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Salisbury City 2 Woking 1

Brian Caffarey
12:00am, Mon 27th Aug 2007
Salisbury City 2 Woking 1
27 August 2007

The Cards? unbeaten start to the season ended this afternoon at newly-promoted Salisbury City, who have now registered three wins and two draws in a superb opening to their campaign. A defensive first-half formation from the Cards seemed to backfire as the Whites dominated midfield, leaving the strikers isolated. It was all change at half-time but Giuseppe Sole?s goal proved a consolation strike only.

In front of Salisbury?s record league attendance, and with Hurricanes and Spitfires providing aerial acrobatics above, the Cards took to the field in bright sunshine. Frank Gray had drafted in Alex McCarthy from Reading to replace Nick Gindre in goal but it was Tom Hutchinson who was probably the most crucial absentee. His absence led to a reshuffle at the back which, with the benefit of hindsight, appeared to put the Cards on the back foot from the start. Frank drafted Matt Ruby into the middle defensive trio and pulled Bradley Quamina back into the right of the back five. Frank also decided to give Michael Charles his first start up front in place of Giuseppe Sole. So, Woking lined up with a back five of Bradley Quamina, Matt Ruby, Paul Lorraine, Jay Gasson and Adam Green (playing in place of the presumably-injured Danny Bunce); the midfield three were Goma Lambu, Jerome Maledon and Matt Pattison, whilst Marvin Morgan and Michael Charles started up front.

A confident, cohesive Whites side were quickly at Woking?s throat, with Robbie Matthews always causing trouble in the air and Matt Tubbs sniffing around for half-chances. Woking defended gamely, with some excellent tackles from Bradley Quamina on the right and the usual robust challenges from Paul Lorraine, Jay Gasson and Matt Ruby in the middle. But you felt that it was only a matter of time before the pressure would tell, particularly as the Woking midfield seemed to be greatly outnumbered and outmuscled by their more fluid opponents. Marvin Morgan and Michael Charles were isolated figures up front, trying to feed on scraps.

It took only thirteen minutes for Salisbury to break through, with Matt Tubbs seizing smartly on a loose ball to fire the ball home past Alex McCarthy, who could not be faulted for this goal or the similar one which was to follow twenty minutes later. On this occasion a long throw into the box resulted in Darrell Clarke reacting quickly to divert the ball into the Cards? net to put the Whites 2-0 up. At one nil down the Cards? task was hard enough, given the paucity of chances we have been creating, but two nil down left us with a mountain to climb.

On the stroke of half-time, in a rare sally forward, the deficit was almost reduced as Paul Lorraine and a defender both attacked a free-kick, with the ball ricocheting off the post. Quite who got the last touch, I could not tell.

Half-time: Salisbury City 2 Woking 0

It was all change at half-time as Woking appeared in their green strip in place of the blue and whites stripes they had worn in the first half and which were too similar to Salisbury?s white kit. More importantly, Frank Gray had changed the formation and personnel. Bradley Quamina, badly missed in midfield in the first half, was pushed forward and Academy graduate David Shin came on for his first team debut in place of Jerome Maledon. With Goma Lambu out on the right and David Shin on the left the Cards immediately looked to have a bit more width and attacking intent.

A poor clearance from the Salisbury keeper gave Michael Charles an early chance to pull a goal back but, instead of shooting, he chose to try to play in Marvin Morgan and the chance was lost. Woking began to take the game to the Whites and Jay Gasson had two great opportunities to get a vital early goal. However, his header was cleared off the line and Jay then shot over the bar from only a few yards out. Had one of these chances gone in, the outcome might have been different because the Whites? defence was beginning to look a bit rattled.

But Salisbury survived this scare and it wasn?t until a lively-looking Giuseppe Sole (pictured) replaced a limping Michael Charles in the 65th minute that the Cards really threatened again. A nice move in the 83rd minute involving David Shin?s run into the box, Adam Green?s cross and Matt Gray?s cushioned headed knock-down for Giuseppe Sole ended with Giuseppe rifling home. But, although the Cards strived mightily for the equaliser, Gez?s goal proved to be merely a consolation.

This game will have posed some awkward questions for Frank Gray. The tactic ? forced or otherwise ? of soaking up pressure with a back five and hoping that Marvin Morgan will grab a goal at the other end proved ineffective. Frank needs to find some way of reinforcing the midfield and providing more support for Marvin up front. Whether Frank can achieve this with the current squad, allowing for the inevitable injuries and suspensions, and the current budget seems debatable.

Woking: Alex McCarthy, Bradley Quamina, Matt Ruby, Paul Lorraine, Jay Gasson, Adam Green; Goma Lambu (Matt Gray, 73), Jerome Maledon (David Shin, 45), Matt Pattison; Marvin Morgan, Michael Charles (Giuseppe Sole, 65)

Unused subs: Ross Worner, Danny Bunce

Booked: Matt Pattison, Jay Gasson, Giuseppe Sole

Attendance: 2093

My MOTM: Paul Lorraine


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