Butcher's brace wasted after late Cards' cave-in

Malcolm Wyatt
9:44am, Sun 3rd Apr 2016
Southport 2 Woking 2
Vanarama National League
April 2nd 2016

While a draw from this clash of two struggling clubs might have seemed an optimistic outcome for Woking before kick-off, it was really a case of two points lost at Haig Avenue.

There were positives, not least two great goals from Bournemouth loanee Matt Butcher (pictured) and the way the visitors rode early pressure then built a healthy lead. But in the end it was the fragility of a team without a league win in 12 attempts over 12 long weeks that told.

Arguably the hosts – three points behind the Cards – had more to fight for, caretaker boss Andy Bishop going into this match on the back of a win and a draw since taking over from Dino Maamria. Yet the Surrey visitors’ inability to close out a game ultimately cost Garry Hill’s off-form outfit.

In the first real opening of note, the whistle blew as lively home striker Jonny Margetts looked to get the better of his marker in the goalmouth after Alex Whittle’s cross from the left, while as Woking countered Danny Carr, Jake Caprice and Matt Robinson combined on the right but struggled to find a way in.

Neither defence was really troubled as corners followed at each end, although the visitors started putting together a couple of useful moves, with Matt Robinson heavily involved and going close with a header after Keiran Murtagh’s lay-off following good work by Butcher then Alex Smith's cross.

Less assured moments followed for Woking, the Sandgrounders twice breaking through to cause problems and set the tone for the half, first spreading wide to Paul Rutherford on the left, the winger’s neatly-executed snap-shot turned over by a quick-thinking Jake Cole, the resultant corner successfully defended.

Another swift break involving the tricky Louis Almond and Margetts led to Cole having to parry Chris Arthur's powerful goal-bound intervention, the Cards again reacting well, closing ranks to defend the follow-up.

Arthur was quickly in more assured territory upfield, a fine run and cross almost letting Matt Robinson in again, home 'keeper Jon Viscosi just doing enough to foil him, while at the other end Cole was equal to home skipper Gary Jones' drilled finish.

As Port broke through again, Cole turned away for a sixth home corner after Almond's tricky cross-shot, the ‘old gold’ midfield time and again winning out and setting up further attacks as Woking struggled to adapt.

Somewhat against the run of play though, the visitors found themselves ahead in the 37th minute, Murtagh feeding Smith on the left, whose centre led to Matt Robinson teeing up Butcher, the Bournemouth loanee drilling home with his left peg from the edge of the goal area.

Margetts might have pegged the visitors straight back after an opening in the middle of the Cards’ goalmouth as Port sprang forward again, the visitors having to count on important interventions from Brian Saah then Joe Robinson to stay in front at the interval.

Half-time: Southport 0 Woking 1

Bruno Andrade replaced the injured Smith for the second half, and within two minutes of the restart Woking had doubled their lead, an Arthur throw-in from the left leading to Butcher adding to his tally, the midfielder turning his marker before lashing left-footed beyond Viscosi at the near-post.

Home boss Bishop soon made two changes of his own, ones that ultimately proved to be the key to turning around the hosts’ fortunes, attacking options Andy Wright and Craig Westcarr replacing Mike Phenix and Rutherford respectively, the duo increasingly at the heart of the action.

Butcher came close to his hat-trick with a shot from distance but this time Viscosi collected, while Cards sub Giuseppe Sole - adding a further dimension to the visitors’ front-line in Carr’s place for the last half-hour - fired home a third but the flag was raised for an infringement.

A spell of home pressure followed, Cole gathering at the second attempt from a Wright centre before Saah denied Westcarr, while a promising multi-pronged attack led to Wright ballooning a shot straight at Cole.

However, on 75 minutes Margetts halved the deficit after a calamitous mix-up between Cole and Joe Robinson following a drilled effort from Liam Nolan into a crowded penalty area, Cole unable to collect and the Tranmere loanee intercepting, making space then firing coolly into an empty net.

The same man might have soon levelled and the home crowd briefly thought he had, but Margetts instead found the side-netting after Wright's initial delivery caused further flutters.

With six minutes left Port were level, Woking failing to properly clear their lines after Almond's danger-ball – despite a half-clearance from Saah - and Westcarr was on hand in a crowded area to fire home an equaliser.

It still wasn’t over and both sides might have nicked it from there, Woking coming closest when sub Joey Jones - replacing Mark Ricketts for the last 12 minutes - threatened to grab a winner. But a flag was raised by the time the ball fell for Sole to his left.

And after four added minutes had been and gone - including another scramble in the visitors’ box after Andrai Jones’s throw-in - the Cards had to make do with a draw, when 20 minutes earlier they’d looked nailed on for that first elusive league win since January 9th’s success at Wrexham.

Southport: Jon Viscosi, Andrai Jones, Josh Thompson, Mark O'Brien, Alex Whittle, Mike Phenix (Andy Wright 49), Gary Jones (c), Liam Nolan, Paul Rutherford (Craig Westcarr 54), Louis Almond, Jonny Margetts

Unused subs: Max Crocombe, Adam Blakeman, Steven Hewitt.

Goals: Margetts 76, Westcarr 84

No bookings

Woking: Jake Cole, Jake Caprice, Chris Arthur, Mark Ricketts (Joey Jones 78), Brian Saah, Keiran Murtagh, Matt Robinson, Matt Butcher, Joe Robinson, Alex Smith (Bruno Andrade 46), Daniel Carr (Giuseppe Sole 60)

Unused subs: Nick Hamann, Cameron Norman.

Goals: Butcher 37, 47

Booking: Matt Butcher 64

Attendance: 825

My MOTM: Matt Butcher – two great finishes either side of half-time turned the game around, and with a little more luck the Bournemouth loanee might even have grabbed a hat-trick

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