cards

WOKING were dealt a major blow late last night as it emerged that Giuseppe Sole will spend at least 12 months on the sidelines.

The Cards’ prolific striker seriously damaged his right knee in a challenge with Dartford’s Nathan Collier in the 1-0 win at Kingfield last month.

He will play no further start this season and will not feature again until the start of the 2013-14 campaign.

Devastated Sole told the Woking News & Mail: “It is a bit of shock as I was expecting to be out no longer than a month.

HAPPIER TIMES - Giuseppe Sole celebrates after Woking wrapped up the league title last season

HAPPIER TIMES – Giuseppe Sole celebrates after Woking wrapped up the league title last season

“But Stuart Douglas picked up on the injury and realised that it wasn’t healing as quickly it should have been. I went for a scan and obviously we got the bad news.

“I can’t really do anything now except stay positive and look forward to next season.”

Sole had been in light training just two weeks after hobbling off against Dartford, but experienced significant discomfort when trying to change direction.

A scan revealed the awkward collision had separated the lateral collateral ligament from the bone.

Specialists confirmed a simple procedure could repair the damage and surgery was booked in for Monday (September 10).

But Sole will require an additional operation after it was discovered that his anterior cruciate ligament had also suffered trauma.

The second operation will push back Sole’s return to action by three months.

Kingfield’s record-breaking cult-hero is doing all he can to stay positive.

He added: “Either way I was going to miss the rest of the season – nine months or 12 months, there’s not much difference when you’re out for that long.

“I’m trying to keep positive and I’ll find myself something to do – I’ll be watching a lot TV.

“But I’ll still be around the club on Saturdays supporting the team, 100 per cent.

“The reaction on Twitter has been fantastic and my phone has been going mad, I’ve had a lot of support from the fans”

He also paid great respect to the club who moved immediately to authorise the funding of treatment.

Sole said: “I just wanted to say a big thanks to the board, the chairman, Garry Hill, Steve Thompson and of course Stuart who haven’t cut any corners.

“I’m in for the operation on Monday and I only had the scan last Wednesday, they’ve really been on top of everything – I appreciate everything they’ve done for me.

“I’ve spoken to the gaffer but there’s not much to be said, that’s just football and that’s life sometimes.”

 

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.

CLOSE - Gavin McCallum hit the bar

CLOSE – Gavin McCallum hit the post

Mansfield 3
Woking 1

WOKING had no answer to non-league’s Rory Delap as the Stags left the Cards high and dry at Field Mill.

Deadline-day signing Exodus Geohaghon and his prolific long throws caused the damage as goals from Louis Briscoe and Matt Rhead gave Mansfield a two-goal cushion at the break.

Woking hit back six minutes from time through Joe McNerney to set up a grandstand finish.

But substitutes Nick Wright and Jake Speight combined in time added on to seal the points and consign Garry Hill to a third straight defeat.

And the manager admits Mansfield’s timely acquisition of Geohaghon had a huge bearing on the course of this goalfest.

Hill said: “We were very unlucky not to get a share of the spoils – the scoreline has flattered them.

“I think apart from the long throw, which acted as a great weapon for them, we bossed the game.

“It’s a throw which everyone has to deal with so I won’t make excuses but if he had signed a day later it might have been handy.

“We go away disappointed with the result but not with the performance, we were upbeat and very creative.

“What’s important now is to get out of this rut, if we get in a bit of a rut confidence can get low but that wasn’t the case against Mansfield.

“It doesn’t help us but anybody who watched the game will say we were unlucky, with the chances we created, not to get a point.

“We aren’t getting that little bit of luck at the minute and everything seems to be going against us but I’m sure in time it will start to go our way.”

Cards were by no means outplayed by their hotly-favoured hosts but what Woking lacked in the final third Mansfield possessed in abundance.

A self-assured conviction in front of goal served the Stags well and they took the lead in the 10th minute.

Woking failed to deal with Geohaghon’s laser-guided missile of a throw and Briscoe was allowed to drill a low shot past Aaron Howe from inside the area.

Cards were neat and tidy in position and, after being handed a place in the starting line-up, Gavin McCallum rewarded his manager’s faith with a series of penetrating runs.

But Woking were blunt in the final third and rarely threatened Alan Marriott in the Mansfield goal.

Luke Jones blazed over from inside the six-yard box as Geohaghon’s bullet throws continued to cause the visitors problems.

After setting up the opener Geohaghon almost got himself on the score sheet with a powerful left-foot volley that was cleared off the line by Kevin Betsy.

McNerney’s curling free-kick and McCallum’s 35-yard effort drew saves from Marriott, but it was Mansfield who made the most of their chances, doubling their lead with the final kick of the half.

Cards looked to be springing a counter attack when McCallum lost possession to Colin Daniel deep inside his own half.

The defender found Matt Green whose slide rule pass tripped the Woking offside trap releasing Rhead to coolly prod home a second.

Reflecting on what proved to be a huge moment in an otherwise even contest, Hill admitted his players need to cut out the mistakes in an unforgiving division.

He said: “We got punished when it looked like we were on the breakaway.

“We had players breaking out of the box but we gave the ball away cheaply, they slipped the ball in behind us and we got punished.

“That’s the difference at this level, a bad pass can be very costly whereas in the Conference South, we might have been able to get away with it.

“I thought in the second-half we bossed it but it wasn’t meant to be.”

McCallum came close to making amends for his earlier error when he hit the inside of the post – only the faintest of touches from Marriott denied the winger.

Howe spread himself brilliantly to keep out Briscoe after the forward had bundled through a cluster of Woking players.

Marriott got a strong hand to Jack Parkinson’s swerving free-kick but watched thankfully as Brett Williams sent the rebound into the side netting.

Cards dragged themselves to within one goal of a dramatic turnaround when Lee Sawyer’s scooped pass was converted from a narrow angle by McNerney.

But with Woking pressing for an equaliser Mansfield were able to break and secure the points through Speight’s powerful shot.

FEELING GREEN - Mark Ricketts and Woking slide to a 3-1 defeat

FEELING GREEN – Mark Ricketts and Woking slide to a 3-1 defeat

Forest Green 3
Woking 1

GARRY HILL was left reeling after a stoppage time poacher’s double from Forest Green’s Matt Taylor denied the Cards a first point on their travels.

Forest Green gave a beleaguered Woking a second-half battering after Kevin Betsy had given the visitors the lead with a first-half penalty.

And the Cards looked to be escaping The New Lawn with a positive result despite Magno Vieira squaring things up with a close-range finish in the 62nd-minute.

But the resistance was shattered in the cruellest of fashions and with just seconds remaining super-sub Taylor netted twice in time added on to give the hosts all three points.

A disappointed Hill described Taylor’s double strike as a moment of madness.

He said: “We haven’t had a bad start with six points out of twelve but it’s disappointing when you think you have a point in the bag.

“Injury time is a time to slow the game down and make sure everyone clears their head and takes responsibility.

“But we haven’t done that and that is what hurts me – we’ve worked hard but that gap in part-time and full-time started to tell on us at the end.

“I think that a neutral watching the game today would say that apart from the last five or 10 minutes that was nothing between the two teams.

“We said it would be important in the second half not to conceded – I thought we gave the ball away cheaply at times and we got punished.

“It’s disappointing to lose a game in injury time – it was a mad minute.”

Woking made all the early running and promised much with early attempts from Bradley Bubb and Betsy.

But despite moving the ball around wonderfully well on the deck it was the route one option that first seriously opened up the Forest Green defence.

Aaron Howe punted a huge kick forward but Bubb was hesitant in the area as the ball sailed over everyone else’s head and Sam Russell was allowed to punch clear.

Lee Sawyer then took the wrong option on the edge of the area and fired well wide when Loick Pires was better placed to his right.

Rovers were content to look after the ball deep in their own half but failed to carve out any chances of their own even with the persistent efforts of lightning-quick James Norwood down the flanks.

Kevin Betsy should have tested Russell after a 50-50 between Jack Parkinson and Jamie Collins released the forward and at the other end James Rowe tried his luck from long range.

A drab game finally burst into life in the 34th-minute.

Reece Styche combined with Rowe and Norwood to spring Woking’s offside trap only to see Mike Cestor steer a dangerous cross out for a corner at the back post.

Mark Ricketts almost found the back of the net a minute later with a driven 35-yard strike but the effort lacked the required dip and whistled just over the bar.

Only the fingertips of Howe kept the scores level as he turned Jamie Turley’s bullet header over the bar.

But the best chance of the half fell to the Cards and in-form striker Pires.

Betsy threaded the striker through down the right channel but the forward fluffed his lines, skewing a right-foot shot wide of the mark.

But Betsy spared his team-mates blushes, showing great composure to slot home a 42nd-minute penalty after Pires was bundled to the ground by Jamie Turley as he attacked Sawyer’s hanging cross.

Forest Green started the second-half brightly and fired off an early warning when Styche turned Ed Asafu-Adjaye’s cross round the post.

Substitute Kieron Forbes drew a save from Howe but Cards were not without chances of their own, Joe McNerney coming so close to producing a carbon copy of his stunning free-kick against Barrow last week in the 50th-minute.

But with Rovers shifting through the gears, Woking failed to exploit a handful of counter-attack opportunities as the game became more and more stretched.

Howe made an excellent one-handed save from Magno Vieira after Styche’s high cross fell to him in the area.

Vieira had the last laugh, however, as he helped Collins’ header over the line from a 61st-minute Forest Green corner.

With the rain hammering down Woking defenders stood like statues as another Collins’ header caused problems in the area, this knock-down ricocheting around the six-yard box before Adam Newton eventually cleared.

Newton was then forced to head Turley’s cross wide for a corner but not before Norwood drilled across the goal and wide from just inside the area.

Woking never got to grips with the second-half tempo and their frustration was summed up when Sawyer was cautioned for a cynical swipe at the legs of Norwood as the striker bore down on Woking’s defence.

Brett Johnson joined him in the book when he was adjudged to have illegally stopped substitute Phil Marsh, but Rowe failed to test Howe from the free-kick.

Despite the onslaught it looked as though Woking had done enough to earn a point.

But Taylor broke Woking hearts in stoppage time, two goals in as many minutes turning a hard-fought first away point into a painful defeat.

First the striker was well positioned to prod home Marsh’s cross and immediately after the restart he arrived at the back-post to slide home Norwood’ s measured square-ball.

 

FOCUS - Loick Pires is determined to build on his latest performance

FOCUS – Loick Pires is determined to build on his latest performance

LOICK PIRES is keeping his feet firmly on the ground after running Barrow ragged on Saturday.

Cards’ level-headed hit-man turned in the performance of the season as Woking crushed the Cumbrian’s 3-1 at Kingfield.

Pires drilled home a decisive third in 79th-minute as Garry Hill’s men battled back from a goal down to make it six points from a possible nine this season.

And despite rave reviews from his manager and fans alike, Pires refused to get caught up in the hype, instead focusing only on Saturday’s game with Forest Green Rovers and the chance of another three points.

If the manager believes in a player then they are already halfway there

After netting his first competitive goal for the Cards, the forward said: “It’s always good to get off the mark as I striker – scoring goals is what we are bought to do and I felt good against Barrow.

“It was a massive relief on my part but now I can look forward to the next game and try to build on that.

“It was always going to be a battle with the heat but I finally showed what I can really do.

“In the first two games I was a bit quiet by my own standards but things started happening for me on Saturday and I was pleased to get the three points.

“As a young player I’m looking for consistency and to try and improve in every game.

“I know what football is like – there are games when we all look good, but then there are some days when that might not happen.

“The minimum you’ll get is hard work and determination from me and my team-mates.”

His bullish performance, coupled with a result that lifts Woking up to seventh in the table, had Hill swooning come full-time.

In his post-match interview the Kingfield boss backed Pires to bag a minimum of 15 league goals this term, a prediction that did not faze the striker.

Pires said: “If the manager believes in a player then they are already halfway there.

“I know what I can do, the manager knows what I can do and it’s up to me to play my part in the team.

“If I get 10, 15, 20 goals then great but I’m not putting too much pressure on myself.

“My main focus is to contribute to the team in order for us to get where we want to be.”

Pires revealed the Woking dressing room was oozing with confidence after a superb start to the season and that there was no chance the Cards would settle for just a point in their next fixture.

He added: “We go into every game wanting to win, we are an ambitious team and an ambitious football club.

“There isn’t a team in this league that we’ll sit back against and try to consolidate for a draw.

“Once it’s eleven vs. eleven we know we can beat anyone on our day.

“I think you can see with the signings the gaffer has made that although we want to be solid defensively, we want to show what we can do in attack.

“I think that was reflected particularly in the second-half against Barrow.”

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.”

BRAWL - a fan was ejected from the stadium after entering the pitch

BRAWL – a fan was ejected from the stadium after entering the pitch

Woking 1
Dartford 0

THOUGH he refused to admit it, Garry Hill will be mightily relieved to have escaped this feisty encounter with all three points.

It took a Giuseppe Sole penalty eight minutes from the end to separate ­Woking and old Blue Square South adversaries Dartford at Kingfield.

And even that came from a foul on Loick Pires that looked to be more outside the box than in.

But the late drama of the winner does not even begin to scratch the surface of a fixture teeming with chaos.

Add to the mix the fact Dartford were reduced to 10 men when Lee Noble was dismissed midway through the first-half.

Not that Hill was expecting anything less than a brutal examination from a Darts side that tirelessly chased the Cards for so much of last season.

He said: “There are no games in this league where you can turn around and expect to win.

“What you can expect, whether it is home or away, every game you play is going to be hard.

“Dartford certainly had the upperhand in the first 20 minutes and we knew they were going to be a tough, competitive team.

“We knew that it would be hard – even more so as we were both beaten on Saturday.

“One goal was always going to win it and that’s the dividing line.

“But we got the breaks and I don’t think there is a better man under pressure in a penalty situation than
Gez Sole.

“I’ve said it before, it doesn’t matter who you play, every game in this league is going to be tough – it was a big three points.”

Woking looked all at sea in a woeful opening half-hour as they failed to create any chances of note against a solid looking Darts backline.

At the  other end, the visitor’s decision to go with two target men up front gave them the early edge.

A sliced clearance over his own crossbar was the only way Joe McNerney could relieve the pressure caused by Adam Green’s dangerous ball across the face of goal.

The subdued Pires was hacked to the ground twice in the opening 15 minutes but it was Dartford who were benefitting from Woking’s set-pieces.

Noble was allowed to break from deep inside his own half and threaded a pass to Jacob Erskine down the right channel.

The lumbering forward had the beating of Brett Johnson, but Aaron Howe was more than equal to his tame shot at the near post.

Bradley Bubb eventually tested Louis Wells in the Dartford goal on the half-hour mark, jinking into the area before drawing a smart save.

But it was five minutes of madness from dangerman Noble that turned the tide and handed Woking the initiative.

After scything down Kevin Betsy on the edge of the area, the Dartford midfielder then arrived late on Mike Cestor and was duly dismissed by  referee Dean Treleaven.

On the sending off, Hill said: “It was a big decision but it was the right ­decision – both fouls were bookable ­offences.

“Dartford know they can have no complaints and the boy knows he can have no complaints. He had a mad five minutes where he lost it.”

The dynamic of the match shifted and Woking ended the half in the ascendancy.

Bang on half-time Lee Sawyer travelled almost 50 yards before releasing a shot straight at Wells.

And a minute into stoppage time, on-loan forward Brett Williams produced a gut-busting run of his own before releasing a shot at the keeper.

A reluctance to recycle possession stifled Woking’s progress at start of the second-half.

But when Sawyer’s corner was headed clear by Jacob Erskine, Adam Newton controlled the ball on his chest and unleashed a swerving strike that seemed destined for the top corner until the fingertips of Wells intervened.

Bubb was lucky to see Danny Harris toe-poke well over from a narrow angle after the Woking winger surrendered possession in his own box with an hour played.

And with 23 minutes left on the clock Hill rolled the dice, hauling off Bubb and throwing on last season’s top
goalscorer Sole.

As the game moved into the final 10 minutes, Sole stepped up to demonstrate why a player of his calibre should not be warming the bench.

Pires latched on to McNerney’s incisive long throw and was pulled to the ground as he surged into the area.

The linesman raised his flag and the referee pointed to the spot, although it looked as if Pires had been fouled
outside the box.

Dartford players disputed the decision, none more so than Wells, who picked up a caution for moving the ball from the spot as Sole readied himself.

Unfazed, the classy forward sent the keeper the wrong way, slotting the penalty into the bottom left corner.

But there was more chaos for officials to address after the goal as Wells and Sole squared up before dragging a melee of players into the advertising hoardings.

One fan, who entered the pitch, was ejected from the stadium and play finally resumed.

One sour note was the sight of match-winner Sole hobbling out of the ground on crutches.

Hill will be praying his star forward makes a speedy recovery.

Wrexham 3
Woking 1

GARRY HILL reckons it could have all been so different for Woking as the Cards took their first tentative steps back into the Blue Square Premier.

Woking looked to be crumbling in the heat of the Racecourse Ground and trailed to first-half goals from Rob Ogleby and Dean Keates.

But invigorated after the break thanks to the introduction of Bradley Bubb and Giuseppe Sole, Cards hit back and reduced the deficit in the 65th minute when Bubb slotted past Joslain Mayebi.

Kevin Betsy saw a diving header flapped off the line moments later before Mark Creighton’s powerful header 15 minutes from time killed off the visitors’ hopes.

We were a little bit nervous in places which I understand with it being the first game of the season

And Hill believes Betsy’s miss was the turning point, insisting Woking’s momentum at the time could have turned the opening day fixture on its head.

The manager said: “We had a chat at half-time and the thing we wanted most was a response – I said if we can get a goal early in the second-half how will Wrexham react?

“We got the goal we wanted and we were much better in the second-half, we started playing football and there was a big turning point in the match at 2-1. We were certainly on top for a 10 minute period.

“Giuseppe Sole has put in a fantastic cross and Kevin Betsy has hit the target but – whether he got a clean connection with it – the keeper has stopped it.

“Within five minutes of when it should have been 2-2 and us being in the ascendency we’ve been punished and it’s 3-1. It was a big five minutes in the game.

“It would have been interesting to see how the game would have gone with the momentum with us. We’ll learn lessons as we go through the fixtures but I’ve got no complaints at the final whistle.”

The Cards reeked of opening night nerves and their hesitancy and lack of conviction in the final third only acted as encouragement to the promotion candidates and their 4,000 strong support.

Joe McNerney was caught napping as early as the 11th minute by Ogleby, and was lucky to escape punishment when Danny Wright sent his turn and shot just wide from the edge of the area.

Wright – whose aerial presence caused Woking’s back-line all types of trouble in a shaky first-half – was at the heart of Wrexham’s next assault, but Ogleby contrived to send his defence splitting pass into the side netting.

But the U21 Welsh international made amends just 90 seconds later and fired the Dragons into an 18th minute advantage.

Neil Ashton was left in acres of space down the left and was allowed to cross. Ogleby held off his man to steer a wonderful volley over Aaron Howe and into the Woking goal.

The classy finish highlighted the gulf between the two sides in the opening period and only a timely block from Brett Johnson denied Jay Harris a clear cut chance moments later.

It was not until the 32nd minute that Woking registered their first strike at goal – Kevin Betsy earning a corner with a fierce shot but the visitors remained void of inspiration in a flat first-half.

And with time ticking away Wrexham doubled their lead with a goal that twinned their obvious craft with their underlying graft.

Ormerod exchanged passes with skipper Keates before sending a searching low cross into a congested six-yard box.

Ogleby’s attempted volley was blocked in the melee, but Keates had continued his run and was ideally placed to rifle across Howe and into the bottom corner.

Hill added: “It’s a big blow for us to concede on half-time.

“As a manager you hope your side can get out there and settle into the game but I think we showed them a little bit too much respect.

“We were a little bit nervous in places which I understand with it being the first game of the season. They got an early goal and that settled them in front of the home crowd and we were hoping to get in at half-time 1-0.

“I thought if we can get in at half-time at 1-0 we’d have a lot to play for after the break.

“It was a big goal at a big time in the game and Wrexham probably went in thinking they’d go on to win it comfortably.”

But reinvigorated after the interval, the Cards came out swinging.

Gavin McCallum snapped a shot high over the bar, while substitute Bubb flashed a header just wide from Mike Cestor’s whipped cross.

And it was Wrexham’s hesitancy that gave Woking a life-line.

A mistimed header sparked confusion between Joslain Mayebi and the rest of his static defence and Bubb – on the pitch for a matter of minutes – slotted the ball under the on-rushing keeper.

Betsy should have buried Sole’s inch-perfect cross six minutes later but his diving header was just kept out by Mayebi.

And his profligacy was punished within moments as a man nicknamed the Beast roared in at the back post to restore Wrexham’s two goal cushion.

Mark Creighton was left unmarked in the penalty area and did not need a second invitation to thunder home a simple corner.

Adrian Cieslewicz came off the bench and almost added a fourth for the hosts, but the Polish winger struck the woodwork after rounding Howe.

It was far from the roasting a newly promoted side may have been given on entering the Dragons’ den on the opening day, but Woking will be looking to come back strong and get their first points on the board when Dartford visit Kingfield on Tuesday.

 

POTENTIAL - Hill has secured the services of Brett Williams on loan

POTENTIAL – Hill has secured the services of Brett Williams on loan

GARRY HILL has snapped up nomadic midfielder Dean Sinclair just a day after announcing that Reading forward Brett Williams had joined the club on loan.

Sinclair will get a crack at the Blue Square Premier after impressing Hill and assistant Steve Thompson during his trial at Kingfield.

The versatile 27-year-old started his career with Norwich before going on to score 19 goals in 125 appearances for Barnet.

He secured a switch to Charlton in 2007 but spent much of his four year stay at the Valley on loan at either Cheltenham or Grimsby.

Sinclair dropped into non-league football with Arlesey Town in 2011 but was picked up by Hayes & Yeading and then Lowestoft Town before Hill offered him the chance to make his mark at Kingfield.

The Cards chief also adds hot propspect Williams to his attacking arsenal after finalising a long-term loan deal for the striker.

Williams – who led the line in the 2-1 win over Aldershot on Saturday – came through the ranks at Eastleigh before sealing a switch to the Madjeski in January 2011.

He found the net twice whilst on loan with Rotherham last season before finishing the campaign with three goals in 18 appearances for League Two Northampton.

Reaction to follow

ON YOUR MARKS - skipper Mark Ricketts is desperate to make up for lost time

ON YOUR MARKS – skipper Mark Ricketts is desperate to make up for lost time

MARK RICKETTS has vowed to become Captain Fantastic as he bids to put last season’s nightmare behind him.

Cards’ no-nonsense leader has been waiting patiently for his return to first team action for nearly eight months.
During his absence Woking have celebrated a return to the Blue Square Premier and basked in the glory of a Surrey Senior Cup final triumph.

And though the skipper remained a prominent figure around the club, watching from the sidelines has left the captain craving a return to the limelight.

With the start of the new season just days away, Ricketts says the frustration of missing so much of last season will drive him forward into the new campaign.

Missing so much of last season definitely fuels me going into the new campaign. I’ve been really excited about every pre-season game so far

He said: “I’ve been away quite a while and I’ll be doing all I can to make sure Woking have a good season – I hope I can be Captain Fantastic.”

Speaking to the Woking News & Mail, Ricketts said that time away fro football had reignited his love for the game.

He reckons the manager has done a tremendous job nursing “an excitable kid” back up to full-fitness, and said he  is looking forward to getting back into the heart of Woking’s engine room.

He said: “I feel good and I feel like I’m at 100 per cent now.

“The gaffer has been careful with the amount of minutes I’ve been playing in games and built it up gradually.

“I’ve felt good in every game I’ve played and post match I’ve felt fresh which is very positive.

“Missing so much of last season definitely fuels me going into the new campaign. I’ve been really excited about every pre-season game so far.

“It’s been like playing football as a kid again. I’m excited for every game anyway but even more so this pre-season – I’m just so happy to be out there and kicking a ball about.

“I have been doing a lot of extra work in my own time to try to get back to max fitness and I want to make sure we achieve something as a club next season.”

Garry Hill has bolstered his rearguard in a bid to make Woking’s defence impenetrable next term.

Ricketts will anchor the midfield infront of new-recruits Brett Johnson and Jack Parkinson – two players the captain believes will play a vital role against the Dragons.

“I’m really looking forward to see how we cope in the league above. The team is taking shape really well which is nice and the strength we have in the squad at the moment is another reason to be excited.

“Brett has come in and done fantastically well, he’s been a great signing for the club as has Jack. They’ve both looked incredibley solid and adding to that is Joe and Doylie who are top-draw centre-halves.

“In those areas we are really strong and, depending on what formation we play next season, I think we’ve got a great core to build around and provide the foundations for when we break forward and go on the attack.

“I like playing in the hole, breaking up play and trying to get the ball rolling again so we can break – that’s an important job.

“All over the world you see players in that role especially when a team plays three in the centre of the park.” And though avoiding relegation remains the club’s top priority, Ricketts is adamant Woking are not just there to make up the numbers.

He firmly believes Hill’s new-look Cards can upset the odds and challenged his team mates to help him banish the personal pain of last season and achieve something truly memorable.

“I want to win something. It would be nice to come away with something next season be it a trophy or a major finish – something big to make up for missing such a large chunk of last season.

“We know it’s going to be a very tough league but we’ll be giving it everything week in, week out.

“There are a lot of top players out there and clubs with bigger budgets than us.

“But the squad the gaffer has put together so far is brilliant and hopefully we can really compete and cause a bit of a surprise.”