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Silky late strike proves mighty blow after Cards' comeback

Malcolm Wyatt - 7th December 2014

Silky late strike proves mighty blow after Cards' comeback Macclesfield Town 2 Woking 1
Vanarama Conference
6th December 2014

Home skipper Paul Turnbull undid Woking’s second-half hard work with a killer strike in the 89th minute at the Moss Rose on Saturday.

In a compelling Cheshire encounter in which the visitors deserved a share of the spoils, Turnbull struck at the death as John Askey’s side drew level on points with the Cards. It was a bitter blow for Garry Hill’s battlers, who put in a valiant shift after the break and might even have nicked all three points.

As it was, Woking slipped to third after Bristol Rovers’ draw at Welling, while the Silkmen underlined their own play-off potential to go fourth.

The Cards came into this clash on the back of two straight home wins, but were held to a goalless draw in mid-August by an impressive Macclesfield Town side unbeaten at home all season.

Askey's side went narrowly down at leaders Barnet the previous weekend, but were ahead in this encounter within 14 minutes.

The first chance fell to the Cards, a promising build-up leading to a powerful Joey Jones strike that just cleared Rhys Taylor's right post.

Jones was involved in another left-wing raid orchestrated by Chris Arthur, but the final ball was poor, while a John Goddard ball was too strong for the chasing Dean Morgan, Woking's lone frontman.

Keiran Murtagh and Kevin Betsy also looked lively in support to Morgan, but pretty soon Macc made their mark.

After Arthur headed away as Turnbull pressed and Betsy cleared under pressure from Scott Barrow, Danny Whittaker created an opening, moving one way then another to get a shot in from outside the area. And while Cards' keeper Ros Worner reacted well, he could only parry to the waiting Matthew Barnes-Homer, who tucked away from close range for the opening goal.

Josh Payne showed poise to break up the next Macc build-up, while the home defence stood firm to deny an Arthur and Jones-led attack, Woking’s approach play all too often coming to nothing.

Joe McNerney, back from a three-match suspension, played in Goddard again, who battled hard down the left but could not find a way through.

At the other end, Mike Cestor headed away a home corner under pressure as the Silkmen looked set to pounce.

Barnes-Homer got the better of Cestor as Macc pushed up again but Worner read his strike well, McNerney heading away the next danger-ball.

The Cards, beaten 3-2 at the same ground last September on an afternoon to forget, were looking a little less assured by the half-hour stage.

But Jones carved out an opening 10 minutes before the break, making space then letting fly from distance, his effort just wide.

Murtagh then played Betsy away, but the home defence cleared and were soon advancing again.

Home 'man of the match' George Pilkington was booked for a rash challenge on Morgan on 37 minutes, Woking boss Hill later arguing he was lucky to stay on after a second yellow-card offence went unpunished.

As it was, Josh Payne's resultant long-range free-kick found McNerney, but he headed wide.

Payne tried his luck from distance again, Taylor flying across his goalmouth but seeing the shot fall agonisingly wide.

And the Cards' pressure continued, a swift passing move ending with a deep Morgan delivery from the left that narrowly eluded a speedy James Clarke.

Half-time: Macclesfield Town 1 Woking 0

For all the visitors’ early midfield pressure, Macc’s opener had set Woking back, but both sides were still in this encounter.

Yet with three strikers on the bench, it was a case of just how long Garry Hill would take to make a change.

As it turned out, a more urgent Woking returned to the field, a promising early attack ending with a powerful Murtagh strike that barely missed Taylor's right post.

But the following attack brought the visitors level, an initial build-up seemingly defused before Morgan somehow found a gap, firing left-footed into the bottom corner from 20 yards for a 51st-minute equaliser.

The pace stepped up accordingly, the Cards in the ascendency but finding their hosts keen to not waste their early impetus.

In one such swift counter-attack, Cestor came to the rescue with a fantastic sliding tackle to dispossess Adriano Moke as he bore down on goal.

The Cards were then inches away from the lead, Betsy letting a cross-field ball fall to the waiting Payne, whose strike beat Taylor but unfortunately slipped just wide.

Moments later, Cestor again saved the day, Clarke’s brief hesitation letting the ever-dangerous Barnes-Homer in.

A minute later a visitors’ break came to nothing and Macc broke again, a cross falling kindly to Waide Fairhurst, whose header was just wide.

As the game continued to flow, Liam Hogan cleared at one end while Goddard was denied by Taylor 's fine save and a Payne volley was just off target at the other.

Murtagh seemed to struggle to make an impact against his former side and was replaced by Giuseppe Sole on 71 minutes.

In one promising Cards raid, the home team was left in a panic and Taylor dallied under pressure, a defender clearing off the line in the confusion.

The hosts continued to break swiftly, but again Cestor was there with a perfectly-timed tackle to stop Moke advance on goal.

Goddard tracked back to clear the next home raid, while no one could reach a Barnes-Homer cross and Woking were saved again.

The game was still perfectly poised, with the referee unmoved amid home shouts for a penalty as the Silkmen streamed forward and a player went to ground.

Woking countered, Arthur and Goddard in the vanguard, but pretty soon the hammer blow came, a swift raid only partly cleared and the ball falling to Turnbull, who found the net from distance with the help of a deflection.

Cestor had to deny Barnes-Homer once more as Macc looked to finish their visitors off on the break, Sole and Jones struggling to find an opening and the Cards getting no closer from there.

Macclesfield Town: Rhys Taylor, Andy Halls, Scott Barrow, George Pilkington, Paul Turnbull (c), Chris Holroyd (Arthur Gnahoua 72), Waide Fairhurst (Denny Johnstone 80), Adriano Moke, Danny Whittaker, Matthew Barnes-Homer, Liam Hogan

Unused subs: Alex Grant, Will Bailey, Ritchie Brannigan

Cautions: Pilkington, Fairhurst

Woking: Ross Worner, Mike Cestor, Joe McNerney (c), James Clarke (Adam Newton 85), Josh Payne, Keiran Murtagh (Giuseppe Sole 81), Kevin Betsy, Joey Jones, John Goddard (Jack Marriott 90), Dean Morgan, Chris Arthur

Unused subs: Scott Rendell, Andy Little

Attendance: 1,383

My MOTM: Mike Cestor was in fine form in the Woking defence, keeping Adriano Moke and Matthew Barnes-Homer under wraps at key stages.
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