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Torquay Turn Screws On Woking

Ray Avards
12:00am, Mon 2nd Apr 2018
Torquay United 2 Woking 1
Vanarama National League
2nd April 2018

The Cards having failed to win in eight in the league, faced this vital away game at an already doomed–looking Torquay on the Devon Riviera, with mounting pressure upon them. They were to be undone by defensive error and indifference in midfield and attack yet again, despite recovering from an early set back to level at one all.

Anthony Limbrick retained the same starting line up from Good Friday’s desperate home defeat to the league leaders in the 95th minute. Home captain McGinty earned an early yellow card for sliding in on a right wing raid by Carter, in an obvious intent to make a physical mark on the game, through an opponent, early on.

In a moment of encouragement, Anthony Cook had a sudden chance on the edge of the area as the ball sat up and he half-volleyed a yard wide of the left hand post.

Ramsey stopped Connor Lemonheigh-Evans run down the right. But the ball came back down the right as the Cards failed to keep hold of it in midfield.

The resultant corner exposed the frailty at the heart of the Woking defence as Joey Jones went up at the back post, was bundled in the back, but put both hands up basketball style to give Referee Quelch the opportunity to award a penalty. Williams sent Baxter the wrong way and gestured at the Woking fans to celebrate.

Woking sought a response but Anthony Cook’s cross from the right drifted out. Then Regan Charles-Cook refused to be beaten and charged down the ball on the halfway line, which bounced kindly to set him racing away and clear. With Jerol to beat he chose to thread it between the keeper’s legs and failed, when Reece Grego-Cox seemed on hand with the goal gaping. A vital open goal chance went begging.

A training ground move saw Chez Isaac’s free kick from the halfway land on Ramsey’s head six yards out, wide of the goal area, but he could only head into the hands of Dorel.

Torquay took the initiative back and after Lemonheigh-Evans was again held up by Ramsey, worked the ball inside for left back Liam Davis to screw tamely wide from the edge of the area.

On 36 minutes a first yellow card for Woking, as Isaac held his man back to prevent a left wing break. Another Gulls’ attack building, saw Josh Staunton slide in to give away a corner. The corner was worked back and Cook conceded a free kick in a dangerous position. It was hammered into the wall by Young and after it broke to the other side of the box, McGinty tried his luck to hurry Baxter into covering his shot into the side netting . The reality for Woking, their opponents were sharper in thought, deed and physical determination.

Brett Williams fired from distance, well over goal, but then found sufficient room from a routine cross into the area with space to head over an advancing Baxter, caught in no man’s land. The ball sailed over the bar too, a huge let off for Woking.

Aaron Barnes tried to go round Ramsey but ran the ball out. Davis shot well wide again from a forward position for the home side, after Charles-Cook had arguably been caught late in the tackle, a recurring theme, as Torquay sought to out-muscle one of the few creative players of the visitors.
Louis Ramsey contrived to put two throws straight out on the left touchline, bowing to the vocal home support putting pressure upon him, it seemed. It was hardly encouraging for the second half.

Half-time: Torquay United 1 Woking 0

Woking sought to begin the second half on the front foot, but having forced a free kick out on the right it was disappointing, being hoisted high by Isaac for a goal kick.

Anthony Cook turned into space off his right wing and shot left footed straight into the midriff of Dorel. Cook earned a lecture off referee Quelch, when he could not get on a pass from his brother Regan, that was just too short, on the counter attack. Then the two of them did combine superbly for Anthony’s swinging cross to be side footed just wide on the full stretch by Regan, at the far post, with the keeper beaten. Torquay responded with a Luke Young shot cleared away by Baxter’s dive for a corner.

On the hour Louie Theophanous came on for Isaac, in an attacking move, but also created fears for midfield balance, Charlie Carter having to drop back into that role. The substitute striker did create more of a presence for Grego-Cox to combine with but had little joy himself.

Soon United made inroads down the left and Healey was through one on one for Baxter to save with his chest. They had sensed the momentum swing back to them and threw on incoming player Jamie Reid for Williams. A right wing break saw Josh Staunton flash the ball narrowly over or round his own goal to concede a corner.

The defender is a positive player though. He punted forward with enough dip to set young Grego-Cox free in a gaping hole in Torquay’s back line. Dorel’s vain rush off his line was not enough to prevent the Cards’ man chipping round him into an empty net, for 1-1.

Sadly and all too predictably on the day, the home side simply upped their game. When the young Cards’ side were caught napping by a short corner just three short minutes later, Young was played into an inviting position for him and his ability, outside the area. Not closed down nearly quickly enough he arrowed the ball into Baxter’s top right hand corner for the goal and winner of the game.

Woking did respond with another looping ball in for their strikers to connect and an almighty scrimmage around the penalty post resulted, with at least three chances to score blocked before Torquay hacked clear. A reminder of how vulnerable the home side are, but Woking unable to make it count.

Carter impeded his man and was booked in stopping a counter attack in right midfield and United raided down the left next for Baxter to make another scrambling save at his near post for a another corner conceded. At the other end RCC turned neatly and shot straight at Dorel.

A Jones error left Barnes with a clear shooting chance and he blazed over. Ramsey ‘s foot in on halfway was too much for Quelch , who booked him on 77 minutes and Wynter’s free kick was back-headed over by Theophanous from a very difficult position.

Jason Banton arrived for Ramsey with little difference to Woking’s fortunes, Young was yellow-carded for Torquay. Baxter got exposed again in a left wing manoeuvre, but Barnes was thankfully off-side.

The Cards, to their credit in stubbornness if nothing else, then saw three cleared of the line in a minute as first left back Davis somehow cut out Theophanous, to screw the ball high over his own cross bar from practically under it and Joey Jones seemed to be denied twice from resulting corners by full backs at their goal posts.

In stoppage time Cook saw a skimming shot narrowly tipped round his post at full stretch by Dorel. Jones was hauled over as well as the Torquay card count also mounted. It had been a desperately disappointing and threadbare performance by a Woking side whose inexperience is stark. A test of the strengths of each side was also on the bench with Jon-Paul Pittman and Yan Klukowski not used by the home side.

This game away to relegation haunted Torquay United provided a true test of how far the Cards have fallen away. Below them Solihull Borough’s game at Tranmere Rovers was postponed due to the weather and Barrow had no game , but have three in hand on the Cards.

With this defeat and the manner of it, it is difficult to see how they can avoid the drop if they get caught by any of the bottom four, as on this sorry showing it looks inevitable, with the mere cushion of 3 points. No sign of the vital wins and change in form, tactics, team or players, needed now and which seems a world away.

Dagenham away is next up next Saturday but Woking have mustered just one point in 7 away days/evenings in 2018, albeit they should have won at Gateshead, instead of the point they got.

Torquay United: Vincent Dorel, Aaron Barnes, Conrad Balotoni, Sean McGinty (c), Liam Davis, Connor Lemonheigh-Evans , Luke Young, Elliott Romain, Josh Gowling, Rhys Healey, Brett Williams (Jamie Reid 61).

Unused substitutes: Ryan Clarke, Michee Efete, Yan Klukowski , Jon-Paul Pittman

Goals: Williams 16 pen, Lemonheigh-Evans 68

Booked: McGinty, Young, Barnes.

Woking: Nathan Baxter, Jordan Wynter, Joey Jones, Josh Staunton, Louis Ramsey, (Jason Banton 81), Kane Ferdinand, Chez Isaac, (Louie Theophanous 60), Anthony Cook, Charlie Carter, Regan Charles-Cook, Reece Grego-Cox.

Unused substitutes: Sam Mason, Matt Young, Fabio Saraiva.

Goal: Reece Grego-Cox 65

Booked: Chez Isaac, Charlie Carter, Louis Ramsey.

Referee: Adrian Quelch

Attendance: 1,837

My Woking MOTM: Nathan Baxter. As if ever a goalkeeper deserved a defensive shield it is this young man for his heroics again in the second half, to try to keep Woking alive.

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