Barrow 2 Woking 2
Vanarama National League
8th April 2017
A contentious stoppage-time decision at Holker Street saw Woking miss out on all three points after an incident-packed clash amid blue skies on the Cumbrian coast.
The Cards defied their lowly position and twice led in this key clash, but in the end had to settle for a point, referee Andrew Miller ruling out Delano Sam-Yorke’s late strike for a disputed offside call.
It was a tough blow on a day several fellow strugglers picked up crucial points, yet Paul Cox’s hosts – three points adrift of the play-offs - might have been out of sight before the break.
The Surrey visitors made one change from the team that started against Sutton United a week before, with Jake Caprice replacing Charlie Carter, with Joey Jones moving into midfield. Caprice was involved for much of the afternoon.
Barrow made the brighter start, Richie Bennett showing their intentions early, curling a shot round the post after a move started by ex-Preston North End youth Nick Anderton.
Moments later Anderton again put Bennett away, visitors’ keeper Michael Poke keeping the ball out at his near-post with his feet, and Woking successfully defending the corner.
There was good work by Sam-Yorke in Woking’s first attack of note after defender Brian Saah launched upfield, the in-form forward showing his strength on the ball but unable to find his target.
At the other end, Paul Turnbull shot from distance, Terell Thomas clearing under pressure, while busy Lindon Meikle’s run led to a free-kick, Turnbull’s 25-yard strike just wide, Poke covering anyway.
At the other end, Keiran Murtagh’s free-kick was played too deep, no one able to get there, the roving midfielder then back in Woking’s own half, blocking Shaun Beeley’s effort.
Murtagh was again on hand, helping keep the hosts at bay, while from a deep Bluebirds cross skipper Danny Livesey couldn’t get a header on target.
The pressure continued, Bennett away again, Saah getting a decisive touch, while Beeley and Alex-Ray Harvey combined but the latter couldn't find the right pass in the six-yard box.
Woking were living on their nerves, Bennett again firing wide, while Murtagh collected inside the centre-circle and put Sam-Yorke away, the big striker running on goal but his shot deflected behind.
Yet Murtagh's corner was poor, and soon after Caprice made space on the right but couldn’t reach Kane Ferdinand in the middle.
A more promising Woking build-up followed, involving Thomas, Nathan Ralph, Ferdinand and Murtagh, but again a poor final ball led to a counter-raid, the visitors defending again.
Murtagh and Joey Jones traded passes without a positive delivery, while at the other end Ferdinand was pulled up for a tackle on Turnbull, Jordan Williams’ free-kick causing flutters but cleared by Jones’ assured touch.
Both Ralph and Caprice were getting into the game, but that lack of quality distribution ensured Barrow’s midfield dominance, Ralph back to head away one corner while Ismail Yakubu did the same with a Bennett danger-ball, the same home striker then striking over.
While it seemed like the best option was to get back in the dressing room and regroup, Moussa Diarra next to go close from a corner, a swift break led to a Caprice centre from which Jamie Lucas seemed to mishit yet beat the keeper, last man Turnbull instinctively handling.
The match official gave a stoppage-time penalty and showed a red card, Lucas keeping his cool from the spot, tucking neatly away to the keeper's right.
Even a goal up and against 10 men, there was nervousness though, Caprice booked as Woking played out the half in their own box, Williams’ set-piece cleared by Jones just before the whistle.
Half time: Barrow 0 Woking 1
Barrow made two changes at the turn-around, and the Bluebirds again looked more dominant, Diarra and Bennett quickly causing concern.
Caprice looked handy on the right as Woking countered, thankfully not tempted to sit back on a slim lead. But soon Barrow were level, a mighty left-footed 30-yard Williams free-kick beating a six-man wall and finding the top corner on 51 minutes, Poke reaching the ball but unable to keep it out.
As the home crowd roared the Bluebirds on, a powerful strike from Harvey found Woking jittery again, as if they had one man less, not the hosts.
A further free-kick led to a Barrow corner, Poke pawing away then gathering properly as the ball was pinged back in, the Cards in need of a breather, the hosts’ tails up.
Good work followed by Murtagh, but Barrow still looked stronger in midfield, Beeley and Harvey with the next set-pieces.
Garry Hill made a change, Lucas making way for Gozie Ugwu, and from an initial Murtagh free-kick, Caprice’s centre was played in deep and Saah came closest, but the chance was lost.
As the hosts countered, Williams ran on goal then fired over, the hosts’ confidence levels still high.
However, Woking were soon back in front, Murtagh curling home from the left of the area in the 70th minute for his third goal this term, following touches by Ugwu and Jones from Sam-Yorke’s danger-ball.
Barrow weren’t deterred, Thomas clearing under pressure before the action swung again, Murtagh playing in Ugwu, the sub unable to get his shot in.
Thomas had two more key touches to keep out the hosts before Murtagh almost caught home keeper Jon Flatt out from distance, Woking back in the ascendancy.
When another move broke down Ralph volleyed away at the other end, the Cards soon winning a further free-kick, home sub Ross Hannah booked.
Yet this hasn’t been a season for straight-forward outcomes, and Barrow levelled again, Diarra heading down and Bennett finishing at close quarters on 83 minutes, the Cards again struggling with a set-piece.
In the ‘afters’ both Bennett and Sam-Yorke were booked, the outcome of this match still not clear, the action flipping between ends, four added minutes following.
Then from a Murtagh corner came that big talking point, Sam-Yorke getting a touch as the keeper flapped, then bundling home, only for the flag to go up.
Yet the celebrations were quickly curtailed, the recriminations starting, the Woking boss clearly not happy with the assistant ref’s decision.
The balance might even have tipped again, a rash challenge from Ferdinand leading to a yellow card and a Barrow free-kick thankfully punched away by Poke, the match soon over and Hill able to continue his discussion with the officials, his side left just outside the drop zone on goal difference.
Barrow: Jon Flatt, Shaun Beeley (Ross Hannah 73), Nick Anderton, Danny Livesey, (c), Moussa Diarra, Liam Hughes (Matt Platt 46), Alex-Ray Harvey, Paul Turnbull, Richie Bennett, Jordan Wiliams, Lindon Meikle (Jack Thomas 46).
Unused subs: Akil Wright, Inih Effiong.
Scorers: Williams, Bennett.
Red card: Turnbull 45
Yellow cards: Bennett, Hannah.
Woking: Michael Poke, Jake Caprice, Terell Thomas, Joey Jones, Brian Saah, Ismail Yakuku (c), Keiran Murtagh, Nathan Ralph, Delano Sam-Yorke, Kane Ferdinand, Jamie Lucas (Gozie Ugwu 63).
Unused subs: Brandon Hall, Charlie Carter, Fabio Saraiva, Connor Hall.
Scorers: Lucas 45, Murtagh 70.
Yellow cards: Caprice, Ferdinand, Sam-Yorke.
Referee: Andrew Miller.
Attendance 1,326 (26 away fans).
My MOTM: Keiran Murtagh. His distribution wasn’t always perfect, but while the visitors’ midfield were occasionally second-best, Keiran’s sprit was key all over the pitch, and he not only regained Woking’s lead but played a key part in the chalked-off late goal.