Woking rally for gutsy victory over Eastleigh

Haydn Cobb
12:00am, Tue 15th Aug 2017
Woking 2 Eastleigh 1
Vanarama National League
15th August 2017

Woking held on for a second victory of the Vanarama National League season to maintain a perfect home record after seeing off a strong Eastleigh side thanks to an Inih Effiong strike and an own goal by Gavin Hoyte, while Nathan Baxter saved a penalty to secure the points for Anthony Limbrick’s team.

After riding out a dangerous start by Eastleigh, who hit the woodwork twice in the opening half hour, a goal just before halftime from Effiong gave Woking a much-needed lead which was doubled early in the second half as Hoyte diverted an Effiong cross into his own net.

But the Spitfires produced a fierce fightback with two penalties in two minutes, the first one from Ben Williamson saved well by goalkeeper Baxter, but the Chelsea loanee was powerless to stop the second taken by Ayo Obileye.

Despite both teams hunting further goals, Woking saw out a late Eastleigh assault on Baxter’s goal to clinch a second victory from the opening four games of Anthony Limbrick’s Woking career to move the Cards 12th in the early league standings.

New boss Limbrick made three changes from the defeat away at Barrow on the weekend with Chez Isaac installed into the midfield for the injured Joey Jones, while Joe Ward and Jamie Philpot replaced Charlie Carter and Jordan Wynter in the starting line-up.

Despite making a positive start in front of the home crowd, it was Eastleigh who went closest to breaking the deadlock early with Williamson striking the post inside the opening ten minutes. Woking struggled to clear a free-kick which saw the ball drop to Chris Zebroski who nodded Williamson into space in the penalty area and the striker’s fizzing effort clipped the outside of Baxter’s post.

Woking maintained composure against an early barrage of Eastleigh crosses and when the Cards were in possession moved the ball swiftly between defence and attack to pose their own questions to the Spitfires backline.

After a quarter of an hour, Philpot broke the Eastleigh offside trap and dinked the ball over the onrushing Ross Flitney, but defender Andrew Boyce was able to nip back and produce a goal-line clearance.

At the half-hour mark Eastleigh missed a golden opportunity to take the lead when Mark Yeates latched on to a misplaced pass in the midfield to see Eastleigh work the ball quickly to release Zebroski one-on-one with Baxter but the Chelsea loanee goalkeeper stood firm to make an impressive save which was partially cleared by Kane Ferdinand.

Eastleigh continued to apply the pressure before the interval with Andrew Boyce hitting the crossbar with a header after smart work by Yeates on the left wing. The Cards weathered the storm and finished the half strongly with Ward producing a fierce low effort which Flitney could only block out for a corner.

Woking made the most of the late attack with Jamie Philpot breaking clear on the left wing to deliver a low cross to Effiong who controlled it before turning his marker and firing hard and low past Flitney.

Halftime score: Woking 1 Eastleigh 0

Once again Woking started the half on the front foot as Philpot looked to have broken free from Eastleigh defender Callum Howe who tugged back the Woking attacker, who tumbled to the ground but his calls for a penalty were waved away by referee Richard Hulme.

Woking were rewarded for their persistence on the 53rd minute when Effiong bullied his way from the right flank to deliver a tempting low cross which Gavin Hoyte could only divert into his own net, taking it off the foot of the waiting Bobson Bawling.

Eastleigh boss Richard Hill rang the changes aiming to overturn the two-goal deficit and the travelling side were awarded their first lifeline when Isaac was judged to have handled the ball from a corner. Williamson, who had scored three goals in the opening three games for Eastleigh, stepped up but his tame low effort was saved by to the goalkeeper’s left.

But that joy was short-lived as the Spitfires were given a second penalty in the space of two minutes when Josh Staunton was judged to have taken down Yeates. The decision sparked fury from the Woking defence and in a melee Staunton and Baxter for Woking and Yeates for Eastleigh were all booked. Eastleigh substitute Ayo Obileye took over penalty duties from Williamson and duly slotted the ball low to Baxter’s right.

With a frantic final 20 minutes set up, both sides continued to press for more goals which stretched the match. Woking’s Ward had two very good efforts, the second a sweet right foot volley which was blocked, while Effiong saw a powerful header saved at full stretch by Flitney.

Eastleigh also continued to threaten as quick feet by Williamson produced a snapshot which was snuffed out by Staunton. With five minutes of additional time to play, Woking reverted to counting down the clock by clearing the ball at every opportunity.

A match-winning sliding challenge from Isaac on Yeates in the final seconds denied Eastleigh with their final attack of the match and ensured Woking would claim their second victory of the season in front of a terrific and noisy Woking crowd.

Woking: Nathan Baxter, Louis Ramsey (Matt Young 82), Richard Orlu (c), Josh Staunton, Nathan Ralph; Kane Ferdinand, Chez Isaac, Joe Ward, Bobson Bawling; Jamie Philpot (Charlie Carter 72), Inih Effiong

Unused subs: Sam Mason, Ivan Nsimbi, Jordan Wynter

Goals: Effiong 44, Hoyte OG 53

Bookings: Isaac 66, Staunton 67, Baxter 67

Eastleigh: Ross Flitney, Gavin Hoyte, Michael Green, Sam Togwell, Sam Wood (Sam Mathews 45); Mark Yeates, Danny Hollands (Ayo Obileye 63), Andrew Boyce, Callum Howe; Chris Zebroski (Craig McAllister 59), Ben Williamson

Unused subs: James Constable, Cavaghn Miley

Goals: Obileye PEN 68

Bookings: Hollands 31, Yeates 67

Referee: Richard Hulme

Sponsors’ MOTM: Joe Ward – a constant thorn in Eastleigh’s defence and key to Woking’s positive attack play.

Attendance: 1802 (154 away fans)

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