Cards denied by late Gulls swoop
12:00am, Sat 29th Sep 2018
Torquay United 2 Woking 2
Vanarama National League South
29th September 2018
Woking almost pulled off what would perhaps be the biggest three points of the season, but their hearts were shattered by a late double from Torquay’s Jamie Reid.
Having been comfortably in control in the first 45 minutes thanks to strikes from Max Kretzschmar and Jake Hyde, they played most of the second period in their own half with the hosts missing chance after chance until Reid’s intervention. To call this a promotion six-pointer would be stretching the definition, but on this evidence both sides will be expected to challenge for honours at the end of the season.
Alan Dowson rung the changes, bringing in new signing Craig Ross, signed from Leatherhead in the week, for Berti Schotterl.
Kane Ferdinand and Jake Hyde were also restored to the side in place of Armani Little and Harvey Bradbury who picked up knocks in the week, while Christian Jolley missed out with a long-term injury. The only change Torquay’s new boss Gary Johnson made was swapping No.1 Alex Bass for Shaun MacDonald.
The last time these two sides met was in the Vanarama National League last season when Torquay came out on top 2-1, leading to Anthony Limbrick’s departure after a nine-game winless streak. Both teams were relegated with Torquay finishing third bottom, six points below Woking, who went down after a last day 2-1 home defeat to Dover Athletic.
The Cards came into the game on the back of a 4-0 victory over Tooting & Mitcham United in the FA Cup second qualifying round. But they had failed to win their last two league games, being denied by a last-gasp equaliser from Concord Rangers and a shock home reverse to newly-promoted Dulwich Hamlet – only their second loss of the season.
By contrast Torquay have enjoyed a revival under Johnson, the former Cheltenham and Bristol City boss, beating Hungerford Town 2-0 before thrashing minnows Lymington Town 7-0 in the FA Cup. Despite their mid-table position, the hosts had only conceded four goals all season – the league’s best defensive record.
Johnson has been quick to move in the transfer market, bringing in defender Jamie Sendles White from National League South rivals St Albans City and signing striker Saikou Janneh from Bristol City on loan.
On a perfect autumn day on a pristine pitch, the game burst into life in the sixth minute when Jack Cook played a cross-field ball to Greg Luer on the right wing but he was brought down in full flight by Liam Davis who was booked for his troubles.
Skipper Josh Casey floated in the resulting free-kick to Hyde who sent in a looping header that hit the crossbar with the keeper beaten. Then in the 13th minute Hyde played in the lively Luer who fired an enticing ball across the penalty area but no one could get on the end of it.
On 21 minutes Kretzschmar fired in a free-kick from a central position but Ferdinand headed over.
Three minutes later Kretzschmar chose to go it alone from the set piece in a similar area, beating the keeper with a shot into the right corner, prompting the chant of ‘We are top of the league’ from the away end.
The balance of play shifted on 27 minutes when Jake Andrews hung a ball from the left up to the back post but Ruairi Keating put a free header wide.
Woking doubled their lead on 38 minutes as Kretzschmar picked out Hyde who controlled the ball and drilled it into the right hand corner.
Johnson had seen enough and made wholesale changes two minutes before the break, bringing on Connor Lemonheigh-Evans, signed on loan from Bristol City a day earlier, for Chris Regis, and Janneh for Keating.
On the stroke of half-time Davis sent in an inviting cross from the left that Jamie Reid and Opi Edwards both conspired to miss.
Half-time: Torquay United 0 Woking 2
The second half started at the same pace as the first with Andrews sending in a corner that captain Asa Hall headed just wide a minute after the restart.
A minute later the ball fell to Janneh on the edge of the box but he blazed over.
In the 51st minute Reid put Janneh, who was causing all sort of problems, through after Woking’s two centre backs failed to clear but he fired inches over.
Reggie Young then came on for Nicky Wheeler on 58 minutes as Woking tried to take the pressure off their back line.
A minute later Reid hung up a ball to the back post but Janneh headed wide with only the keeper to beat.
With 15 minutes to go Johnson went for a last throw of the dice, bringing on former Woking striker Brett Williams for Ben Wynter.
Dowson responded by replacing Hyde with ex-Torquay front man Duane Ofori-Acheampong on 77 minutes.
On 79 minutes Reid gave Torquay hope, picking himself up after falling to the floor in the penalty area to tuck the ball into the bottom left corner to set up a nervous last 10 minutes.
Reid doubled his tally in the 85th after rounding Ross and finishing from a tight angle to level as the home fans found their voice.
Torquay finished the stronger with Woking holding on for a point as they moved down to second with Billericay Town going top on goal difference after a 2-0 win at Hampton & Richmond.
The Cards would have been happy with a point before the game but can only see this as two points lost having gone in 2-0 up at half-time. Next up the Cards take on Kempston Rovers at Kingfield in the FA Cup this coming Saturday.
Woking: 1 Craig Ross, 2 Dan Spence, 3 Josh Casey (c), 4 Jack Cook, 5 Ian Gayle, 6 Nathan Collier, 7 Greg Luer, 8 Kane Ferdinand, 9 Jake Hyde (12 Duane Ofori-Acheampong 77’), 10 Max Kretzschmar, 11 Nicky Wheeler (15 Reggie Young 58’)
Unused subs: Paul Hodges, Kiran Khinda-John, Berti Schotterl
Goals: Max Kretzschmar 24’, Jake Hyde 38’
Bookings: Jack Cook 7’, Craig Ross 71’
Torquay United 1 Alex Bass, 2 Ben Wynter (9 Brett Williams 75’), 3 Liam Davis, 6 Jamie Sendles-White, 7 Ruairi Keating (23 Saikou Janneh 43’), 8 Asa Hall (c), 17 Kyle Cameron, 18 Jake Andrews, 19 Jamie Reid, 20 Chris Regis (22 Connor Lemonheigh-Evans 43’), 21 Opi Edwards
Unused subs: Shaun MacDonald, Jean-Yves Koue Niate
Goals: Jamie Reid 79’, 85’
Bookings: Liam Davis 7’, Asa Hall 24’
Referee: Jacob Miles
Man of the Match: Jake Hyde, a stunning strike on his return to the starting line up, he was a constant thorn in Torquay’s defence until he tired late on