Cards Grab Last Gasp Equaliser

Andy Jones
11:16am, Wed 13th Aug 2014
Woking 1 Dartford 1
Vanarama Conference Premier
12th August 2014

Woking went into their second league game of the season buoyed by their away victory at Alfreton on Saturday. They started the match with two changes from the team which delivered that excellent win. Mike Cestor replaced the injured John Nutter at left back and captain Mark Ricketts, back from suspension, replaced Joey Jones (who dropped to the bench) in the middle of the back four. The Cards dominated much of the first half and created a number of gilt-edged opportunities but were unable to find the back of the net in a goalless first half. Minutes into the second period they were made to pay for their profligacy when Rory McAuley headed the visitors in front from a corner. Woking then struggled to impose themselves for the rest of the match before substitute Giuseppe Sole popped up to nod an equaliser deep into stoppage time to the huge relief of the Kingfield faithful.

The Cards lined up for the match in a 4-4-2 formation as they had at Alfreton. After a quiet opening, the home team began to dominate proceedings, particularly in midfield, and had three good opportunities to take the lead. Firstly, following a John Goddard corner there was an almighty scramble inside the Dartford six-yard area when it looked as though a Woking player was odds-on to find the target but the opposition managed, with some difficulty, to clear. Following a flowing move down the left, Keiran Murtagh then had a right-foot effort from ten yards out which went wide of the post, when he should probably have at least worked the 'keeper, and Goddard also pulled a shot wide when well-placed. Shortly afterwards, Scott Rendell had a good shot saved by Jason Brown in the Dartford goal.

Dartford were also having their moments, particularly down their right flank, and it took a couple of alert saves from Aaron Howe to snuff out the danger. As the half wore on, a poor clearance from Adam Newton released Tom Bradbrook, who drove into the box but his shot was weak and was well gathered by the home 'keeper. Woking pressed again with a Theo Lewis right-foot shot just missing the Dartford keeper’s right-hand goalpost when the midfielder would have hoped to have done better. Dean Morgan then skilfully made space on the edge of the area, before releasing a fine shot which Brown got down to well.

Overall, the Cards would have been disappointed to come in at the interval still level as, on the balance of play, they had enjoyed much the better of the opening forty-five minutes.

Half-time: Woking 0 Dartford 0

Cards fans would have been expecting their team to continue to take the game to their opponents in the second half. It came as quite a shock, therefore, when the Darts took the lead three minutes after the break. A corner was swung in from the right and Rory McAuley, in a cluster of players, headed home from inside the six-yard box.

Woking replied with a John Goddard shot, which was cleared for a corner. The Cards were then awarded a free-kick just outside the area from which Josh Payne curled in a wicked delivery which unfortunately evaded all of the onrushing attackers and went harmlessly behind for a goal-kick. There was now a hint of desperation in the home side's play as they started to huff and puff, throwing plenty of long balls forward rather than relying on their crisp passing game. With a quarter of an hour remaining and the team starting to look increasingly leggy, Garry Hill started to ring the changes, replacing Murtagh, Lewis and Newton with Joey Jones, Giuseppe Sole and Reece Beckles.

Woking were now starting to press forward in search of the equaliser and were increasingly starting to leave gaps at the back. Dartford almost doubled their lead from one such situation but Howe kept the home side in the game when he saved well from an Andy Rich shot.

However, there was to be a late, late reprieve for Woking deep into five minutes of added-on time. Dean Morgan wriggled free down the left and his cross was gleefully headed home from six yards out by Sole. There was still time for the Cards to attack once more with the last action of the match but Joey Jones' effort hit the side netting when many inside Kingfield thought that the ball had found the back of the net.

Ultimately, this was probably one point gained rather than two points lost, given the Cards' dramatic late equaliser. Had the team taken one of their early clear-cut chances, however, it might have been a different story. As the manager said after the match "we didn't do enough tonight and seemed to lose our way". Still, four points from the opening two games is a more than acceptable start to the season.

Next up, another home game against Macclesfield Town this coming Saturday.

Woking : Aaron Howe, Adam Newton (Reece Beckles 82), Mike Cestor, Mark Ricketts (Captain), Joe McNerney, Josh Payne, Keiran Murtagh (Joey Jones 75), Scott Rendell, Theo Lewis (Giuseppe Sole 76), John Goddard, Dean Morgan

Unused Subs: James Clarke, Jake Cole

Bookings: Theo Lewis (62), Josh Payne (66)

Goal: Giuseppe Sole (90+3)

Dartford: Jason Brown, Mat Mitchel-King, Adam Green, Luke Daley, Max Cornhill, Rory McAuley, Elliot Bradbrook (Captain), Tom Bradbrook, Andy Rich, Lee Burns (Nathan Collier 76), Peter Sweeney

Unused Subs: Ryan Hayes, Danny Harris, Harry Crawford, Deren Ibrahim

Bookings: Lee Burns (73)

Goal: Rory McAuley (48)

Sponsors' MOTM: Mark Ricketts

Attendance: 1538

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