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Cards left frustrated despite crucial late strike

Glen Harrington - 14th October 2015

Cards left frustrated despite crucial late strike Woking 2 Torquay United 2
The Vanarama National League
October 13th 2015

The Cards needed a late goal from man-of-the-match Dan Holman to rescue a point against struggling Torquay, after the cash-strapped Gulls produced an impressive second-half performance to leave their hosts struggling.

It all seemed fairly easy for the home side early one, with Kadell Daniel’s superb left-footed opener inside two minutes preceding a host of further chances.

However, the visitors fought back bravely – playing some decent football despite their recent record – and were rewarded shortly after half-time when Courtney Richards picked out the top corner.

Tyrone Marsh then gave Torquay a shock lead from the penalty spot, after he himself was brought down by goalkeeper Jake Cole, before Holman spared Woking’s blushes with a clever turn and finish five minutes before time.

Garry Hill and Steve Thompson named an unchanged team from Saturday’s comprehensive 3-0 win over Halifax – a result which ended a run of four consecutive defeats – and the team’s boosted confidence was clear to see in the opening twenty minutes, as the Cards dominated the early stages.

Torquay also came into the game off the back of a win – a 1-0 victory against Southport – a result which ended their desperate run of twelve matches without success, but they were quickly behind on a chilly Tuesday evening as Daniel cut in from the right-hand side and floated an exquisite finish past Gulls stopper Fabian Speiss and into the top left-hand corner.

The Cards – particularly dominant down the right through Daniel and full-back Jake Caprice – continued to carve out promising openings during the first half-hour: John Goddard saw a promising run and shot deflected behind for a corner, Keiran Murtagh forced a decent save from distance, and Holman was unlucky not to profit after Caprice’s fine low cross evaded everyone as it sped through the visitors' penalty area.
Daniel also went close to a second of his own – with only a slight deflection, which diverted a long-range effort on to the outside of the left-hand post, likely saving Speiss a trip to pick the ball out of the back of his own net.

But despite barely making an impression for the first third of the game, it was Torquay who ended the half the stronger, as Cole was forced to save from James Hurst and player-manager Kevin Nicholson before the referee’s half-time whistle blew.

Half-time: Woking 1 Torquay United 0

Sadly, the Cards did not learn their lesson from the nervous moments they experienced towards the end of the first period, and within ninety seconds of the second-half starting they found themselves pegged back – with a goalmouth scramble eventually being laid back to Richards on the edge of the area, who had all the time in the world to pick his spot in the top right-hand corner of the net.

Buoyed by their goal, the start of the second-half went almost completely in favour of Torquay: Harry Hickford headed wide, Alex Fisher forced a save from Cole, Richards missed the target from close range and Simon Heslop caused a whole host of problems in the Woking penalty area with a hugely dangerous cross – all in a fifteen minute period.

The introduction of Bruno Andrade, on in place of a limping Goddard, gave the Cards a much needed lift and some fresh impetus out wide. Indeed, the winger may well have had a penalty after taking a tumble in the area, only for referee John Busby to wave away the protests from players and fans alike.

Hill’s side were committing more and more men forward in search of a winner, but ultimately paid the price as they were caught on the break. A Woking corner was quickly cleared by Torquay and within a blink of an eye, substitute Tyrone Marsh was through on goal.

A particularly heavy touch, just as he entered the Cards penalty area, looked briefly to alleviate the danger for the home side as Cole came out to meet the onrushing striker – but the No. 1 didn’t quite time his dive correctly and provided the slight touch that Marsh needed for him to throw himself to the ground.

The striker hauled himself to his feet and confidently converted the penalty himself, finding the bottom left-hand corner to give the visitors a shock lead.

Thankfully, the Cards were quickly stung into action – and with the Gulls already sitting back in an attempt to defend what they had won, another goal in an entertaining game always seemed likely – and so it proved when Holman spun neatly in the penalty area and slotted the ball past a helpless Speiss to deservedly secure his team a point.

The home side continued to push forward in search of a winner, but it was Torquay who almost snatched all three points at the death, as another quick break ended with late substitute Fergus Bell snatching at a chance from just inside the Woking penalty area and sending the ball flying over the crossbar – much to the relief of the home fans.

Ultimately, it will go down as a disappointing night for the Cards, who have now taken just four points from six games. The potential injury to John Goddard – arguably our best player this season – will be a huge worry, and we will have to hope that he wasn’t badly hurt, having originally picked up the knock in the first-half before limping off ten minutes into the second.

There were positives to be had in the performances of Holman, Daniel and – in the latter stages – Andrade, who caused plenty of problems going forward, but the result now places an even greater emphasis on Saturday’s next game, at home to Wrexham, with the Cards now five points adrift of the play-off places – albeit with a game in hand on most of the teams above them.

Woking: Jake Cole, Jake Caprice, Chris Arthur, Terell Thomas, Brian Saah, Mark Ricketts (c) (Giuseppe Sole 79), Joey Jones, Keiran Murtagh, John Goddard (Bruno Andrade 56), Kadell Daniel, Dan Holman

Subs not used: Godfrey Poku, Jimmy Keohane, Nick Hamann

Goals: Kadell Daniel 2, Dan Holman 85

Booking: Keiran Murtagh 30

Torquay United: Fabian Speiss, Durrell Berry, Harry Hickford, Courtney Richards, Kevin Nicholson, Simon Heslop, James Hurst (Fergus Bell 90), Nathan Smith, Louis Briscoe (Tyrone Marsh 46), Bayan Fenwick (Shepherd Murombedzu 75), Alex Fisher

Subs not used: Ashley Yeoman, Dan Lavercombe

Goals: Courtney Richards 46, Tyrone Marsh 77

Bookings: Courtney Richards 73, James Hurst 83

Attendance: 1,556

Sponsor's MOTM: Dan Holman – Worked hard up front, often for little reward, and took his chance brilliantly when it finally came his way in the closing stages. Always puts in a good shift whilst leading the line.
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