping to arrest a poor run of results that has left the Cards fans feeling the grip of winter, however, this loss must have left Anthony Limbrick’s side ruing the decision by the officials not to make the match a victim of the weather.

In fairness to the match referee Ryan Johnson, the snow showers on arrival soon stopped and the carpet of snow on the pitch quickly cleared once the match kicked off. By the end of the 90 minutes, Woking were regretting not making the most of promising periods of attacking play in the first half of the game, and then an inability to respond to two second half goals from Jermaine Hylton. His second half brace added to the home side’s opener from Kwame Thomas, to give much improved Moors an invaluable three points.

Before the game was a minute’s applause to mark the passing of Cyrille Regis, the pioneering footballer who is particularly revered in the West Midlands, and a reminder of the potential that can so often be found in the non-league game following his early career with Molesey and Hayes.

Anthony Limbrick made three changes from the home defeat to Tranmere Rovers. Inih Effiong, who moved to Ross County on the eve of this match, was replaced by Jonny Edwards in the starting line up; Matt Young dropped to the bench, as did Declan Appau. Chez Isaac returned from suspension to start in the heart of midfield, and Reece Grego-Cox came in to the starting line up to partner Edwards up front, with Limbrick moving to a dual strike force.

Woking started the game brightly and could have scored in the first minute. Edwards did well in the right hand channel of the penalty area and whipped in a fine cross which was met by the head of Charlie Carter, who beat the keeper O’Leary but saw the ball rebound agonisingly off the post. The Cards had started brightly, Carter looking to complement the sharp movement of the two frontmen from an advanced right midfield position.

However, against the early run of play the home side took the lead on 6 minutes. A corner, swung in from Darren Carter, was not cleared convincingly by the Cards rearguard and; after some pinball in the box the ball fell to Thomas who fired home from 12 yards.

The Cards came close to getting back on level terms on 10 minutes, Grego-Cox dropping into the hole and playing a lovely through ball to Carter, who was denied one-on-one by a good stop from O’Leary. Grego-Cox looked bright in the early exchanges, with a right foot shot forcing the on-loan Bristol City stopper into a decent save soon after.

The home side - whose recent form under Mark Yates belies their lowly position in the National League relegation zone - posed a threat on the break, particularly down the left hand side with Jamie Reckord and through the tireless running of top scorer Oladapo Afolayan.

Carter was the pick of the players in the first half for the visitors, some clever footwork from him saw him drive forward and pick out Anthony Cook to the left, however, he couldn’t keep his shot down.

With two minutes to go before the interval, the Cards had a great chance to equalise. Cook played the ball dangerously into the box; Carter looked to find a yard of space for a shot but ended up back-heeling to Isaac, whose shot was cleared off the line. The Cards were unable to force the ball home in the ensuing scramble, in stark contrast to the way the home side opened the scoring.

Half-time: Solihull Moors 1 Woking 0

Anthony Limbrick would have been hoping for the Cards to kick on in the second half and work their way back into what was an even contest. As at the start of the first half, the Woking strike pair of Grego-Cox and Edwards were willing runners, and the Cards began to dominate possession. The visitors created an excellent chance five minutes after the break, Cook getting to the byline well and picking out Kane Ferdinand near the penalty spot, only for the midfielder to blaze his shot over the away terrace, to the visible frustration of his manager.

The home side almost made Woking pay instantly, with Isaac mis-controlling a ball in his own penalty box. Nathan Baxter picked the loose ball up, only for the referee to deem the movement a deliberate back pass. The resulting indirect free kick saw the Cards charge the ball down determinedly, and the shot from Darren Carter was smashed wide of the target in a bid to avoid the onrushing red and white defenders.

On 57 minutes the home side extended their lead. A mistake from Fabio Saraiva, playing out of position at left back, saw him beaten to the ball by Hylton, who advanced into the box and chipped the ball beyond Baxter who rushed out to narrow the angle. Louis Ramsay chased the ball back towards the goal, but agonisingly for Woking he was unable to prevent it trickling into the net.

This second goal appeared to knock the stuffing out of the Cards, who huffed and puffed in a bid to get back in the game. Limbrick introduced Jason Banton for Chez Isaac on 63 minutes, who helped the Cards control possession more, but without a huge amount of end product in terms of creating bona fide opportunities.

On 73 minutes, Moors made the game safe with a third goal. Baxter did well to punch clear a corner, but, as has been often the case with Woking in recent weeks, the Cards were unable to convincingly clear the danger. The ball came back into the box and Hylton rose to head home his second goal of the game.

The Cards grew increasingly frustrated as the game wore on, Cook getting involved in some pushing and shoving with Hylton exemplifying this. Declan Appau was introduced for Fabio Saraiva, Cook moving into a left back position.

Woking tried to get back into the game, and almost grabbed a consolation goal through Carter, whose left foot strike was brilliantly tipped over the bar by O’Leary. Whilst far from overworked, the home keeper had an excellent match, highlighted by a fine reaction save from his own defender Jamey Osborne, who sliced the ball wildly.

This final piece of action rather summed up the Cards fortunes in this game, and the 4 minutes of added time produced little of note, the referees whistle putting the Cards out of their misery.

This was an uncomfortable afternoon for Woking who, whilst not being three goals inferior to the hosts in general play, suffered from a lack of decisiveness in both penalty areas in contrast to their hosts. The difference in confidence was apparent between the sides, Moors looking like an improving side and the Cards wondering where the next win will come from. It must be hoped that it comes on Tyneside on Tuesday night, when Woking travel to Gateshead.

Solihull Moors: Max O’Leary, Kristian Green, Darren Carter (C), Kyle Storer (Paul Green 85), Jermaine Hylton, Oladapo Afolayan (Opanin Edwards 66), Jamie Reckford (Benedict Frempah 81), Liam Daly, Fiacre Kelleher, Jamey Osborne, Kwame Thomas

Subs not used: Romario Martin, George Carline

Goals: Thomas (6), Hylton (57, 72)

Bookings: None

Woking: Nathan Baxter, Louis Ramsey, Joey Jones ©, Josh Staunton, Chez Isaac (Jason Banton 63), Charlie Carter, Fabio Saraiva (Declan Appau 74), Reece Grego-Cox, Kane Ferdinand, Antony Cook, Jonny Edwards

Subs: Sam Mason, Richard Orlu, Matt Young

Goals: None

Bookings: None

Attendance: 638

Referee: Ryan Johnson

My MOTM – Charlie Carter. Whilst this was a difficult match to pick out any outstanding Woking player, Charlie Carter was probably the pick of the bunch. Bright, lively, and close to scoring on a few occasions, not least with that early header against the post which could have led to a totally different outcome.

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