Cards bite bullet of a late free kick

Ray Avards
12:08pm, Wed 17th Sep 2014
Torquay United 1 Woking 0
Vanarama Conference
Tuesday 16th September 2014

Woking faced the other form side in the Conference on Tuesday, Torquay United, with four wins in a row, on their own ground.

Ross Worner and Mike Cestor continued in goal and at centre back. The one change being Keiran Murtagh (for Theo Lewis) returning to join a midfield three with Joey Jones, anchored by Josh Payne, behind a front three.

The Cards withstood the home side’s early hustle and created the first chance for themselves when Murtagh slipped through for Sole, who was thwarted by keeper Martin Rice sliding out to smother.

Woking were also forced to make an early change in an unfortunate recent sequence. James Clarke limped off after a challenge, replaced like for like by Adam Newton, at right back.

Dean Morgan found Joey Jones, who fired well wide from the edge of the area:a range finder, as he skimmed the cross bar from further out, a couple of minutes later.

Murtagh nearly set Torquay in with a loose pass back through the middle forcing Ross Worner to slide out and hack clear. On the break Torquay sought to repeat the feat only to bisect their two attackers with a ball too straight and Worner cleared again.

Jones’ mazy run nearly undid the Gulls, dribbling past at least four defenders into the penalty area, only for a stifled shot from 15 yards. Murtagh’s sudden volley from a rebound cannoned off a Torquay back to safety. A Morgan lay-off teed up Scott Rendell to fire an angled drive just wide of the far post with Rice beaten.

Ajala created space at the other end but his shot was blocked for a corner. McNerney was also forced to tidy up as last man under pressure from a through ball as The Gulls sought to counter Cards’ possession with through balls. Jones, seeking to retain possession back to Worner, left it short forcing his keeper to rush out and clear. Worner also had to be sharp to half-smother close in and concede a corner at the feet of Bowman, fed through from midfield. Chappell then shot tamely for Worner to save, having worked his way in on the edge of the area. This was the home side’s best spell now and, as half-time loomed, Jones, having had a knock in midfield but playing on, brought down Bowman on the very edge of the area. Luke Young fired the free-kick in but Worner held well.

The resilient Cards countered as Jones galloped away again and found space to hammer just wide of Rice’s right-hand post. A spirited half from both sides in which the Cards midfield had probably contrived the most dangerous moments at both ends of the pitch!

Half-time: Torquay United 0 Woking 0

Torquay rolled up their sleeves for the second half and Chapell cut in from the left wing to shoot narrowly wide across Worner, though he waved it by. Another Torquay exchange down their left also saw the ball travel a long way across the Woking box without a strike at goal. Dean Morgan, working back to keep possession alive, set up Jones on another drive forward and the loose ball was eventually hacked away by Rice, wide and deep, in his own area. Morgan also turned his man, creating space outside the ‘D’ to fire just over.

Torquay’s change on the hour brought on Courtney Cameron for Chapell in an apparent straight swap. But it was down the right that nearly undid Woking as an overlap created forced Joe McNerney to head over his own cross bar practically from under it.

Woking’s energy levels had dropped and Garry Hill switched to 4-4-2 by replacing Sole, who had little change out of Tonge in the second half, with John Goddard. The game was becoming stretched. A swift counter saw Bowman neck and neck with last man Cestor through the middle, both falling in a heap. Referee Swabey incurred the wrath of the Gulls fans by waving it away but Mike Cestor seemed to be gaining on his man so it looked a fair decision.

A Payne drive was well held by Rice and Jones’ long diagonal cross was met by Rendell’s downward header, clutched on the bounce by the keeper.

Still the Cards would not allow Torquay to settle or lay siege to the away goal. Substitute Cameron was induced to get involved with Morgan on the touchline and got booked for his reaction. Payne’s whipped free-kick bounced in front of Rice’s dive at his right-hand upright but he held on to the ball. Tiredness from four games in eleven days was creeping up on the Cards. Adam Newton’s attempted hack away was late and he was booked on 83 minutes, whilst Theo Lewis joined the action for Murtagh, tiring on his return to the starting line-up.

The Cards still probed when they could. Goddard’s earlier effort on goal lacked venom. Now he dwelt fractionally too long on the ball deep in the opposition area, having been set up by Morgan, who had wriggled free, to allow a foot in and clearance. A tired lunge in midfield as time ran out proved Woking’s undoing. Young lined up the free-kick from all of 35 yards, ignoring his teammates he drove low and hard at goal past the wall. Whether Ross Worner was unsighted or defeated by a deflection, he was beaten.

Woking rallied and pushed up during 5 minutes of added time but the tide was against them and Bowman nearly got in again, before finishing without sting, on the break. Then the referee ignored a trip on Morgan, centre field and on the counter, well inside Torquay territory.

The Cards must recover quickly from their first league defeat and the end of the last unblemished record in the Vanarama Conference this season, as Saturday poses another big test away in the west at ex-Football League regulars Bristol Rovers.

Woking: Ross Worner, James Clarke (Adam Newton, 13), Mike Cestor, Joe McNerney (c), Chris Arthur, Josh Payne, Joey Jones, Keiran Murtagh (Theo Lewis, 85) Dean Morgan, Scott Rendell, Giuseppe Sole (John Goddard, 71)

Unused Subs: Andy Little, Nick Arnold

Booked: Adam Newton

My MOTM: Joey Jones for his marauding style, close control, tenacity and threat on goal.

Torquay United: Martin Rice, Dale Tonge, Aaron Downes, Angus Macdonald, Tom Cruise, Toby Ajala, Courtney Richards, Luke Young (c) Jordan Chapell (Courtney Cameron, 61), Tom Bowman Duane Ofori-Acheampong

Unused Subs: Jordan Seabright, Krystian Pearce, Josh Wakefield, Ashley Yeoman

Booked: Courtney Cameron, Luke Young

Goal: Young 90

Attendance: 2,144

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