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.
“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.