Dramatic end to end encounter results in valuable away point

Malcolm Wyatt
12:11pm, Sun 6th Oct 2013
Southport 1 Woking 1
The Skrill Premier
5th October 2013

An absorbing Conference clash that might have gone either way right to the death ended in stalemate at Haig Avenue on Saturday.

Woking struggled to build on Scott Rendell’s early first-half opener, their hard work soon undone by Sandgrounders star-turn Jamie Milligan’s fortuitous equaliser.

And while the visitors had several chances to end Port’s unbeaten home record from there, they might easily have come home empty-handed, with both sides thwarted late on in an often frenetic encounter.

The Cards were ahead within three minutes, a defence-splitting Darren Murphy pass putting Rendell away, the on-loan Luton striker holding off a challenge and coolly picking his spot, Danny Hurst parrying but unable to keep the shot out.

Port were not deterred, going straight up the other end and, from a corner on the right, panic ensued as Sam Beasant struggled.

A rugby-style scrum followed, yet somehow Woking survived, a free-kick given and combative captain Mark Ricketts the last man back on his feet.

The home pressure continued, Joe McNerney putting Milligan’s danger-ball behind and Murphy clearing the corner after Mike Cestor’s stop on the line.

Woking countered, Rendell a raised flag away from a one-on-one with Hurst, while Kevin Betsy’s labours led to a Gavin Williams free-kick from which McNerney and Jack Parkinson were close to heading home.

Quick balls over the top continued to cause Port problems, but Cestor was offside from a McNerney cross while Williams volleyed just wide from a Betsy centre.

Milligan remained a thorn in Woking’s side, and in the 19th minute his free-kick from the right of the area was only part-cleared, the ex-Fleetwood Town midfielder’s follow-up eluding everyone, Beasant wrong-footed as he curled into the net.

Woking fought straight back, Port player of the month Hurst unsure of himself as he lost out close to his line. But this time Rendell couldn’t hit the target.

It was Beasant’s turn next, getting down to a tricky Yamen Osawe effort, the striker twice more in the following minutes having sight of goal but unable to finish.

Ricketts’ tackle denied Osawe’s next raid after another Milligan centre, while David Fitzpatrick came close with a speculative shot.

On the break, Williams was off target after a classy lay-off by Rendell, who then played in Payne as the away pressure continued.

Betsy battled to win a corner, Rendell and McNerney getting touches from John Nutter’s set-piece, and Hurst, exposed again, punching away.

Osawe dazzled in the next attack, but his lay-off found Jay Smith offside, while a lofted Milligan delivery was headed over by Danny Hattersley.

As play continued to flow, a Nutter free-kick caused problems, while Osawe came close to unlocking the visiting defence yet again.

Woking appealed as Hurst handled on the edge of his area after further confusion, with Betsy running the width of the pitch soon after, trying to find a way through.

From the next cross, Port again struggled to clear, Parkinson testing Hurst from distance and his effort turned around for a corner, easily dealt with as a busy half petered out.

Half-time: Southport 1 Woking 1

The Sandgrounders were almost in a minute after the restart, Beasant denying Paul Rutherford’s fierce strike after Hattersley’s through-ball.

The same provider set up Fitzpatrick next, while Beasant stopped Brice Irie-Bi’s free-kick as Woking teetered.

Garry Hill introduced Adam Newton for Murphy, the Cards soon threatening as Betsy waltzed through on the right of the area.

But he couldn’t feed Rendell in the next attack, while Nutter shot into the side-netting after Cestor’s lay-off.

Port countered, Milligan firing in corners from both sides, the best put behind by an increasingly busy Beasant.

At the other end, Hurst caught a Cestor cross-shot, while a long-range Payne effort was cut out by the keeper after the impressive Newton toiled away on his 100th Cards appearance.

Matty Challinor and Luke George were caught out as Betsy attacked again, but no one could finish from Nutter’s resultant corner, while Ricketts was offside the next time Betsy looked to unload, the flag raised again as Williams cut through.

Irie-Bi went closer from an Osawe break before he was replaced, Port making two changes for the last 20 minutes, the game still in the balance.

Rendell was just wide with a spectacular diving header from a Payne cross soon after, while Beasant cut out from home sub Steven Tames and a Newton challenge denied Osawe.

Tames might have done better from another mighty Milligan ball, while Rutherford let fly with a volley but was just wide of Beasant’s post.

Woking moved up a gear when Anthony McNamee replaced Williams on 78 minutes, but neither Cestor nor Betsy could finish off his first right-wing raid, the latter’s header hitting the post.

The home defence continued to live dangerously, Cestor heading over after a great passing move started by Payne, and replaced by Giuseppe Sole for the last six minutes.

It took a majestic Parkinson header to keep out Scott Brown’s defence-splitting ball, but Woking went straight up the other end, Hurst stopping with his feet from Betsy.

Sole took the corner, but Rendell’s attempted bicycle kick came to nothing and Port countered with gusto, Tames through on goal but somehow hitting Beasant’s left post after the keeper narrowed the angle.

Moments later, it happened again, this time fellow sub Karl Ledsham denied by the keeper as the defence chased shadows.

And while hearts still pounded, Betsy and Sole carved an opening at the other end, beating Hurst only for George to clear off the line in the last real chance of a thrilling end to end encounter neither side deserved to lose.

Woking: Sam Beasant, Mike Cestor (Giuseppe Sole 84), John Nutter, Joe McNerney, Jack Parkinson, Mark Ricketts ©, Kevin Betsy, Josh Payne, Darren Murphy (Adam Newton 51), Gavin Williams (Anthony McNamee 78), Scott Rendell. Subs not used: Aaron Howe, John Goddard.

Booking: Jack Parkinson 90

Southport: Danny Hurst, Matty Challoner, Jay Smith, Luke George, David Fitzpatrick, Scott Brown, Jamie Milligan (Aaron Chalmers 81), Brice Irie-Bi (Karl Ledsham 70), Paul Rutherford, Yamen Osawe, Danny Hattersley (Steven Tames 70). Subs not used: David Stevenson, Steve Akrigg.

Attendance: 873

MOTM: Sam Beasant – The Cards' keeper has gone from strength to strength of late, and while partly at fault for Port’s equaliser, he saved Woking’s skin at key points in the game.

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