Cards work overtime for attritional point
8:13am, Sun 31st Jan 2016
Woking 2 Barrow AFC 2
Vanarama National League
January 30th 2016
The top line is that Woking remained in sixth place after this two apiece draw with Barrow AFC. But that hardly tells the story of a game that had it all.
For starters, there was the small matter of this game not concluding until gone 5pm after an early injury to a linesman resulted in 15 (fifteen) minutes of added time in the first half.
All four goals arrived in the hour-long opening period, with the home side having to twice come from behind – John Goddard and Giuseppe Sole on target for the battling hosts.
Garry Hill made two changes to the side that lost 3-1 at Altrincham on Tuesday night: Joe Quigley coming back into attack, while Luton Town loan signing Scott Griffiths took his bow at left-back.
Little did 30-year-old Griffiths know, but his 28-day stint at Kingfield was about to get off to a nightmare start as he put through his own net after just 18 minutes. It wasn’t quite his first touch in the cardinal and white but the full-back’s unerring header certainly belied his diminutive stature!
Just as they were seven days earlier against Halifax, the Cards had to be up for a scrap to bank a home point against an archetypally physical team from the bottom half of the Vanarama National League.
Happily, man of the match John Goddard (pictured) had his shooting boots back on as he netted his first goal since 2nd January. The Cards' top scorer blasted home his 14th strike of the season expertly on the half volley from Quigley’s knock-down after 22 minutes.
Incredibly, there were still 38 minutes left on referee Chris Powell’s watch in the first half after the bizarre injury to his assistant Matthew Rushton just two minutes in. Standing at close quarters to a challenge between Bruno Andrade and Barrow’s Nick Wilmer-Anderton, the match ball somehow squirmed up, poleaxing the flag holder in the process. After a 12-minute evaluation of the head blow, involving club doctor Sanjeev Sekhon, it was decided that a shaken Mr Rushton should takes his leave from the field of play.
For the second week running, a distress call was put out over the PA system asking for any qualified officials in the house to come forward - long-time Cards' fan Alban Lee the man to answer that appeal.
Those two goals inside the opening quarter of the game merely served to light the touch paper as, before the half-hour mark, the Bluebirds led for a second time – striker Andy Cook marking a superb individual performance with a well-deserved goal as he headed in from six yards out.
One of many close calls to go against the Cards saw Joey Jones punished for a lunge on Cook’s strike partner Jordan Williams. With the Woking rearguard looking all at sea, winger Dan Pilkington’s inswinging free-kick found Cook and, despite initially being kept out at point-blank range by Cole, the former Grimsby Town hitman nodded his 15th goal of the campaign into an unguarded net after 28 minutes.
An anxious Kingfield naturally thought that rookie fourth official Lee had made a gaff with his electronic board when 15 minutes’ added time were indicated at the end of the first period. But Garry and his grafting players were grateful for the overtime when Sole levelled things up for the second time.
A miscued Griffiths shot across goal found its way to Sole, who, benefitting from a borderline offside call, deftly steered the ball low past 'keeper Joel Dixon and into the far corner, to take the sides in 2-2 after an epic opening first half.
Half-time: Woking 2 Barrow AFC 2
Just 15 minutes rest seemed too little after an exhausting opening period but both sides ploughed on looking for a winner. Goddard, time and again won his personal battle with full-back Dave Symington – flashing two shots across the Barrow bows.
Like Sole had earlier, Quigley almost benefitted as a loose ball into the box fell into his path; only some last-ditch defending by Bluebirds’ skipper Simon Grand and stopper Dixon keeping the scores level.
Youngster Quigley is still learning his trade, of course, and he could do worse than learn from the aerial prowess of his opposing targetmen, Cook and Williams – the Barrow duo were totting up the kind of heading success stats that the watching Scott Rendell would have been proud of.
Sole almost converted his second free-kick of the week ten minutes from time when he bent an effort inches over the angle of post and bar, but the closing stages remained doggedly contested, with the momentum swinging one way then the other.
Woking did almost carve out a killer blow with the final kick – or not, as was the case – of the game deep into, yet more, added time. A flighted ball into the box was helped on by Brian Saah and Jones to Quigley who, with the goal at his mercy six yards out, conspired to strike fresh air.
The end of a tough week saw Woking remain in sixth place. Dover’s game at Altrincham was postponed – Storm Henry arriving in Cheshire four days after Woking’s visit! – allowing Tranmere to swap places (fifth and seventh) with the Kent club after a 2-1 win over Torquay United.
As for Barrow, their taskmaster of a boss, Paul Cox has certainly built a prototypically robust outfit, which must rank among the fittest seen at Kingfield this season. After taking four points against the Cards this term, Cox looks well set to keep the Bluebirds flying in the National League next season.
For Garry and the squad, attention turns back to FA Trophy action – with Cheltenham Town's (3-0) conquerors, Oxford City due at the Laithwaite Community Stadium next Saturday for a Third Round clash.
Woking: Jake Cole, Cameron Norman, Brian Saah, Joey Jones, Scott Griffiths (Jake Caprice 72), Mark Ricketts, Matt Robinson (Keiran Murtagh 69), Bruno Andrade (Alex Smith 69), John Goddard, Joe Quigley, Giuseppe Sole
Unused subs: Nick Hamann, Godfrey Poku
Goals: Goddard 22, Sole 45+9
Booking: Norman 66
Barrow AFC: Joel Dixon, Dave Symington, Danny Livesey, Simon Grand (c), Nick Wilmer-Anderton, Niall Cowperthwaite (David Mellor 33), Ashley Grimes (Andy Haworth 75), Dan Pilkington, Andy Parry, Andy Cook, Jordan Williams (Jason Walker 85)
Unused subs: Steve Williams, Alex-Ray Harvey
Goals: Griffiths (o.g.) 18, Cook 28
Bookings: Parry 45+10, Grand 47
Sponsor’s MOTM: John Goddard – back on the scoresheet and his trademark slaloming runs down the left wing kept the Barrow defence honest all day