Woking 0 Southampton XI 2
12:00am, Tue 7th Aug 2007
Woking 0 Southampton XI 2
7 August 2007
We will no doubt know in a few months? time whether the portents for the new season lay in the angry black clouds that swirled around Kingfield all evening or the double rainbow that illuminated one corner of the ground. Be that as it may, the waiting game is nearly over as the Cards finished their pre-season programme with a respectable, if somewhat toothless, 0-2 defeat at home to a youthful but talented Saints side.
Woking lined up in a 3-4-1-2 formation, with a back three of Paul Lorraine, Tom Hutchinson and Jay Gasson; the midfield quartet were Matt Gray, Bradley Quamina, Jerome Maledon and Danny Bunce; and Matt Pattison patrolled behind Marvin Morgan and Giuseppe Sole.
In the third minute Bradley Wright-Phillips spurned the first of at least four very presentable chances that came his way in the opening half, planting a free header straight into Nick Gindre?s arms. It looked, initially, as though the Cards might be over-run by some quick, incisive Saints? passing round the box, but Tom Hutchinson and Jay Gasson both made some last-ditch tackles and defensive blocks, while in front of them Bradley Quamina ? with his best performance so far, I thought ? and Jerome Maledon harried in midfield and got in some useful tackles.
In the eighth minute, though, Wright-Phillips seized on a lofted ball into the area, evading Tom Hutchinson, but his shot was diverted off the line by Jay Gasson. Wright-Phillips then lobbed narrowly over and Jay Gasson blocked a further attempt.
Having survived a somewhat hectic opening ten minutes, Woking began to settle a little and ? as they did throughout the match ? attempted to pass their way out from the back. Unfortunately, moves tended to break down as soon as the ball neared the front three and there was little penetration.
Woking briefly threatened with a couple of corners and a Tom Hutchinson flick-on for Marvin Morgan but the Saints continued to create openings. Nick Gindre came out for, and missed, a free-kick and then dealt comfortably with a couple of long-range efforts and a deflected shot in the area which bounced up nicely for him.
On the half-hour mark Wright-Phillips missed the best chance so far after having been played in perfectly in the box, blasting over the bar. A few minutes later David McGoldrick lifted a better shot over too, and Adam Hammill fired a fine free-kick just wide.
But it was the Cards who finished the half with a belated attacking flourish, Matt Gray getting in a decent header before Danny Bunce?s fierce drive was deflected wide.
Half-time: Woking 0 Southampton X1 0
Frank Gray made a number of changes at, and shortly after, half-time, switching to a 4-4-2 formation of Matt Ruby, Tom Hutchinson, Jay Gasson and Adam Green at the back; Goma Lambu, Bradley Quamina, Matt Pattison and David Shin in midfield; and Liam Marum and Michael Charles up front.
However, the Cards found themselves quickly in arrears as a sloppy back pass by Bradley Quamina was seized on by Wright-Phillips, presenting a chance which even he on this night could not miss.
With Goma Lambu and David Shin both buzzing around on the flanks, the Cards looked a little more threatening up front, and Liam Marum, showing a good turn of speed, twice broke through the Saints? back line. The first attempt was blocked by the keeper?s legs. The second move, a couple of minutes later, saw him burst through only to shoot fairly tamely. In the meantime Nick Gindre had had to get down sharply at an attacker?s feet to prevent a second Southampton goal.
Woking continued to try to feed Goma Lambu and David Shin on the flanks but rarely got into really threatening positions again.
The Saints? second goal came in the 74th minute when Nick Gindre was unable to hold a sharp swerving effort from Oliver Lancashire. Cedric Baseya was on hand to tap the rebound home.
Shortly afterwards David Shin delivered a fine cross towards the far post. Bradley Quamina leaped impressively but his header did not have enough power in it to trouble the Saints? keeper.
The game continued in a similar vein, with Woking still trying to play the ball on the ground but too often across the pitch and lacking the sharp interchange of passing near the area that the Saints were sometimes able to put together in order to create genuine openings. On the stroke of full-time Baseya nearly grabbed another goal as his diving header flashed narrowly wide.
Whether this match tells us anything about what will happen on Saturday or in the coming months is anyone?s guess. The game was played at a slightly slower tempo than some of the other friendly games and the Saints? reserve side?s style of football is rather different from that we will encounter from most BSP teams. What is clear, though, is that Frank Gray is determined that his team will pass the ball on the ground: that at least will be different from last season and must be welcomed. Let?s hope that the potential shown by the team ? evident, for example, this evening in the performances of Bradley Quamina and Jerome Maledon in midfield ? has a chance to blossom in the hurly-burly of Conference/BSP football.
Woking: Nick Gindre; Paul Lorraine (Matt Ruby, 45), Tom Hutchinson, Jay Gasson; Matt Gray (Goma Lambu, 52), Bradley Quamina, Jerome Maledon (David Shin, 48), Danny Bunce (Adam Green, 48); Matt Pattison, Marvin Morgan (Liam Marum, 54), Giuseppe Sole (Michael Charles, 54).