2-1

Gateshead 2
Woking 1

FIREWORKS were predicted on Tyneside – but this defeat was hardly a spectacle for Garry Hill to behold.

Gateshead were toppled 2-1 at Kingfield earlier this season thanks to goals from Jack Parkinson and Gavin McCallum.

But they got their revenge to end a run of 10 games without a win at the International Stadium on Saturday.

Parkinson’s opener was cancelled out by Josh Gillies’ driven effort and Liam Hatch’s precision header.

GOAL - Jack Parkinson scored for the Cards

GOAL – Jack Parkinson scored for the Cards

Hill had no excuses for his team’s lacklustre showing.

He said: “We knew it would be tough but we got the ideal start with an ideal goal but all of sudden they start to come out.

“They are probably the first team we’ve played this season where the level of fitness showed.

“They looked a little bit stronger, sharper and fitter than us and they had opportunities to completely bury the game which they didn’t take.

“We tried to change it but we can’t have any complaints – it was there day here and our day when we beat them at Kingfield.

“I’m disappointed not to take anything out of the game but if we had it would have been unjust on them.”

The fuse was lit in the opening two minutes when only successive goal line clearances from Adam Newton and Mike Cestor stopped the Heed starting with a bang.

But that scare sparked Woking into life and Parkinson confidently volleyed home Lee Sawyer’s precision cross to give Cards a sixth-minute lead.

The visitors dominated for much of the first-half but were pegged back in the 32nd minute when Gillies rifled past Aaron Howe.

Carl Magnay was stronger into a 50/50 challenge with Cestor and the ball broke for Lee Bullock.

The forward slipped in Gillies down the right and after storming into the area, ripped a low shot just inside the far post.

Gillies should have doubled his tally inside 60 seconds but headed Ryan Donaldson’s cross inches wide.

Donaldson was a thorn in Woking’s side all afternoon and was instrumental as Ian Bogie’s side took the lead right on half time.

The striker rolled in Bullock down the left who stood up a cross at the back stick for the unmarked Hatch.

With all the time in world the returning striker planted a header back across goal and past the stranded Howe.

Cards fizzled out after their restart and rarely pressured the Gateshead goal.

Substitute Nathan Fisher should have scored twice within three minutes of coming on but screwed wide with his first touch before firing harmlessly wide when played through by Gillies.

Howe saved well from Magnay’s header before the same player nodded wide from Paddy Boyle’s corner.

And the Woking keeper made an excellent save from Fisher in the final minute to stop Gateshead extending their lead.

Woking 2
Cambridge 1

GARRY HILL admits he had almost forgotten what it was like to watch his side score first in a football match.

Woking have made an impressive start to life back in the Blue Square Premier but have only scored first in four games prior to Cambridge United’s ­arrival at Kingfield on Tuesday.

So it was a refreshing change to see Bradley Bubb and Kevin Betsy put the Cards in the driving seat with a goal either side of half-time.

And despite a late barrage from the U’s, kick started by Robbie Wilmott’s powerful header, Hill’s battlers held on to pick up their sixth win of the season.

“It was nice to be in front,” said Hill in a brutal examination of his team’s previous displays. “We’re not used to that and we were a bit shell shocked.

KNOTT'S BAD LANDING - Billy Knott was forced off on Tuesday

KNOTT’S BAD LANDING – Billy Knott was forced off on Tuesday

“I knew there would be chances for both teams and it certainly was never going to be 0-0.

“We got the important first goal and that seemed to settle us down a bit and at 2-0 we fancied ourselves to go on and win the game.

“But all credit to Cambridge. They worked very hard and got a goal back from a set-play and in the last 20 ­minutes they have put us under ­immense pressure.

“It was a big three points and a big response and I’m very pleased.”

The Cards dominated the opening quarter of an hour with Betsy and Lee Sawyer working feverishly in the middle of the park to keep Cambridge on the back foot.

And it was no surprise that Cambridge’sJonathan Hedge was the busier of the two keepers in the opneing stages.

Jack Parkinson was first to test Hedge with a ­swerving drive which the keeper pushed away for a corner.

Michael Gash flashed a low shot just wide of the post in reply.

But it proved nothing more than a  light reposte as Hill’s men took the lead in the 19th minute.

Betsy weaved his magic in the penalty area to reach the byline and clip a cross to the back post to Bubb, who clinically pounced to head home the opener.

And Cards’ leading scorer had a glorious chance to bag his second of the night in the 27th minute.

But he completely mis-judged ­Gavin McCallum’s cross and somehow managed to get the ball stuck under his feet with the goal gaping. Goalkeeper Sam Beasant, son of former Wimbledon and Chelsea No.1 Dave, was handed his full Woking debut in place of the suspended Aaron Howe.

And the 24-year-old showed no lack of confidence when, after a couple of early catches, he coolly Cruyff-turned Robbie Wilmott as the Cambridge man closed down a clearance.

Cambridge almost caught Beasant out when Tom Elliott capitalised on the keeper’s rash decision to leave his area.

But Woking were indebted to the youngster  when he got his outstretched fingertips to Rossi Jarvis’ deflected strike from the edge of the area.

Cards looked electric on the counter and always looked the most likely to grab the game’s second goal.

But as half-time loomed and the first shreds of anxiety began to surface the visitors had the chance to even things up, only for Rory McAuley to head Daniel Andrew’s in-swinging corner wide.

Cards thought they had steadied the ship when Betsy slid a shot under Hedge on the hour.

New loan star Billy Knott, who only signed from Premier League ­giants Sunderland hours before kick off, slipped past Cambridge full-back Josh Coulson and pulled the ball back for Betsy to apply the finishing touch.

But five minutes after giving themselves a two-goal cushion Woking threatened to implode.

The lead was cut in the 65th minute when Wilmott was allowed to escape at the near post to thunder in Andrew’s corner.

And Woking were dealt a major blow when lively debutant Knott ­hobbled off with what initially looked to be quite a serious injury.

“Hopefully it’s not too bad with Billy,” said Hill. “He’s a good young player but we’ll have to take it easy and see where we can go from here.”

Deflated by the loss of midfielder Knott, Woking retreated on to the back foot as Cambridge sought an equaliser.

Sub Ricky Wellard thought he had earend the visitors a point when his deflected effort hit the post and ricocheted off the back of the Woking keeper ­before dribbling out for a corner.

Beasant added to his side’s apprehension when he spilled two teasing crosses in quick succession.

But Cards survived the onslaught to secure their first win in four and climb up to 10th ahead of Saturday’s meeting with Southport.

Stockport 1
Woking 2

GARRY HILL reckons Woking have shown their mettle after surviving their Blue Square Premier baptism.

Cards were dealt a daunting run of away fixtures to kick-off the campaign and failed to take a single point from any of their first four games on the road.

But defeats to Wrexham, Forest Green, Mansfield and Hereford were finally banished with a commanding victory over 10-man Stockport.

CLINCHER - Loick Pires fires in Woking's winner

CLINCHER – Loick Pires fires in Woking’s winner

“We were deserved winners,” said Hill. “No game is easy in this division so to come to Edgeley Park and beat Stockport is a great lift for the players.

“We’ve had a tough baptism to this league but I feel we’ve done better than results suggest. Even though we found ourselves behind we showed great desire to get back into it.”

Alex Kenyon gave County the perfect start with a headed goal inside 15 minutes.

But Gavin McCallum levelled things up with a mazy run and finish just nine minutes later.

Hill rolled the dice in the second-half and having already sacrificed Mark Ricketts for the more attack-minded Dean Sinclair, brought off McCallum and threw on Loick Pires.

And the change worked a treat as just two minutes after coming on, Pires cut in from the right and fired a low shot past Ian Ormson to give Cards the lead.

Honestly, I was relieved at the final whistle because I wanted it for the players

On the switch that acted as a catalyst for Woking’s first away win of the season, Hill said: “As a manager you’ve got to take responsibility and make the big decisions.

“I felt today that we could build on our first-half display and go on and win the game.

“Loick is a little bit low on confidence at the moment and is still raw at this level but he’ll be alright.

“He knows which part of his game he wants to improve and I have no doubt he’ll do just that.”

In contrast, Stockport’s second-half substitutions proved disastrous.

With his side chasing the game, Jim Gannon made a 77th-minute double switch, hauling off Sam Sheridan and Danny Rowe for Jon Nolan and Alex Meaney.

But just three minutes after coming on, 20-year-old Nolan was trudging back to the dressing room.

The midfielder was immediately cautioned for a tug on Kevin Betsy as the Cards threatened to break forward.

And he was given his marching orders moments later after flying in on Adam Doyle as he made a clearance down the line.

Woking had  two great chances to make the points safe through Betsy and Lee Sawyer.

But poor finishing meant Hill had to endure five tense minutes of time added on before breathing a huge sigh of relief.

Hill added: “Honestly, I was relieved at the final whistle because I wanted it for the players – they’ve worked very hard in our away games and not quite got their reward.

“Not winning can soon add up but we got the break and the points here which we totally deserved. It’s a very, very big three points for us.”

 

Hereford 2
Woking 1

GARRY HILL is suffering from an awful case of déjà vu as his trouble on the road shows no sign of slowing.

Cards fell to a fourth successive league defeat for the first time since February 2009 and are yet to collect a single point on their travels this season.

An early strike from Ashley Sammons and Sam Clucas’ curling effort just before half-time gave Hereford an unassailable lead at Edgar Street.

Kevin Betsy bundled home an 81st-minute consolation but it was the recurring manner in which Woking are shipping goals that is of most concern to their manager.

Woking have now conceded six goals in the final five minutes of either half in their first seven games.

CONSOLATION - Kevin Betsy scores Woking's goal

CONSOLATION – Kevin Betsy scores Woking’s goal

A frustrated Hill said: “We are giving a good account of ourselves but things aren’t quite going our way at the moment.

“We found ourselves 1-0 down early on – same old story. We gave a present away on the stroke of half-time – same old story.

“But we showed a lot of character for a side that is thin on numbers, we dug in deep and I’m disappointed with the end result.

“I thought we were worth half a loaf and deserved a point from the game.”

Cards were punished for a sloppy start when Sammons blasted Hereford into a 5th-minute lead.

Sean Canham showed great desire to hunt down Joe McNerney as he was about to clear.

The striker stole possession in Woking’s box, shifted on to his right and launched an effort at goal.

I couldn’t have had any player available tonight who could have given more commitment and more effort than what the lads showed in these second-half

The danger was only half cleared and Sammons, who pulled all the strings in a busy first 45, rifled a 25-yard effort into the bottom left corner.

Woking’s first real chance of the half arrived in the form of Jack Parkinson in the 30th minute.

Gavin McCallum’s whipped corner fell to the former Welling man inside the six-yard box and only a combination of keeper Dan Hanford, Stefan Stam and Harry Pell was able to stop the ball going over the line.

Two minutes later Loick Pires took a great opportunity off the toes of Lee Sawyer who was storming in to smash home Gavin McCallum’s low cross.

But as Woking’s presence in the game grew so did the influence of Sammons.

The midfielder’s disguised pass sent Ryan Bowman clean through but the striker failed to apply the finish to a wonderful move and clipped wide from just inside the area.

But, just as in previous away fixtures with Wrexham and Mansfield, Woking surrendered the vital second goal right on the verge of half-time.

Mike Cestor was the guilty party this week, dwelling on the ball in his own 18-yard box and inviting Clucas to steal possession.

The winger’s curling finish into the top corner was sublime, but Cestor’s criminal defending leaves Woking with it all to do in Saturday’s now must-win meeting with Nuneaton.

But despite being shorn of key personnel and with injuries taking their toll, Hill hinted that he will not be dipping into the loan market just yet.

The manager added:  “Where we are sitting at the moment is a little frustrating but I still believe that we’ll get to the 50 points we need and that we’ll be a conference club next year.

“We’re thin on bodies which is no secret but I couldn’t have had any player available tonight who could have given more commitment and more effort than what the lads showed in these second-half.”

On the hour Hill threw McNerney up front in an attempt to give Woking a presence in the final third.

Sawyer’s one-two with Betsy resulted in an effort that was tipped just wide by Hanford.

But the Bulls always looked a rampaging threat on the break and Pell could have extended their lead, only to steer a low cross into the side netting with Aaron Howe rooted.

McCallum stung the hands of Hanford and with nine minutes to play Woking dragged themselves back into contention from a corner.

McNerney’s header was well saved by Hanford, but the keeper could only parry the ball into the path of Betsy who bundled home from a yard out.

McCallum’s deflected effort forced a smart stop from the keeper as the game moved into the final minutes.

But it was Hereford who came closest to netting the fourth goal of game when substitute Tom Nichols struck the outside of the post.

ON THE GOAL TRAIL - Loick Pires now has two goals in two games for the Cards

ON THE GOAL TRAIL – Loick Pires now has two goals in two games for the Cards

GARRY HILL has stoked the fire ahead of the season curtain raiser and warned Wrexham: “We’ll be ready.”

Speaking after his side outgunned Aldershot 2-1 in their final pre-season friendly, Hill declared himself happy with the way preparations had concluded.

He said: “I expect every team in the Blue Square Premier to be competitive but we’ll be ready – I’m sure of that.”

I’m sure there will be a certain degree of excitement next Saturday at 3pm for sure

Defeat to minnows Windsor in July was quickly rectified with subsequent wins over Crawley and AFC Wimbledon, while a spirited display against a QPR select XI will have given the manager huge encouragement.

Cards were held to back-to-back 1-1 draws at Carshalton and Hornchurch, but goals from Loick Pires and Jack Parkinson ensured Woking’s pre-season ended on a high against the Shots.

Attention now turns to the opening day trip to the Racecourse Ground and Hill believes the Cards – who are still looking to bring in three more players before the start of the campaign – must adapt quickly or risk a harsh culture shock.

Hill added: “We know it’s going to be tough going up to Wrexham but we’ll look forward to it – it’s something we’ve been waiting for since we won promotion. I’m sure there will be a certain degree of excitement next Saturday at 3pm for sure.

“We’re level-headed at the club and I’ve always been quite reserved on things so the number one aim is to get 50 points – I think that gives you the first cushion to build with going forward.

“I think we are going to go to some places and get a rude awakening and we’re going to learn a certain amount as we go along in the league.

“The boys have worked hard and we’ll be at the level we need to be next week – we’ve just got to go through a few things to make sure we are ready for Saturday.”

Pires bagged his second goal in as many games to give Woking a third minute lead against old foes Aldershot.

Kevin Betsy’s deep corner was kept alive at the back post by Parkinson and in the resulting melee Pires was able to hammer home a loose clearance from close-range.

And it was Woking’s Welling-connection that helped double their lead midway through the second half.

Lee Sawyer’s deflected cross sparked confusion in the Aldershot area and Parkinson was alert to smash in from inside the six-yard box.

Shots pulled one back minutes later when Michael Rankine got on the end of Jordan Roberts’ in-swinging corner, but that was to conclude the afternoon’s scoring.

The goals may have stopped but the drama was far from over and after the break Sawyer was amazingly denied by the woodwork at both ends.

A long back pass eluded Aaron Howe and hit the upright before a controlled effort at the other end grazed the outside of Jordan Clement’s post.

Doug Bergqvist should have seen a late red for a tug on trialist Kurtis Guthrie with the striker clean through on goal but he escaped with a caution.

Tackles flew in from both teams but Woking came through the tussle unscathed, victory over the old enemy teeing them up perfectly for the clash with Wrexham.

BIG MAC - Joe McNerney towers over everyone to head home Woking's second

BIG MAC – Joe McNerney towers over everyone to head home Woking’s second

JOE McNERNEY gave Garry Hill some food for thought after thundering home the decisive second goal in Woking’s 2-1 win over AFC Wimbledon.

McNerney, on as a second half substitute, rose highest to head home Jesse Waller-Lassen’s corner to double his side’s advantage after Bradley Bubb’s 19th minute volley had given the hosts the lead.

Jack Midson reduced the deficit ten minutes from time after the Dons were awarded a controversial penalty.

But Woking were rarely threatened and eased their way to victory in a game that honoured the memory of former player and chairman Phil Ledger.

It was nice to be able to honour a real legend at the club with a performance like that

After the game Hill admitted an additional friendly with Hornchurch had been arranged to give every member of his squad the chance to prove their worth before the start of the season.

And McNerney, who faces stiff competition from Jack Parkinson, Brett Johnson and Adam Doyle to secure a place in the starting XI, confirmed he will keep working hard to force his way into the manager’s plans.

He said: “Hopefully the goal will stick in the gaffer’s mind but I’m sure he will be focusing on my performance at the back.

“There is competition in every position and everyone is looking to stake their claim.

“The extra friendly is another chance to impress but pre-season is all about fitness, no one is really worried about results yet.

“All the lads will want to get out there and make sure the impress they manager.

“We’ve got a strong core of players at the club now and the spirit in the dressing room is positive – everyone is getting on and working hard.”

McNerney also hailed the way his side outplayed and outclassed their Football League opponents.

He described the performance as a fitting way to celebrate Phil Ledger’s outstanding service to both Woking and AFC Wimbledon.

“I was actually really impressed with the way we played last night. We kept the ball well, played some good football and controlled the game.

“It was nice to be able to honour a real legend at the club with a performance like that and it’s brilliant that we could host the cup against a top team in AFC Wimbledon.”

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