Cards Held by Lowly Linnets

Michael MacKinnon
7:00pm, Wed 9th Mar 2022
King’s Lynn 0 Woking 0
Vanarama National League
8th March 2022

A sparse crowd of just over 700 turned out on a cold evening to see two sides struggling for form play out a dour goalless draw. Wet weather had seen the game postponed twice, and the hardy 50 or so Woking fans who made the long trip to Norfolk might have left wishing it had been postponed a third time. However, after a difficult season, there were a few glimmers of the improvement that the Cards had shown at the weekend against Grimsby Town.

A knock for Louis Annesley saw him miss out. The returning David Longe-King took his place on the right-hand side of a four-man defence. With Jack Roles and Rohan Ince still suspended, Max Kretzschmar returned to the starting line-up for the first time since his injury. Tarryn Allarakhia was the player who dropped out.

King’s Lynn made five changes to the side that lost a two-goal lead away to Solihull Moors on Saturday. Amongst the players coming in was their captain, Michael Clunan, amid speculation that he might be about to leave the club.

In a fairly even first half, Woking looked slightly the better side. Inih Effiong and Tyreke Johnson were combining well down the left and caused the Linnets defence some real problems.

However, the first real chance of the game fell to the home side on ten minutes. A cross from the left was headed back across goal by Omotayo, and Wycombe Wanderers loanee Malachi Linton brought out a sharp save from Craig Ross, low to his right. It was a warning shot for the Cards, and a reminder of the difficulties that they’ve had under a crossed ball this season.

It didn’t take long for the Cards to respond. Longe-King’s excellent cross was met by Effiong but his header took a touch off a defender and went out for a corner.

Woking still looked vulnerable to crossed balls, and Craig Ross did well to hold on to a low free kick from the left that had eluded everyone.

A minute later, the Linnets broke well down the right, and Linton sent a dangerous cross to the far post. This time though, Woking defended it well, with Longe-King doing enough to prevent the chance and winning a free-kick in the process.

Gradually the Cards began to impose themselves. After a period of sustained possession, the ball was worked to the ever-industrious Max Kretzschmar but his low cut-back couldn’t find a Woking shirt.

Just after the half-hour mark, Ross had to look lively to parry away a shot by Linton. A couple of minutes later it was Tom Champion’s turn to get a crucial touch on a low cross with a couple of Linnets waiting to pounce.

Nicke Kabamba then went close for Woking. His well struck shot from the edge of the D was gathered by Paul Jones at the second attempt, with Effiong closing in.

It reflected the quality of the game that perhaps the biggest cheer of the first half came when Tyreke Johnson was piggybacked off the pitch by an overly exuberant Linnet, after he’d done well to shepherd the ball out of play for a Woking goal-kick. The resulting scuffle was quickly dealt with by the referee.

It was Kabamba again who spurned probably the Cards’ best chance of the half. Everything good was coming down the left-hand side for Woking, with Kretzschmar, Casey, and Johnson linking well. Casey’s cross was met by Kabamba, but he sent his header wide when he really should have done better.

Shortly before half-time there was one more chance for Woking. Some great interplay around the box saw the ball worked to Effiong. It looked for all the world like he was going get his shot away but a brilliant last-ditch tackle by Tyler Denton cleared the danger.

Half-time: King’s Lynn 0 Woking 0

The Cards began the second half strongly. A few minutes in, the impressive Inih Effiong was desperately unlucky to see his powerful shot crash off the outside of the post, with the keeper well beaten. He’d created the chance himself, showing strength and skill to beat the defender and get his shot away.

Effiong turned provider moments later, sliding a brilliant pass through to Tyreke Johnson. He did well to hold off the defender but pulled his shot just wide.

These were encouraging signs for the Cards, and they really should have taken the lead in the 54th minute. Kretzschmar won the ball back on the halfway line and sent Effiong down the left. His low cross was begging to be tapped home, but Oliver Pendlebury couldn’t control it and the ball trundled harmlessly wide.

Still Woking kept knocking on the door. Kretzschmar tried his luck from distance, and Jones had to parry it away.

The tireless Effiong then won a corner from nothing. It was a perfect example of the virtue of chasing a lost cause. An overhit pass rebounded off the corner flag and, under pressure from Effiong, the Linnets defender was forced to put the ball out of play. Diarra managed to connect with the resulting corner, but his header was well off-target.

Ian Dyer made his first substitution on 62 minutes, with former Linnet Jamar Loza replacing the excellent Tyreke Johnson. That seemed to take a bit of the sting out of the game and the final half-hour played out a bit like the first half.

Loza had his moments though, and won a free kick in a dangerous position on the left-edge of the penalty box. But Pendlebury’s delivery missed everyone and floated harmlessly out for a goal kick.

King’s Lynn started to come back into the game and came close on 67 minutes. Josh Barret did well down the right and sent a dangerous low ball into the middle. It deflected off Craig Ross and Longe-King did brilliantly to clear it off the line.

Max Kretzschmar had run himself into the ground and was replaced by Tarryn Allarakhia on 68 minutes. He got a big ovation from the visiting fans as he made his way off the pitch. King’s Lynn then made their first change of the evening, with Munashe Sundire coming on for Brett McGavin.

The Linnets continued to probe but Allarakhia was proving to be a tricky customer when Woking broke. Loza won another corner after great work from the Cards’ number 17.

Then more good play from Loza created a shooting opportunity for Pendlebury. His shot was blocked but the rebound went straight to Effiong. With the Linnets defence appealing for offside, his powerful strike from a tight angle was saved by Jones.

Moments later, Clunan tested Ross with a volley from range, but it was comfortable for the Woking stopper.

Ken Charles replaced Malachi Linton for King’s Lynn before we saw a comical passage of play. Craig Ross had plenty of time to deal with a backpass but he sliced it wildly, so much so that it stayed in play. The ball was worked to Clunan who did his best to match the Woking keeper with a sliced shot, that just about went out for a goal-kick.

It was indicative of the match as a whole. A low-quality encounter between two sides desperately short of confidence and form.

And yet, Woking could still have won it. Inih Effiong showed again what a handful he can be, working the angle for the shot. In truth it was probably going over, but it took a nick off a defender and Woking had one final corner. As with the many set-pieces that had gone before, it came to nothing.

Pendlebury picked up a soft yellow card for a challenge on the edge of the King’s Lynn box, before there was one final chance for the home side to send a free kick into the Woking area. It was overhit, gathered comfortably by Ross, and the referee brought the game to a close.

The Cards head back to Surrey with a point. They could, and probably should, have had more. But it would have been harsh on King’s Lynn who created a few chances of their own. Woking will be pleased with the clean sheet. The back four were rarely troubled, with David Longe-King impressing. Tyreke Johnson and Inih Effiong were a constant thorn for the Linnets, and Cards fans will be delighted to see Max Kretzschmar back in the starting line-up. But this is a side that looks bereft of confidence. They’ll have another chance to get a long-awaited win when they host Maidenhead on Saturday.

Woking: 13 Craig Ross, 3 Josh Casey, 4 Tom Champion, 6 Moussa Diarra, 8 Solomon Nwaboukei, 9 Inih Effiong, 10 Max Kretzschmar (17 Allarakhia 68’), 11 Tyreke Johnson (7 Loza 62’), 18 Nicke Kabamba, 22 David Longe-King, 27 Oliver Pendlebury

Unused subs: 1 Mark Smith, 5 Joe McNerney, 14 George Oakley

Bookings: Pendlebury 90+2’

King’s Lynn 1 Paul Jones, 2 Luis Fernandez, 3 Tyler Denton, 16 Brett McGavin (18 Munashe Sundire 71’), 26 Cameron Hargreaves, 30 Josh Coulson, 8 Jak Hickman, 7 Michael Clunan, 9 Gold Omotayo, 14 Malachi Linton (19 Ken Charles 87’), 20 Josh Barrett

Unused subs: 6 Daniel Bowry, 17 Aaron Jones, 28 Zain Walker

Bookings: Denton 8’

Referee: Jacob Miles

Attendance: 703

Man of the Match: Inih Effiong – A tireless performance of power and skill.

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