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Battling Woking fall to defeat against Tranmere Rovers

Haydn Cobb
12:00am, Tue 31st Jan 2017
Woking 0 Tranmere Rovers 3
Vanarama National League
31st January 2017

A spirited Woking fell to Tranmere Rovers and failed to put an extra space between themselves and the relegation zone in the Vanarama National League.

In a rescheduled match after the original fixture was postponed by a frozen pitch, Woking battled without reward as key chances went begging in the opening 45 minutes.

The travelling Rovers side were able to pick their moments with two quick-fire goals from Andy Cook and Ben Tollitt at the start of the second half followed by a third and second of the game for Tollitt to kill the game for Woking.

Woking remain 19th in the league, two places and one point above the drop zone, with a key fixture at the weekend against Solihull Moors at the Laithwaite Community Stadium.

Garry Hill made two enforced changes to his starting line-up from the victory away at Eastleigh with the suspended Dennon Lewis replaced by Jake Caprice and Ismail Yakubu deputising for the injured Brain Saah.

With Woking playing their game in hand over the majority of their rivals, after this fixture was postponed by a frozen pitch 10 days ago, any points would have been a vital boost against promotion chasers Tranmere Rovers.

On a rain-soaked Kingfield pitch, Woking had the first clear-cut chance of the match with Fabio Saraiva’s low cross bobbling between the Rovers defenders that fell kindly to Gozie Ugwu but he lashed his effort over the bar.

Midfield maestro Keiran Murtagh had a positive start to the game disrupting Tranmere’s flow and a quick through ball to Ugwu caught the away side’s defence napping, leaving right back Lee Vaughan to cynically bring the forward down.

Saraiva’s resulting free-kick deflected wide but the youngster’s corner found Joey Jones at the back post but his header was snuffed out by a wall of green shirts. Despite the contrasting league placings between the two sides Woking demonstrated how back-to-back wins had given the side a timely confidence boost.

The recalled Caprice was giving Woking the most joy, flying down the right flank and linking well with new signing Macauley Bonne, but the forward was unable to keep a powerful header down.

10 minutes before halftime Woking went inches away from the opening goal when Murtagh spread wide to Caprice and his devilish cross darted between defence and goalkeeper by Bonne’s outstretched foot couldn’t connect to poke it towards the goal.

It was proving a hellish half for Tranmere’s left back Liam Ridehalgh who once again was turned inside out, this time by Murtagh, but his cross narrowly evaded Carter from Ugwu’s nod back across the six-yard box.

Even though Woking had the majority of the chances, the Cards were warned of the threat Tranmere holds when Murtagh was dispossessed on the halfway line and a quick breakaway was wasted by James Norwood who blasted over from 10 yards out.

Halftime: Woking 0 Tranmere Rovers 0

The second half started in a similar vein to the first with the two sides trading chances but it was the traveling side who took the lead after smart work by Tollitt to carve down the inside right flank before cutting back to Cook for his 13th goal of the season.

Woking’s task was made doubly difficult two minutes later when Tollitt scored Tranmere’s second with a powerful low effort on the edge of the box which nestled into the bottom left-hand corner past Michael Poke.

The quick double took the momentum out of Woking as they found themselves trailing despite playing positively and creating chances. The Cards continued to produce impressive attacking football which should please manager Hill, albeit without creating clear-cut chances, but with a two-goal lead Tranmere were content to defend in numbers and counter attack.

With Woking pushing to get back into the match Tranmere’s third duly came with Tollitt charging with the ball half the length of the pitch and dispatched a low finish past Poke for his second of the game.

A spirited Woking continued to battle forward in search of a goal as hopes for a point faded on a night the home side were left ruing their early chances while still level.

Woking: Michael Poke; Jake Caprice, Terell Thomas, Ismail Yakubu, Joey Jones, Fabio Saraiva, Keiran Murtagh (Connor Hall 75), Charlie Carter (Max Kretzschmar 62), Kane Ferdinand, Macauley Bonne (Chris Arthur 75), Gozie Ugwu

Unused subs: Brandon Hall, Luke Kandi

Bookings: Yakubu, Saraiva

Tranmere Rovers: Scott Davies, Lois Maynard, Steve McNulty, Michael Ihiekwe, Lee Vaughan, James Wallace (Jay Harris 58), Jeff Harris, Ben Tollitt, Liam Ridehalgh, James Norwood (Jake Kirby 77), Andy Cook (Cole Stockton 80)

Unused subs: Ian Turner, Andy Mangan

Goals: Cook (52), Tollitt (54, 77)
Bookings: Vaughan

Referee: Carl Brook

Sponsors’ MOTM: Jake Caprice

Attendance: 816

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