Eastleigh 0 Woking 1
Vanarama National League
28th January 2017
Woking made two changes from last time out with Charlie Carter and Macauley Bonne starting, the latter making his first appearance for the Cards following his arrival on loan from Colchester United.
The Cards came to the Silverlake knowing they would have a battle on their hands due to the Spitfires’ impressive home record.
Woking carved out the game’s first attacking move four minutes in, as Dennon Lewis was found wide right by Bonne, but his looping cross could only go out for a throw. The Cards were then awarded a free-kick in a dangerous position after Ugwu was hauled down, but Murtagh could only find the towering head of Eastleigh's centre-back N'Gala who cleared easily.
Eastleigh were then given a free-kick in a similar position in the 10th minute after Green was pulled down. Ross Stearn whipped in a decent delivery which the Cards defence dealt with; the ball eventually found former Millwall striker Darius Henderson who fired a low shot which Poke comfortably held.
The first major chance of the game fell to The Cards in the 14th minute. Busy work by Bonne led to a through ball which played Murtagh in one on one, but the Eastleigh keeper saved low down to his right.
Woking’s impressive start to the game paid off as the first goal came for Woking two minutes later; good work on the right by Lewis led to a fantastic cross by the Watford loanee. The looping ball in found Gozie Ugwu and with almost his first touch of the game, he found the net. Woking's number 9 directed a powerful header into the top left corner from the penalty spot leaving Eastleigh’s keeper Graham Stack helpless. A great start for The Cards.
Eastleigh's response was almost instant as Jai Reason's driven pass found Henderson on the edge of the box; he then drove another low effort but, on this occasion, was wide of the mark.
An injury for the Cards then came in the 24th minute as Brian Saah was forced off. Hill put on Ismail Yakubu in a like-for-like swap.
Straight after the change, a corner for The Spitfires created another opportunity for the home side. Stearns ball in was another dangerous one and found the head of centre-back Adam Dugdale, but he could only direct his glancing header wide of the left-hand post.
A long goal kick in the 28th minute then created another massive opportunity for The Cards. Ugwu sprang the offside trap and raced to the byline but his effort was inches wide of the right hand post.
Eastleigh continued to build pressure on Woking's early lead half an hour in. Ross Stearn continued to be dangerous from set-pieces with a powerful freekick being fired into the Woking wall causing an Eastleigh corner which Thomas comfortably headed away.
The first booking of the game was Woking's, with Charlie Carter hacking down an Eastleigh man 33 minutes in. Eastleigh then had another opportunity from the following free-kick which Garrett wasted.
Eastleigh then made a tactical change before half time with the young midfielder Tyler Garrett being replaced by former Sunderland striker Mikael Mandron. Eastleigh then reverted to 4-3-3 in the search for the equaliser.
Good work again from the debutant Bonne nearly doubled Woking's lead just before the break. He found himself one on one at a narrow angle with only Stack to beat but The Spitfires keeper just about dealt with his effort, although his save looked to have been trickling in.
The whistle came following an impressive first half showing from Woking, who shared the majority of possession, carved the better chances and took a deserved lead into the break.
Half-time Eastleigh 0 Woking 1
Martin Allen then made another change for the home side following the break, with Michael Green making way for Sam Muggleton.
Henderson was prevented again shortly after half-time with Woking's skipper Murtagh blocking another powerful effort from him. Stearn then tried his luck from 25 yards out with speculative effort that was always rising over Poke's goal.
A defensive mix up from The Cards then resulted in a corner for the home side 50 minutes in which was, again, dealt with comfortably by the Woking backline.
Chances were at a premium in the first 15 minutes of the half which worked to Woking's favour. The Cards produced a swift counter attack on the hour mark with the impressive Ugwu at the forefront. He barged his way down the right, eventually cutting inside to slip it in to the on-running Carter. Carter's low drive from the edge of the area was agonisingly wide of the right-hand post.
This forced The Spitfires into third and final change, with James Constable making way for the pacy winger McLeod.
Ugwu then created another wonderful opportunity for Woking to double their lead on the hour. His shot from the edge of the area was palmed away by Stack. Stack could only push his save into the path of Bonne who's rebound shot was straight into the grateful arms of The Spitfires keeper again.
Another booking came for the Cards as Dennon Lewis tripped the dangerous substitute McLeod. This gave Stearn a chance to whip in another set-piece in the 66th minute but his delivery could only find a weak header that was well over the bar.
The Cards were then dealt a killer blow with 23 minutes still to go. Having been booked two minutes before, Dennon Lewis then tripped another Eastleigh player in similar fashion. The referee had no choice but to give Lewis his marching orders- a real shame for the youngster after an impressive game.
This forced Garry Hill into his second change of the afternoon; he looked to shore up defensively, bringing off Bonne for Jake Caprice. A busy debut from Bonne who worked his socks off and worked well with Ugwu; the swap left Ugwu alone upfront for Woking.
The extra man motivated the home side for an onslaught on Woking's goal for the last twenty minutes. Jai Reason dragged a shot a whisker past The Cards goal following the sending off. A corner nearly went all the way in from Stearn, forcing Poke to tip over.
An even bigger scare came 74 minutes in; an Eastleigh header from another corner looked destined for the top corner but the Cards somehow bundled it away. It did, however, trigger large shouts of a handball on the line from the home side but the referee decided against it and awarded another corner that came to nothing; another let off for The Cards.
Yet another corner came on the 77th minute which Mandron could only head over. The pressure was certainly increasing from the home side. A Mandron knock down created another huge chance for the home side but Jai Reason’s shot was blocked.
Hill then tried to plug the Eastleigh pressure by putting on the defensively minded Kretzschmar for Charlie Carter with 10 minutes to go.
The final 10 minutes were defensively sound from Woking, limiting Eastleigh to half chances. However, the equaliser nearly came in the 89th minute as a long throw evaded everyone in the box fortunately for Woking no one in blue got a touch otherwise it was definitely 1-1.
The 4th official awarded four agonising minutes of added time during which Woking needed to stay resolute and disciplined. Bodies were thrown on the line with goal saving blocks following one after another. Another golden chance for the Spitfires was cleared off the line again two minutes from time, as the whole Woking team stayed camped in the Eastleigh box.
The final whistle finally came, rewarding Woking with 3 massive points on the road thanks to a fantastic defensive performance in the last 20 minutes with 10 men. Ugwu's bullet header in the 16th minute proved the difference between the two sides, a huge win on the road for The Cards.
Woking: Michael Poke, Dennon Lewis, Fabio Saraiva, Terell Thomas, Joey Jones, Brian Saah (Ismail Yakubu 24), Keiran Murtagh, Charlie Carter (Max Kretzschmar 81), Kane Ferdinand, Gozie Ugwu, Macaulay Bonne (Jake Caprice 69)
Subs Not Used: Brandon Hall, Connor Hall
Goal: Ugwu 16
Bookings: Carter 33, Kretzschmar 83
Sending Off: Lewis 67
Eastleigh: Graham Stack, Hakeem Odoffin, Bondz N'Gala, Adam Dugdale, Michael Green (Sam Muggleton 45), Ross Stearn, Jai Reason, Sam Togwell, Tyler Garrett (Mikael Mandron 40), James Constable (Mekhi Leonard-McLeod 62), Darius Henderson
Subs Not Used: Ben Strevens, Ayo Obileye
Man of the Match: My MOTM was Gozie Ugwu; he took his goal confidently and started good counter-attacks for the visitors. Also held the ball up very well.
Referee: Alan Young