Woking 0 Southport 0
Vanarama National League
18th February 2017
Woking were held to a goalless draw stalemate against fellow relegation fighters Southport after neither side could craft a clear chance at the Laithwaite Community Stadium.
Despite a promising first half without goals, Hill’s Woking side came up against a stubborn Southport side and even though both sides held the two worst defensive records in the league this season neither side could find a cutting edge as the game looked destined to end in a frustrating draw.
With results around Woking not going their way the Cards have slipped to 20th place and sit just one spot and one point above the relegation zone but with a much healthier goal difference than the teams below them.
Hill made two changes to the team which clinched victory against Solihull Moors on Tuesday night with Chris Arthur returning from injury at left back and Max Kretzschmar replacing Macauley Bonne in attack.
Under bright blue skies both sides took the opening 15 minutes to ease into the game wary not to be exposed at the back considering Southport hold the worst defensive record and Woking the second worst in the league.
The home side had the first genuine chance of the match when Arthur’s dinked cross found Gozie Ugwu whose header back across goal narrowly evaded Kretzschmar who stretched in vain to divert it on target.
A smart switch in play between Fabio Saraiva and Ugwu saw the striker turn past Southport captain Euan Murray and went down under the defender’s challenge but referee Steven Rushton waved away penalty claims.
As the first period wore on Southport were gradually forced backwards and, from a free kick, Ismail Yakubu found himself free from his marker at the back post but his header was directed straight at goalkeeper Magnus Norman.
Woking’s attacking flow, which has provided Hill’s team best performances this season, started to click with Saraiva beating his marker with a lovely turn to set free Jake Caprice on the right flank. His low cross was sweetly flicked on by Ugwu but it again missed Kretzschmar at the far post for what would have been a simple tap in.
Halftime: Woking 0 Southport 0
With chances few and far between after the interval Hill looked to shake up his attack just after the hour mark by putting on Macauley Bonne for Kretzschmar to have two centre forwards alongside Ugwu. The change put renewed impetus into the home side with Bonne heading the ball on to the charging Kane Ferdinand but his effort whistled over the crossbar.
Given the two sides’ situation at the bottom half of the league table, as the game remained goalless entering the final 15 minutes tension grew within the Laithwaite Community Stadium having witnessed an edgy encounter against Solihull Moors on Tuesday night.
The Woking boss aimed to inject fresh pace into the attack with Dennon Lewis coming on in the number ten role with Saraiva filling in a left back for Arthur, with Connor Hall also added into the forward line for the final ten minutes.
Despite Woking’s tireless effort it was the visitors who had a late spell of pressure with a series of lofted balls into the box but the Cards defence stood firm and Michael Poke made one smart save to keep hold of a point.
Woking now face difficult games back-to-back against playoff contenders, with a trip to Forest Green Rovers next weekend followed by Dover Athletic’s trip to Kingfield at the end of February.
Woking: Michael Poke; Jake Caprice, Terell Thomas, Ismail Yakubu (Connor Hall 81), Joey Jones, Chris Arthur (Dennon Lewis 76); Keiran Murtagh, Kane Ferdinand, Fabio Saraiva; Max Kretzschmar (Macauley Bonne 66), Gozie Ugwu
Unused subs: Brandon Hall, Charlie Carter
Southport: Magnus Norman; Ryan Higgins, Rory McKeown, Ross White, Andrai Jones; Jamie Allen, Euan Murray, Liam Nolan, Lindon Meikle; Liam Hynes, Jim Stevenson
Unused subs: Mason Springthorpe, Declan Weeks, Ban McKenna, Ashley Grimes, Neil Ashton
Referee: Steven Rushton
Sponsors’ (Stelrad and City Plumbing) MOTM: Terell Thomas