Full-time report as United lose at Cards
Oxford United were beaten for the first time in pre-season as a second-half goal from John Goddard earned Woking a 1-0 win this evening. The U's could have little argument with the result even if it is largely irrelevant at this stage of proceedings.
Woking, challengers at the top of the Conference last season, will cause plenty of teams problems at that level with Scott Rendell, Giuseppe Sole and Goddard a lively trio and Joe Jones forcing Sam Slocombe into an excellent save on 15 minutes when United’s new keeper flew to his left to tip a 20-yard effort round the post. That was perhaps the first serious save that Slocombe has made in pre-season so far but he has certainly impressed with his distribution and his organisational skills and tonight was forced to make three or four excellent saves.
At the other end Liam Sercombe’s fine cross on 18 almost produced an opener from the ever-energetic Alex MacDonald, arriving at the back post but unable to steer a bouncing ball on target but the three-man home defence looked very solid despite the U’s seeing plenty of the ball in front of them.
Woking’s main threat was often from left wing-back Chris Arthur, who tested Slocombe with a ferocious drive on 35 that was flying into the far corner until the keeper got fingertips to it with another very good save. However, it had been a fairly even first half and Ryan Taylor went close with a powerful header on 41 that went perhaps a foot over the bar, United's best effort of the night.
Slocombe made another good save from the lively Sole before the Cards dealt United their trump card on 56 with the only goal of the night. Jake Caprice scampered down the right wing and crossed for Rendell to touch on and Goddard to confidently place the ball past the exposed Slocombe at the back post to make it 1-0.
Johnny Mullins had a 70th-minute header from a corner cleared off the line but it took an astonishing one-handed save from Slocombe to somehow palm a shot from sub Alex Smith over the bar after 76 minutes as Woking continued to create the clearer chances.
Defeat then but another decent work out for United. There are things to work on, but games such as this are specifically designed to find those out. Next up is Eastleigh away on Saturday as pre-season continues to gather pace.
Slocombe, Baldock, Mullins, Wright, Skarz, Roofe, Collins, Sercombe, MacDonald (Humphreys 80), Hylton, Taylor (George 64)
Report by Chris Williams, pictures Darrell Fisher