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Sweet Marriott treble ends Shaymen's unbeaten league run

Malcolm Wyatt
10:02am, Sun 8th Dec 2013
FC Halifax Town 3 Woking 4
The Skrill Premier 

7th December 2013 

Jack Marriott showed his class for Woking in West Yorkshire on Saturday, as the Cardinals edged a seven-goal Skrill Premier thriller.

The Ipswich Town loanee helped turn this match around in an explosive opening, as Garry Hill’s men overcame the shock of conceding within 90 seconds to become the first away victors at The Shay in 12 league matches.

But this wouldn’t have been Woking if it wasn’t for a few nervous moments, the hosts fighting back and coming close to snatching a point.

Archie Love put the hosts ahead in the Shaymen’s first attack, the visitors stalling as playmaker Adam Smith advanced on goal and crossed to the left post, Mark Ricketts unable to stop the on-loan Burnley midfielder netting from close range.

At five to three, the outlook hadn’t looked good for Halifax boss Neil Aspin, missing four injured first-teamers. Yet they hadn’t counted on the Cards’ early inability to focus defensively.

But while that remains an issue for Woking, things are definitely looking up following Hill’s latest loan acquisitions, with Mick McCarthy’s teen star Marriott about to steal the show yet again.

On the day, he received valuable support from fellow target man Scott Rendell and further loanee, Charles Banya, while Josh Payne proved a handful in midfield and Kevin Betsy and Keiran Murtagh slowly made an impression.

Fortunately for Woking, Halifax also looked suspect at the back early on, and the referee’s watch hadn’t even reached the nine-minute mark as Marriott levelled.

It was his least remarkable finish of the afternoon, but Marriott’s sense of position and hunger for the ball never disappointed, the youngster side-footing home from the middle of the area after a quick right-wing raid initiated by Betsy led to a Rendell shot blocked by Matty Pearson but clinically followed up.

Four minutes later, the in-form striker struck again, Joe McNerney playing through with precision and the Tractor Boy doing the rest, picking his spot perfectly.

It was just the latest example of the consummate finishing Woking had lacked during the first third of the season.

Halifax appealed for a penalty within a minute, but referee Peter Bankes was not moved and by the 16th minute the game seemed to be as good as over after another quickfire attack caught the Yorkshiremen cold.

Marriott and John Nutter combined well before the latter found Rendell on the right of the area, the Luton loan striker showing great athleticism to stretch out and fire home, giving keeper Matt Glennon no chance.

Woking still looked leggy at the other end, but on the break a promising attack led to another opening, Aspin’s hosts desperate for a half-time re-jig.

Before then, Marriott came close again with another snap-shot, while from a Payne corner Mike Cestor was only just denied by Glennon.

Marriott and Rendell continued to cause major headaches, with great support from the left by Fulham 20-year-old Banya, despite an early head injury that left him in a numberless shirt.

The hosts eventually settled, but when Payne fed from the left, Rendell was almost in again.

Adam Newton replaced Banya five minutes before the break, with opinion divided over whether it was a tactical move, shoring up to deter a fightback.

Either way, Halifax finally started to make an impact, the impressive Smith only denied at the last moment by Sam Beasant from a promising Scott McManus cross, the roles reversed shortly after as McManus struck from distance.

But the visitors remained a threat, with Murtagh testing Glennon from distance after a Payne free-kick was only half-cleared.

Half-time: FC Halifax Town 1 Woking 3

The catalyst for change after the break was the introduction of the impressive Dan Gardner, replacing goal-scorer Love.

He inspired a frantic start from the Shaymen, with Smith in a supporting role, but Woking looked collectively calm under pressure, happy to hold the ball up at the other end.

When Halifax did break, Beasant and his defence looked comfortable. And for all their added bluster, the hosts still failed to properly test the Cards.

Gardner soon showed his pace and fine touch, winning a free-kick outside the area, fellow sub Josh Wilson beating the wall but with no one able to turn in his low drill.

Further penalty shouts were ignored as Mark Ricketts appeared to handle from a second successive corner, while Joe McNerney booted away the next Gardner attack and Smith volleyed another chance over.

Then came a further moment of Marriott magnificence on 73 minutes, as Betsy broke down the left and played in the 19-year-old for his hat-trick. He still had plenty to do, but struck a wonderfully-accurate shot past Glennon’s right glove into the corner.

That three-goal cushion lasted barely a minute, Ricketts cancelling out Reece Gray’s run but Wilson tucking away the loose ball.

Halifax’s tail was up now, but so was the adrenaline, the ref reaching for his red card after Gray appeared to stamp on Ricketts, the Woking captain receiving treatment as the Rochdale loan man made his exit.

An offside flag denied Rendell another one-on-one with Glennon after a Murtagh through-ball, while as the tension grew, McNerney was booked for a shove.

The nerves started to tell after a stunning 30-yard swerved effort from Gardner made its way through a sea of yellow shirts to beat Beasant and bring the hosts within a goal with nine minutes to spare.

Halifax had the bit between their teeth, but Marriott might still have added his fourth after Murtagh beat three men to play him in, the striker’s long shot beating Glennon but just going left of the post.

Rendell finished in the back of the net after another Betsy centre, but the ball eluded him, while at the other end Murtagh and Cestor were the next to be booked.

Beasant punched away Paul Marshall’s free-kick, while McNerney hoofed away the next attack before the electronic board indicated another nervy five minutes.

The Shaymen continued to toil, Wilson coming closest from distance, but the Cards clung on to secure all three points, Marriott claiming the match-ball after yet another superb performance took his tally to seven goals in five games.

Halifax: Glennon, Pearson (Patterson 61), Ainge, Anderson, McManus, Smith, Love (Gardner 46), Maynard, Marshall, Gray, Ironside (Wilson 60). Subs not used: Senior, McReady.

Booking: Patterson

Sending Off: Gray

Woking: Beasant, Cestor, Payne, McNerney, Nutter, Ricketts, Betsy, Marriott (Johnson 90), Murtagh, Banya (Newton 41), Rendell. Subs not used: Howe, Sole, Goddard.

Bookings: McNerney, Murtagh, Cestor

Attendance: 1,033

MOTM: Jack Marriott - Once again, the Ipswich loanee oozed class, showing a wonderful touch, commitment to the cause and fantastic finishing

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