Woking 2 Tamworth 3
Blue Square Premier
29th September 2012
It was definitely not a case of Lambs to the slaughter this afternoon at Kingfield as the Cards failed to build on their unbeaten four-game run. A disappointing first half saw them trail 0-2 at the break to a well-organised Tamworth side. However, despite a spirited and much improved second half when they could, and should have been back on level terms, they eventually succumbed by the odd goal in five.
Woking lined up in a 4-5-1 formation with Jay Davies, making his first league appearance of the season, coming into midfield as a straight swap for the suspended Lee Sawyer. The game got off to a scrappy start in front of an unusually quiet and subdued Kingfield crowd. With little pattern of play being established in the opening exchanges, Tamworth took the lead in the seventh minute with the first chance of the game. The referee indicated a corner kick to the visitors, much to the bemusement of the Woking players and many in the crowd. The ball was swung over to the far post where Lloyd Kerry knocked it into the path of striker Tommy Wright who converted from close range.
The early play saw the Cards struggling to impose themselves and string together the intricate passing moves, particularly in midfield, which has characterised much of their season to date. Despite the efforts of Jay Davies, it was soon clear that the side was missing the energy and artistry of Lee Sawyer and this seemed to be having a detrimental effect on the rest of the team. In an attempt to bring some life to the home team, Kevin Betsy (pictured) and Gavin McCallum swapped flanks but this made little discernible difference.
Tamworth extended their lead on 22 minutes. There seemed to be no danger as, what appeared to be, a harmless through ball was played behind the Woking back line. The impressive Tamworth striker Adam Cunnington had other ideas, however, and sprinted between a couple of static defenders to power the ball into the back of the net.
At this point, the Cards were struggling and could have been three behind had Peter Till not spurned a further opportunity for the Lambs. With the game meandering towards halftime, a huge decision then went against the Cards.
In the forty-third minute, Joe McNerney played the ball into the Tamworth penalty area. There was panic amongst the Tamworth defenders, which resulted in centre-back John Dempster clearly clawing the ball away from the goal line. Not only were the Woking players and crowd appealing for the penalty, the Tamworth players also seemed to stop in anticipation of a spot kick being awarded. Mr. Treleaven, the referee, had other ideas, however, and waved played on. One can only assume that he, and his assistant, were unsighted and did not have a clear view of the incident.
Overall, it had been a very poor first half for the Cards, who had been unable to put together any telling moves and had had only one shot on target. For all that, they might well have gone into the break only one behind had the penalty decision gone their way.
Half-time: Woking 0 Tamworth 2
It was a different Cards side that emerged at the start of the second half. To the constant exhortations of "move it" from Gary Hill on the touch line, the team appeared much more purposeful, playing with an urgency and fluency which had been absent in the opening forty-five minutes. Betsy and McCallum were now pushing forward and the hitherto composed Tamworth back-line now had to dig deep to protect their lead. Loick Pires replaced Jay Davies on 55 minutes and the change reaped immediate dividends. On 57 minutes, the burly forward broke clear and pulled back an excellent ball which the Tamworth 'keeper could only parry into the path of Kevin Betsy who slotted home from close range.
It was now all Woking as the noise level increased and the Cards faithful sensed an equaliser. That moment seemed to have arrived as Brett Johnson leapt to head a corner narrowly wide. A bizarre two minutes then ensued, which cruelly took the game away from the Cards.
On 60 minutes, a Gavin McCallum shot from close range seemed to have crossed the line, but with a number of the Woking players claiming the "goal”, play, probably correctly, was waved on. Immediately, the ball was skilfully and quickly moved up into the Woking penalty area and calmly dispatched into the back of the net by George Baldock.
This was a stunning blow for the Cards who had looked odds on to score an equaliser, and probably should have. To their credit, they continued to press forward and had the lion's share of the game in the final quarter. Loick Pires, in particular, looked eye-catching as a target man, showing a deft touch on the ball and always prepared to give one hundred per cent for the cause.
With time running out, two good chances to reduce the arrears fell to Mark Ricketts but he headed tamely over from an excellent Kevin Betsy cross and then screwed his shot wide after the 'keeper had dropped another Betsy cross. The Cards were not to be denied, however, and with the match deep into stoppage time Mike Cestor, on as a replacement for Adam Doyle, bundled the ball over the line from close range following a Joe McNerney free kick. Unfortunately, that was virtually the last kick of the game and everyone at Kingfield was left to muse over what might have been.
Overall, it could not be denied that, on the balance of play, Tamworth deserved their victory. It really was a game of two halves, however, for the Cards. The first half was probably their worst of the season but they came out for the second half in a much more determined frame of mind, no doubt with the words of Garry and Steve ringing in their ears, and produced some excellent football. Had the penalty decision gone their way at the end of the first half or had they scored an equaliser midway through the second half when they had seemed odds-on to do so, who knows what the outcome might have been. But as we all know, this game has always been a question of “ifs and buts”.
Woking: Aaron Howe, Adam Newton, Adam Doyle (Mike Cestor '77), Joe McNerney, Brett Johnson, Mark Ricketts, Jack Parkinson, Jay Davies (Loick Pires '55), Bradley Bubb (Brett Williams '77), Kevin Betsy, Gavin McCallum
Unused Subs: Sam Beasant, Dean Sinclair
Goals: Kevin Betsy ('57), Mike Cestor ('90+4)
Booked: Kevin Betsy ('50), Brett Johnson ('80), Brett Williams ('87)
Tamworth: Tony Breedon, Tom Marshall, Duane Courtney, John Dempster, George Baldock, Lloyd Kerry, Peter Till (Connor Gudger '81), Scott Barrow (Marcus Kelly '75), Adam Cunnington (Charlie Collins '89), Tommy Wright, Greg Taylor
Unused Subs: Sam Oji, Dale Belford
Goals: Tommy Wright ('7), Adam Cunnington ('22), George Baldock ('63)
Booked: George Baldock ('66), Greg Taylor ('72)
MOTM - Kevin Betsy, creative as always and the architect of most of Woking's best moments.