Cards are dealt a losing hand

Slough Town

Slough Town

West (8, 86), Hercules (55)


Isthmian Lge Sub. Cup Attendance: 774 Barry Rake
Revenge is never sweeter than when its recipients are made to look totally ridiculous. the Rebels learnt that one last Saturday. Woking without Clive Walker, they found, is like cheese without crackers, turkey without stuffing or strawberries without cream; 11 meandering donkeys plodding and hacking their way aimlessly through 90 minutes.

A trip to Kettering on a winter Tuesday might not be the most enticing reward for their toils, but Slough can take greater pride in the way they so effectively dismantled everything their visitors hold dear - had Walker jumped ship to Wexham Park permanently a couple of weeks ago, Woking would be nothing.

That they are both potential cup giantkillers and league pacesetters - as well as 3-2 winners here last month - seems laughable on the back of a truly dismal performance.

The Rebels could have been ahead in the seventh minute when Cliff Hercules produced a mad scramble with a goalbound header; they took the lead from a simple corner routine a minute later, Mark Pye rising well above his marker and leaving Mark West to apply the finishing touch at the far post. Pye received the initial credit over the tannoy. but the number nine remonstrated with the press box and the mistake was immediately rectified.

And from there they didn't look back. Trevor Bunting had ample time to dream of sunnier climes as Neil Catlin stumbled his way round Batty and saw a plausible penalty appeal refuted and West had another effort denied by the taunted 'keeper's foot after Hercules had taken the ball on his chest and burst through into the box.

Woking pushed their defence as far forward as they dared, but they lacked the organisation to play any sort of offside trap, and though the hosts' back-line showed its characteristic wobbles on occasion, punishment never came.

Before half-time came, Catlin saw a far clearer penalty denied when Fielder hacked him down mercilessly from behind, and Barry Rake - who needs a little gentle coaxing to pull the trigger once he eels into the box - put one messily past the post from 15 yards.

The Cards were strewn all over the place by now, and Rake in particular revelled in it. His determination alone demands his inclusion in the team, but he is also a deceptively skilfull ball player in his own right. He stays on his feet at all times, and is perfectly capable of taking on and beating two or three players of Conference standard very easily indeed.

It was fitting then, that he won the corner that lead to the second on 55 minutes, when Hercules rose for a repeat of his headed Stalybridge goal on meeting Fiore's kick. He leapt not only above the defence, but the 'keeper's fist too. which takes some doing.

Woking were never going to do a Halifax, as the Rebels had by now learnt the secret of stifling opponents. By keeping the pressure firmly in the visitors' half, they kept the possession in their own and therefore the danger down to a minimum.

A simple tactic, but the shot count from the Surrey side was so dismally low it must have worked to some degree. There were enough chances for a couple more, and that would have been pleasing if not necessary in the end. What we got was a third goal on 86 minutes, when Pye casually rounded his man and played West well clear with the ball at his feet. Batty was well beaten as soon as he set off towards goal.

The only pity of it all was that this is the Spalding Cup and not the Vauxhall Conference - but the Cards will learn their lesson in the return league fixture, by which time the Rebels will have closed the points gap right up and be much closer to the top six.

Woking Lineup


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