Woking 3 Eastleigh 3
Vanarama National League
1 October 2016
Another rousing second-half performance saw the Cards claw back a valuable point after going behind in the 7th minute to a Luke Coulson goal, which Matt Tubbs, making his debut after his midweek loan signing, cancelled out with a deft header on 23 minutes. More poor defending, however, saw the Spitfires add further goals in the 29th and 45th minutes through Adam Dugdale and Joe Partington. Delano Sam-Yorke reduced the deficit in the 59th minute, with substitute Luke Kandi equalising in the 79th minute. In a thrilling finale either side could have claimed all three points but an animated Garry Hill was clearly delighted with his side’s stirring comeback.
The Cards were missing Jake Caprice and Gozie Ugwu through injury, Nathan Ralph through suspension and Connor Essam as a condition of his loan from the Spitfires. The two midweek signings, Tubbs and Frankie Sutherland, both claimed starting places, with only four substitutes on the bench. Ismail Yakubu, Joey Jones and Brian Saah formed the central three at the back, while the midfield five comprised Dennon Lewis, Sutherland, Keiran Murtagh, Charlie Carter and Fabio Saraiva, with Sam-Yorke and Tubbs up front.
Eastleigh started on the front foot, aided by some loose possession from the Cards. A panicky clearance from Carter, who otherwise had a fine first half, led to an attack down Woking’s right. As the cross came over, Coulson, unmarked, arrived at the far post to slot the ball past Michael Poke to make it 0-1 with only seven minutes gone.
The Cards continued to look shaky at the back as two more crosses were fired in, one just too high for Mikhael Mandron to direct his header. But Lewis began to threaten on Woking’s right, and Saraiva, Carter and Sam-Yorke combined well, with Carter’s blocked shot falling nicely for keeper Clarke. The last-named then needed two attempts to grasp a Jones header, from a Murtagh free-kick, which hung in the air at the far post.
On 23 minutes Tubbs showed all his striking instincts to position himself cleverly between huge defenders to guide a deft header off the far post and into the back of the net to make it 1-1.
Another fine move a minute later, involving Carter and Saraiva, saw Sam-Yorke guide a cross just wide. But the Cards were soon undone by more lax defending. A free-kick was messily defended in the box, with Dugdale getting behind Yakubu to lift the ball over Poke to make it 1-2 on 29 minutes.
The Cards’ defence continued to look vulnerable as James Constable ran clear on the right, planting the ball beyond the far post, and Coulson charged through the middle, leaving Jones in his wake, while a loose ball from Sutherland nearly proved costly. At the other end Tubbs slipped a cute ball through to Sam-Yorke, who was crowded out, and Lewis and Jones worked well to fashion a half-chance for the big Woking striker.
Just when the emphasis needed to be on getting to half-time only a goal down, more poor defending enabled the Spitfires to extend their lead. Partington looked unchallenged as he directed a near-post header past Poke from a corner.
Half-time: Woking 1 Eastleigh 3
A quiet opening ten minutes gave little hint of the drama to follow. The arrival of Anthony Edgar for Sutherland, who had nevertheless worked hard, injected urgency and vitality into Woking’s offensive play, which was aided too by Jones moving forward. Only three minutes later, in the 59th minute, Sam-Yorke glanced a Saraiva free-kick just inside Clarke’s post: it was not clear who was more surprised to see the ball nestling in the net.
With a vocal crowd urging the Cards on, Garry Hill’s side went all-out for an equaliser. Sam-Yorke did well to get down the by-line. His dinked cross nearly crept in at Clarke’s far post but Edgar kept it in play, with Carter’s header from Saraiva’s cross being clutched by the keeper. Two minutes later a Murtagh break unluckily came to nought as his pass inside was intercepted. Edgar then tore forward but his tantalising crossfield ball just eluded his team mates.
Saraiva tried from distance but shot well over, while Jones was foiled by Clarke after an astute Tubbs’ lay-off had given him sight of the Spitfires’ goal.
In what proved to be an inspired substitution Garry Hill brought on Luke Kandi for Carter in the 73rd minute. But Eastleigh came close to spoiling the Cards’ revival as a quick break was nullified only by a fine save by Poke, with Murtagh clearing off the line.
On 78 minutes Max Kretzschmar came on for Yakubu and immediately played a key role in Woking’s equaliser, playing the ball wide to Tubbs, who provided a perfectly-judged ball for the arriving Kandi just beyond the far post. Kandi still had a lot to do but, from a tight angle, fired superbly into the far side of Clarke’s goal.
In an enthralling finale, the visitors nearly grabbed the lead again as a header was blocked and then hacked away to safety. Edgar planted a free-kick narrowly wide after Sam-Yorke had been fouled just outside the box. In the four minutes of added time Sam-Yorke came agonisingly close to claiming a winner as he robbed Reda Johnson but he couldn’t quite prod the ball past Clarke, who might well then have brought him down.
The Cards left the field to a well-deserved ovation. Once again, the side had shown great spirit and commitment in making a tremendous comeback against fancied opponents after looking close to being dead and buried at half-time.
The Cards travel to Bromley on Tuesday evening in an important encounter against another side struggling to move away from the relegation zone. More of the same commitment – but with some better defending! – will be needed to come away with a result.
Woking: Michael Poke, Joey Jones, Ismail Yakubu (Max Kretzschmar 78), Brian Saah, Dennon Lewis, Frankie Sutherland (Anthony Edgar 57), Keiran Murtagh, Charlie Carter (Luke Kandi 73), Fabio Saraiva, Delano Sam-Yorke, Matt Tubbs
Unused substitute: Brandon Hall
Goalscorers: Tubbs 23, Sam-Yorke 59, Kandi 79
Eastleigh: Ryan Clarke, Joe Partington, Michael Green, Adam Dugdale, Reda Johnson, Andy Drury, Jai Reason (Adam Dawson 70), Luke Coulson, Jason Taylor, James Constable (Jamie Cureton 70), Mikhael Mandron
Unused substitutes: David Pipe, Ryan Huddart, Ryan Bird
Goalscorers: Coulson 7, Dugdale 29, Partington 45
Booked: Johnson, Partington
Sponsor’s (Tremblays) MOTM: Fabio Saraiva (pictured)
Attendance: 1403 (180 away fans)