Truro fightback can't spoil Cards' party

Glen Harrington
11:30pm, Sat 21st Apr 2012
Woking 3 Truro City 3
Blue Square Bet South
21st April 2012

A spirited Truro fight-back could only briefly dampen the Woking celebrations as Mark Ricketts and Adam Newton gleefully lifted the Blue Square South Trophy in front of a packed house at Kingfield.

After a slow start the Cards found their passing rhythm and quickly put themselves into a two-goal lead, with Paris Cowan-Hall (pictured) turning in a Moses Ademola cross and Giuseppe Sole notching his 14th goal in ten league games.

However, the visitors caught the hosts’ back-line uncharacteristically off-guard in the lead up to half-time, full-back Scott Walker’s hopeful ball out of defence setting Andy Watkins through on goal – the White Tigers’ top scorer making no mistake.

Cowan-Hall restored the home team’s two-goal lead shortly after the interval, but Truro struck back through Arran Pugh’s header, and claimed a late leveller when Barry Hayles squared for Les Afful to tap home.

With the hosts having secured the title with last weekend’s win at Maidenhead, and Truro having all but confirmed their league survival, despite a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Bromley last time out, the game started with an air of relaxed confidence from both teams. Despite a distinctive lack of clear-cut chances in the opening exchanges, it was clear the visitors had come to spoil the party, rather than to simply avoid a heavy defeat.

Having perhaps slightly edged those opening twenty minutes, they then fell foul of the game’s first moment of class. Ademola picked up the ball on the right-hand side and, several characteristic step-overs later, applied an inch-perfect cross that allowed an unmarked Cowan-Hall to touch home at the back post.

Truro came close to striking straight back, Watkins escaping Adam Newton and pulling the ball back for strike partner Martin Gritton, who sent his effort only narrowly wide of Aaron Howe’s far post.

They were made to pay for their miss by another moment of Woking brilliance, this time from Kevin Betsy, who having collected a neatly headed flick from Cowan-Hall, jinked past two defenders, rounded the goalkeeper and, realising he’d taken the ball too wide to shoot himself, calmly squared for Sole, who applied the simple finish.

But back came a resilient and hard-working Truro, Watkins netting out of nowhere to put his side right back in the game – Walker’s long ball bypassing the Woking back-line and allowing the City striker all the time in the world to pick his spot and coolly slot past Howe.

There was just enough time remaining in the half for Ademola to see his attempt hacked off the line, after he was found by Keiran Murtagh’s corner, and Jack King to have a curling 20-yard effort neatly kept out by Truro keeper Tim Sandercombe.

Half-time: Woking 2 Truro City 1

Garry Hill and Steve Thompson had started the day with two changes from the team that had won at Maidenhead, with Betsy (back from suspension) replacing Tom Davis and Derek Duncan coming in for Mike Cestor.

It seemed the Cards had missed Davis’s more defensive duties in the first half, which in previous weeks has allowed his midfield partner the freedom to go forward, and it was he who was one of two half-time changes, replacing Murtagh, while Adam Doyle, also back from a ban, came on in place of Joe McNerney.

Davis almost instantly repaid his manager’s decision to introduce him, by spraying a delicious cross-field ball to Ademola on the right flank. Moses skipped round his marker and made it to the corner flag before, for the second time in the match, he delivered the perfect cross for Cowan-Hall to nod home.

But, again, a dip in concentration followed a moment of success, as Newton gave away a free-kick on the left-hand side of the area, and Walker’s chipped cross was met, despite the close presence of Alan Inns, by the towering Pugh, who comfortably headed home from inside the six-yard box.

To the delight and perhaps surprise of the Kingfield faithful, on came Elvis Hammond in place of Newton. Davis dropped to the vacant right-back position, and Sole moved into midfield in order to accommodate a highly attacking formation, especially considering the lead.

Cowan-Hall might have made the game safe when he headed Duncan’s cross wide, but it was the visitors who would have the final say, substitutes Hayles and Afful linking up to produce the equaliser – the powerful Hayles muscling his way past a couple of defenders and seeing his shot-turned-cross converted by Afful.

Disappointing in one way to lose what had been a comfortable lead, but a result that a commendable Truro performance perhaps deserved and one that, in the long-run, is immaterial. There were still impressive performances from many Woking players, especially man-of-the-match Cowan-Hall, who might have grabbed a late winner had the ball not got caught under his feet, while others can surely be forgiven for slightly under-par displays after such a wonderful season.

A fantastic turnout of 4,048 – a higher attendance than all but two Blue Square Premier games and over half of Npower League 2 matches – respectfully restrained themselves and allowed all the squad members to claim their respective prizes, before spilling onto the pitch to celebrate with their heroes – a perfect end to a near perfect season. Blue Square Premier here we come!

Woking: Aaron Howe, Adam Newton (Elvis Hammond 63), Derek Duncan, Keiran Murtagh (Tom Davis 46), Alan Inns, Joe McNerney (Adam Doyle 46), Paris Cowan-Hall, Jack King, Moses Ademola, Giuseppe Sole, Kevin Betsy

Unused Subs: Andy Little, Dale Binns

Goals: Cowan-Hall 22 & 53, Sole 31

Booked: Betsy 59

Truro City: Tim Sandercombe, Barry McConnell, Scott Walker, Arran Pugh, Steve Adams, Joe Broad, Adam Kelly, Cody Cooke, Martin Gritton (Barry Hayles 69), Andy Watkins, Isaac Vassell (Les Afful 76).
Unused Subs: Jake Ash

Goals: Watkins 36, Pugh 57, Afful 86

Booked: Kelly 77

MOTM: Paris Cowan-Hall – Two neat finishes to strong Woking moves, led the line well against the impressive Arran Pugh and was unlucky not to grab a late winner

Attendance: 4,048

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