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UNPLAYABLE - Barrow could not handle Loick Pires

UNPLAYABLE – Barrow could not handle Loick Pires

Woking 3
Barrow 1

GARRY HILL praised the character of his determined Woking side as they battled from a goal down in a Kingfield furnace to see off Barrow.

The Cards showed great resilience in blistering temperatures to hit back after Garry Hunter’s placed strike had given the visitors a 15th-minute advantage.

Joe McNerney, promoted to free-kick duty in the absence of Giuseppe Sole, conjured a goal the injured striker would have been proud of to pull Woking level after 20 minutes.

We really took the initiative and showed them that we wanted to win this match – it was a big win today

And despite twice being saved by the woodwork, Cards never looked back, securing victory with second-half goals from Bradley Bubb and Loick Pires as Hill revelled in a second Kingfield triumph in five days.

And the delighted manager believes his side have what it takes to give anyone a run for their money this season.

He said: “We knew it was going to be a tough game but I think we showed a great deal of character.

“They were the better team in the first 20 minutes and they got the goal they deserved.

“They hit the post before that, the warning signs were there but I think the big thing in this league, which we’ve already started to show, is we’ve got character.

“I know the league, I’ve been in the game a long time and I’ve instilled into the players that they’ve got to have character, desire, passion and they’ve got to be winners.

“For periods in the second-half it was all one way, we really took the initiative and showed them that we wanted to win this match – it was a big win today.

“If we put our honesty and commitment into every game then we can make it hard for teams. You can’t have days when you fancy it and days when don’t at this level – you’ve got to be up for it every game.

“I think it’s a very good start but it’s no secret that we want 50 points. When we get to that 50 points I’ll punch the air because that will be the first hurdle.

“We play against clubs in this league that are far superior financially to us but they can only put 11 out on the park at once.

“If we are at it in respect of commitment and honesty then we’ll give anybody a game.”

In an electric opening period Woking had the chance to take the lead as early as the second minute.

Persistent pressure from Pires forced Danny Hurst into picking up Mike Pearson’s heavy back-pass inside the penalty area.

The keeper received a caution for his troubles and the Cards were awarded an indirect free-kick eight yards from goal.

Bubb failed to force Lee Sawyer’s lay-off through a wall of black and white shirts and the danger was eventually cleared.

Aaron Howe needed to be alert to keep out James Owen’s deflected shot from 18-yards, but there was nothing the Woking stopper could do to prevent Barrow taking the lead.

A sweeping surge forward resulted in Hunter curling an effort back off the foot of the post.

But within 30 seconds the lively midfielder did have the ball in the net, measuring a fine effort from the edge of the area past the static Howe.

Pires rattled a fierce drive against the near post after being released down the left channel by Brett Williams two minutes later.

And having only trailed for a matter of moments Woking released the Beast to drag themselves level.

Kevin Betsy’s marauding run was unfairly hacked short and, in the absence of Sole, McNerney stepped up to take set-piece responsibility.

What the defender produced would have received the seal of approval from Cards’ injured dead ball specialist.

From fully 25-yards, McNerney found the smallest of gaps in the wall, bending a stunning strike into the bottom left corner.

With the contest well and truly at its peak both teams had chances to take the lead before half-time.

Barrow went close with Sean Hessey’s thundering free-kick that flew just wide.

For Woking, Pires had a shot cleared off the line by the stretching Gavin Skelton following Williams’ smart pass.

But the woodwork had to come to the Cards’ rescue a second time when Adam Boyes’ masterfully crafted volley beat Howe.

Under the scorching sun the tempo took an understandable knock in the second-half.

But with Barrow flagging in the Kingfield furnace, Woking got their noses in front thanks to Bubb’s second goal in three games.

Pires, who led the line excellently from start to finish, was hauled to the ground down the left.

Sawyer stepped up to flight in a cross and it was on-loan Aldershot man Bubb who applied the vital touch to help the ball loop over Hurst and into the far corner.

Buoyed by the breakthrough, Cards chased a decisive third.

Brett Johnson did his best to turn an awkward header into the top corner but was denied by Hurst’s safe hands.

But Barrow would have been on an even keel if not for the timely block of substitute Gavin McCallum.

A quick free-kick found substitute Vinny Mukendi in a pocket of space at the back stick, but his close-range stab at an equaliser was foiled by the outstretched leg of McCallum.

It was fitting that Pires would seal the points after such a tireless, selfless shift.

Betsy picked the ball up in the middle of the park and surged forward on a trademark run.

His threaded pass was to perfection and after a neat touch and a moment to compose himself, Pires drilled home a 79th-minute clincher, much to the delight of his manager.

Hill added: “Loick has shown why we’ve fetched him into the club.

“He’s not the finished article just yet but he’ll get goals in this league if he is prepared to listen to Steve Thompson and myself.

“He’s a big unit, he’s mobile, he’s got a left-foot on him and I expect Loick to go and get 15-20 goals this season.

“He’s a good player but he can be better and he will be better.”

SCORCHER - Woking star Sole has his sights set on the Dragons

SCORCHER – Woking star Sole has his sights set on the Dragons

WOKING kick-off life back in the Blue Square Premier with a glamorous trip to promotion hopefuls Wrexham, but record-breaking striker Giuseppe Sole insists the only thing occupying his mind this summer is getting back on the goal trail.

Cards visit the Racecourse Ground on the opening day of the 2012-13 campaign (Saturday, August 11) before hosting play-off winners Dartford at Kingfield three days later.

But Sole, who finished top of the club’s goal scoring charts as Woking sealed a long-awaited return to the top-tier of non-league football last season, has revealed the Cards camp is firmly focused on their own preparations and making sure they are full equipped to slay the Dragons next month.

He said: “Steve Thompson was brilliant in last year’s pre-season. We worked hard and did a huge amount of running drills but we also did a lot of work with the ball – I can’t wait to get back into it.

“We want to hit the ground running and hopefully the friendlies we’ve got lined up against higher division opposition will prepare us for that.

Luton are favourites for the league and it will be a great experience to come up against them and see how we measure up

“We’ll all be looking to test ourselves against the best players out there and hopefully I can pull on my scoring boots ahead of the new season.

“Last season ended at the worst possible time for me but that’s the way football goes sometimes.

“But I’m more than happy with what I achieved with Woking last season and I’m looking to carry that forward into the first game with Wrexham.”

Wrexham were beaten play-off semi-finalists last term and Sole knows Woking will need adjust quickly to life in the Blue Square Premier if they are to build on last season’s success.

He added: “Wrexham are going to be one of the favourites and it’s going to be great to start the season against one of the big teams.

“They finished strongly last year and they’ll be up there again trying to win promotion but I’m really excited to be playing at a ground I’ve never played at before.

“Dartford at home in the second fixture will be an interesting one, they chased us all the way last season and they’ll want to get one over on us.

“I’m sure everyone will be just as hungry as we are to get off to a good start and it will be interesting to see what sort of side they’ve assembled over the summer.”

Stand out fixtures include a Boxing Day trip to Luton before the title favourites visit Kingfield on January 1 for an immediate return clash.

Sole reckons a bumper festive gate could leave Woking full of Christmas cheer.

He said: “I went to Luton with Newport a few years ago and they had a crowd of around 7,000 on a Tuesday night.

“God knows how many they’ll have there on Boxing Day and obviously at Kingfield on New Year’s day there’ll be another huge turnout.

“They are favourites for the league and it will be a great experience to come up against them and see how we measure up.”

The full fixture list is as follows:

August 2012
Sat 11           Wrexham  (a)
Tue 14          DARTFORD (h)
Sat 18           BARROW (h)
Sat 25          Forest Green Rovers (a)
Tue 28         BRAINTREE (h)

September 2012
Sat 1             Mansfield Town (a)
Tue 4           Hereford United (a)
Sat 8            NUNEATON (h)
Sat 15          Stockport County (a)
Sat 22         GATESHEAD (h)
Tue 25        Ebbsfleet United (a)
Sat 29         TAMWORTH (h)

October 2012
Sat 6            AFC Telford United (a)
Tue 9          CAMBRIDGE UNITED (h)
Sat 13         SOUTHPORT (h)
Sat 20        FA Cup  4th qualifying round tbc
Sat 27        Newport County (a)

November 2012
Tue 6        KIDDERMINSTER (h)
Sat 10      Grimsby Town (a)
Sat 17      ALFRETON TOWN (h)
Sat 24      FA Trophy 1st round tbc

December 2012
Sat 1             Hyde (a)
Tue 4           Lincoln City (a)
Sat 8            STOCKPORT COUNTY (h)
Sat 22         FOREST GREEN ROVERS (h)
Wed 26      Luton Town (a)
Sat 29         Braintree Town (a)

January 2013
Tue 1            LUTON (h)
Sat 5            MANSFIELD (h)
Sat 12          Barrow (a)
Sat 19          Gateshead (a)
Tue 22        NEWPORT COUNTY (h)
Sat 26         Kidderminster Harriers (a)

February 2013
Sat 2            HYDE (h)
Sat 9            Alfreton Town (a)
Tue 12        EBBSFLEET UNITED (h)
Sat 16         GRIMSBY TOWN  (h)
Sat 23         Southport (a)

March 2013
Sat 2           LINCOLN CITY (h)
Sat 9           Cambridge United (a)
Tue 12       Macclesfield Town (a)
Sat 16        AFC TELFORD UNITED (h)
Sat 23        Nuneaton Town (a)
Sat 30       HEREFORD UNITED (h)

April 2013
Mon 1         Dartford (a)
Sat 6           WREXHAM (h)
Sat 13         MACCLESFIELD TOWN (h)
Sat 20         Tamworth (a)