ANOTHER ex-Cards came back to bite the hand that fed him yesterday, as Jack Parkinson’s first-half header took sorry Woking’s winless run to a seventh game.
Facing former players can go one of three ways: a warm or vitriolic reception from their former fans (depending on their exit – think Brett Williams!); or the seemingly inevitable goal against old team-mates.
Just as strikes from Kingfield ‘vets’ Moses Emmanuel and Jack Cunnington had bagged all three points for Bromley against their old gaffer Garry Hill last month, Parkinson’s 35th-minute flick header was enough to add to Woking’s recent woes.
Eastleigh’s Josh Payne and Yemi Odubade awaited Hill’s patched-up side on Tuesday night (see Back Page) before Cards are reacquainted with striker Dan Holman when he leads the line for league leaders Cheltenham Town this Saturday.
Upbeat but keen to manage expectations of his young side, Hill joked after defeat to Dover that he may need the elements to come to his aid during what looks a fierce week of fixtures for his out of sorts side.
He said: “It doesn’t get any easier by going to Eastleigh on Tuesday night and Cheltenham next Saturday. Hopefully we’ll get a bit of snow and they’ll call it off!”
Whether a spring cold snap comes to the Cards’ aid remains to be seen, but Hill’s keeper Jake Cole is certainly one man who, again, did more than his fair share to try and save this rollercoaster campaign from crashing once and for all.
Plucking the positives from a scrappy defeat, Hill had special praised reserved for Cole, whose defiant stint between the sticks in recent weeks has spared the blushes of the Cards’ nascent back four on numerous occasions.
Hill added: “In the first half they [Dover] were by far the better side and we were very fortunate to be only 1-0 behind at half time, Jake Cole’s made some very good saves. We hung in there, we battled hard [but] it’s seven games without a win and the boys are low on confidence.”
Stretched resources meant another youthful match day squad, which included a debut for forward Danny Car who arrives at Kingfield on loan from Cambridge United via a temporary posting at Aldershot Town over the New Year period – the 22-year-old lined-up for the Shots in both of Cards’ derby day wins this term.
Home bows were also handed to Ipswich Town academy captain Joe Robinson and Bournemouth’s Matt Butcher, who follows fellow Cherries prospect Joe Quigley up to Surrey from Dorset. Keen to protect his baby-faced assassins from undue criticism, Hill asked the despondent section of the Kingfield crowd to be realistic in their appraisal of a loss against Chris Kinnear’s seasoned National League operators Athletic – who enviably still sit within striking distance of the final play-off spots after these battling three points.
Hill explained: “Think of the team out there today: Joe Robinson from Ipswich is just 19; Joey Jones, 21; Cameron Norman, 19; Matt Butcher in the middle of midfield, 18; Joe Quigley up front, 19. We’ve got a lot of young boys who had to turn around and be men today.
“We played against a good team today: big and strong, very effective, don’t play much football, very good movement up top and they’re a tough team to play against. We weren’t disgraced.”
Chief among the schoolyard bullies were Kinnear’s two tricky Rickys: Miller and Modeste, who with fellow forward Stefan Payne, never gave Woking a moment of peace from the first blast of referee John Brooks’ whistle.
That the Whites took an early lead was not a total surprise, as it marked their dominance in the opening exchanges. However, that it was holding midfielder Parkinson who struck – curse of the ex-player aside – was partly perplexing for those in the Lesley Gosden Stand. One of a host of devilishly in-swinging Modeste dead balls found the top Parkinson’s head to send the ball looping past Cole.
While there was nothing the Cards stopper could do with the goal, a superb one-handed stop from Nicky Deverdics meant Woking had to find just the one goal after the break.
Sadly, despite a much-improved display from senior pro Keiran Murtagh and an injection of pace and enthusiasm from the bench in Giuseppe Sole and Jake Caprice, Woking were unable to level.
A home penalty shout went unheard as John Goddard was tripped, before he belatedly tested Mitchell Walker in the away goal with a shot on target, while a ricochet off Mark Ricketts dropped agonisingly the wrong side of the upright in the last action of another testing afternoon.