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Heartbreak for Cards in late loss at Eastleigh

Ian Toft - 9th March 2016

Heartbreak for Cards in late loss at Eastleigh Eastleigh 2 Woking 1

March 8th 2016

Vanarama National League

Woking’s poor run of form continued with the cruellest of defeats at the Silverlake Stadium. Joey Jones’ accurate first half header gave the Cards great hope that their four game losing streak was coming to an end. However, a second half equaliser from Jai Reason and a last gasp injury time header from Will Evans meant that the Cards left Hampshire empty-handed.

The Cards had capitalised on the early dismissal of Spitfires’ captain Paul Reid by taking the lead midway through the first half. Joey Jones escaped his marker from a corner to accurately head low into the corner.

Despite the second half loss of Keiran Murtagh for a second bookable offence, the Cards would have hoped to hold onto their lead until Reason’s skilful equaliser levelled the scores with twenty minutes to play. Some excellent goalkeeping from Jake Cole suggested that a draw was likely until Evans snatched the winner for Eastleigh with the last play of the game.

The result sees Woking fall to 12th and they now find themselves having sustained five straight league defeats. On Saturday the team travel to league leaders Cheltenham in what appears to be one of the most difficult games of the season.

Having suffered a disappointing defeat last weekend at home to Dover, Garry Hill made two changes to his team. Godfrey Poku returned to the midfield after remaining on the bench against Dover. Giuseppe Sole resumed duties in the forward line to partner Daniel Carr, the Cambridge United loanee who had made his Cards debut on Saturday.

On a heavy damp pitch under consistent rainfall Woking, in all yellow, attacked the North End of the ground in the first half. The elements and an inconsistent pitch meant that neither side were able to create much in the early exchanges. This was not helped by a five-minute stoppage in play whilst repairs were undertaken to one of the goal frameworks just three minutes into the game.

Once the game began to settle, it was Eastleigh who would ask the first questions of their opponents. A deep ball into the Cards defensive area led to a goal mouth scramble with Cameron Norman, acting as the last defender, able to hook the ball clear.

Cole had to be at his best soon after as he spread himself brilliantly to deny James Constable after his free header from Reason’s cross looked certain to hit the net.

However, in the 18th minute the Cards were dealt an unexpected advantage when referee John Busby adjudged Spitfires captain Paul Reid worthy of a red card for an of-the-ball incident, apparently involving Mark Ricketts, whilst the Cards had been preparing to take a free kick. The resulting play from Matt Butcher was powerfully struck but flew over the centre of the crossbar.

With their numerical advantage, Woking now began to stake a presence in the game. A perfectly weighted cross from Goddard out wide fell appealingly for Carr but his effort narrowly rose over the bar.

The Cards’ good work would soon pay off. In the 25th minute, a Sole corner was hit high into the centre of the box. Clever movement by Jones enabled him to escape his marker and perfectly connect with the cross to accurately head low into the corner of the net giving the Cards a welcome lead.

As Eastleigh looked to readjust into the game, the Cards were nearly undone by fast thinking from Reason. Former Cards’ loanee Yemi Odubade was set free from a quickly taken free kick somewhat catching the Cards defence off guard. His powerful low shot took a slight deflection off Norman to slip into the side netting.

Woking also had one more chance of note to round off the first half. Keiran Murtagh clipped a well- weighted pass through the middle into the path of Carr who found himself clean through. Unfortunately, he failed to take control of the ball and it was collected by the grateful arms of Ross Flitney in the Eastleigh goal.

A needless booking for Murtagh for kicking the ball away rounded off the half.

Half-time: Eastleigh 0-1 Woking

Now attacking their own supporters in the Silverlake Stand, Woking found themselves immediately on the back foot as the home side took the initiative after the interval. It appeared evident that the Spitfires had made valuable use of the half-time break and came out looking more organised than they had ended the first half.

Reason got the better of Ricketts in a well-contested duel and was able to play in Constable through the centre. His hopes of being sent clean through were only thwarted by the linesman’s flag. It was a warning to the Cards of the pressure they would need to withstand as the half progressed.

Shortly afterwards, a Reason free kick midway into Woking’s half passed through a body of players and found its way to Evans but the defender’s headed effort rebounded off the post.

Woking’s numerical advantage disappeared in the 60th minute. A late tackle from Murtagh on the edge of his own penalty area gave referee Busby no hesitation in issuing a second yellow card. With the game now at 10 versus 10, Eastleigh pushed further forward. The resulting free kick from Reason deflected off Sole over the bar and Joe Partington then headed over from the resulting corner.

Eastleigh were not to be denied, however, and in the 68th minute a Lee Cook cross found its way through to Reason with his back to goal. Allowed the space to control the ball, he was able to lift it over his shoulder and lob over the fully stretched arms of Cole to equalise.

In the closing stages Eastleigh had plenty of possession, but with the clock running down the Cards were gaining in confidence that they could still collect a valuable point. Joe Quigley, who had earlier replaced Daniel Carr, was able to meet a Butcher corner in a dangerous position. Despite the opportunity, he could not redirect the ball towards goal.

Eastleigh made one last push for the points by sending on Jack Midson for Odubade and he immediately showed his influence by controlling a long ball from Cook and heading down for Constable. However, the ex-Oxford striker was unable to keep his shot down.

Deep into injury time, Midson again broke clear and squared for Constable, who on this occasion had time to control the ball and compose himself. His shot was powerfully hit but Cole made himself big and was able to instinctively save one-handed at point blank range for what was undoubtedly the save of the game.

Having survived a series of attacks late in the game, the Cards could be forgiven for thinking that they had earned a well-deserved point for their efforts. However, with the next, and what was to be last play of the game, it was cruelly snatched away. A long floated corner was missed by all and, escaping the pack, Evans emerged to head home at the far post.

Understandably deflated after conceding such a late goal, the Cards kicked off only for the referee to blow for full time a few short seconds later. The delight expressed by the home fans mirrored the desperate disappointment of the travelling Cards' supporters.

Woking now have four days to recover and prepare for the tough trip to Gloucestershire. They will hope to be luckier then than they were this evening.

Woking: Jake Cole, Mark Ricketts (c), Joey Jones, Keiran Murtagh, Giuseppe Sole (Jake Caprice 61), John Goddard, Godfrey Poku, Daniel Carr (Joe Quigley 50), Cameron Norman, Joe Robinson, Matt Butcher

Unused subs: Alex Smith, Andrew Mills, Nick Hamann

Goal: Joey Jones (25)

Booked: Keiran Murtagh (45), John Goddard (65)

Sent Off: Keiran Murtagh (60)

Eastleigh: Ross Flitney, Joe Partington, Will Evans, Paul Reid, Yemi Odubade (Jack Midson 86), Josh Payne, James Constable, Jai Reason, Lee Cook, Dan Harding, Luke Coulson

Unused subs: Michael Poke, Michael Green, Chris Todd, Tom Holland

Goals: Jai Reason (68), Will Evans (90)

Sent Off: Paul Reid (18)

My MOTM: Jake Cole – a string of incredible saves throughout the game appeared to give the Cards hope that they could take something back to Surrey. Though there was nothing he could do to prevent either goal, his confident handling and quick reflexes ensured that Woking were in the game until the very end.

Attendance: 1,630
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