Chesterfield 1 Woking 2
Vanarama National League
Tuesday 13th August 2019
Dave Tarpey’s sublime free-kick proved decisive as Woking continued their bright start to the National League season with a fantastic victory over promotion favourites Chesterfield at the Proact Stadium.
On a night which offered several positives, Ibrahim Meite opened the scoring just minutes into the second half, before Tarpey’s classy finish on the hour mark had the travelling faithful dreaming of all three points.
Scott Boden broke Woking’s stubborn resilience to halve the deficit in the dying minutes, but it wasn’t enough to prevent Alan Dowson’s men recording a memorable win.
Dowson made two changes to his starting xi - opting to go with a 4-5-1 formation for the Cards' first ever clash with Chesterfield as Moussa Diarra and Godfrey Poku made way in favour of Toby Edser and Tyreke Johnson, respectively.
Spireites chief John Sheridan made one enforced change to his line-up on the back of Saturday's draw at Boreham Wood with the suspended Laurence Maguire being replaced by Robbie Weir.
The visitors got proceedings underway on a lovely, pleasant summer evening in North Derbyshire, though Chesterfield created the first opportunity with Liam Mandeville's speculative shot-on-the-turn in the sixth minute being gathered quite comfortably by Craig Ross.
Despite the Spireites seeing more of the ball early on, Meite had a deflected effort hit the side-netting in Woking's first foray forward after 10 minutes.
Chesterfield then had the next chance midway through the first period. The lively Mandeville latched onto a long ball over the top and weaved inside from the left channel, but his subsequent attempt was wayward and straight at Boden who diverted the ball harmlessly over the woodwork.
The Spireites continued to press and Joe Rowley had a shot blocked by Ben Gerring, whilst Boden saw a low 25-yard effort saved by Ross in a separate move.
Sandwiched between those two attempts, Ibrahim Meite became the first player to be cautioned following a challenge on Will Evans midway inside the hosts' own half.
On 41 minutes, with most of the home crowd already frustrated, Woking went within a whisker of an opener as Johnson's dangerous cross towards the far-post just eluded a fully-stretched Jack Cook.
The Cards ended the half on top and just prior to one added minute, Chesterfield's Evans had to perfectly time his last-ditch challenge to prevent Meite from unleashing a shot away on goal.
Half-time: Chesterfield 0 Woking 0
Now attacking towards their own supporters, the hosts squandered a golden chance within three minutes of the re-start as Haydn Hollis' low ball into the box picked out an unmarked Boden who blazed over from a central position.
Jonathan Smith then fired harmlessly wide moments later as noise levels began to rise amongst home fans who sensed an opener might be close!
Nevertheless, Woking still looked strong on the counter-attack and would have gone ahead had anyone been able to connect when Meite flashed a ball across the six-yard box on 50 minutes following some terrific work on the byline.
Meite posed a constant threat and in the next attack, under a minute later, he bagged the opener to send the 97 travelling fans into raptures.
Johnson delivered a teasing ball towards the back-post area which caused panic in the Spireites' defence and it was knocked down by Cook before Meite somehow directed it past Shwan Jalal and into the empty net.
The goal stunned most folk inside the Proact Stadium into silence, and despite replacing Sam Wedgbury with Jack McKay in their first change, things soon got a whole lot worse for Sheridan's struggling side, but much better for Woking!
After Johnson was felled on the edge of the box by Jonathan Smith, who was cautioned as a result, Tarpey took charge with the subsequent set-piece and unleashed a sumptuous, curling, right-footed strike which floated over the wall and nestled beautifully in the top corner of Jalal's goal.
Dave Tarpey’s free kick curls towards the corner of Jalal’s goal; pic: David Holmes
The Cards were well on top by this stage and went close again as Johnson worked his way into the box but saw his low drive saved.
On 66 minutes, Chesterfield introduced Curtis Weston and Jay Sheridan in favour of Jonathan Smith and Robbie Weir, respectively, as they sought to breathe a new lease of life into their attempts to get back into the game.
Meanwhile, Meite was replaced by Jake Hyde at the same time in the Cards' first change.
The visitors continued to defend resolutely as the Spireites found chances hard to come by and when Mandeville let fly with a 25-yard drive on 73 minutes, Ross watched it all the way to make a routine stop.
A minute later, Dowson chose to shuffle his pack again as Paul Hodges replaced Tarpey, before Poku came on for Edser in the final 10 minutes.
Chesterfield continued to see more of the ball as the minutes ticked by, but struggled to create any meaningful openings and when Mandeville let fly with another long-range effort, it sailed harmlessly into the stand.
However, with five minutes remaining, Boden set-up a grandstand finale when he rose highest and nodded into an empty net from close-range after a fortuitous flick on from Rowley's set-piece fell kindly for him.
The Cards were camped in their own half as the fourth official indicated that there would be five nail-biting minutes of injury-time. Mandeville and Ross were both cautioned during added time, whilst the Cards' backline had to doggedly defend two corners in quick succession.
The final whistle was greeted with joyous celebrations in the visitors section and the whole team went over to share the successful nights work.
From the defensive resilience to the clinical finishing, this was a fine performance with a game-plan that was executed to absolute perfection.
With the Cards now third in the National League table, there's every reason to be positive ahead of Saturday's long trip north to AFC Fylde.
Craig Ross, Joshua Casey (c), Jack Cook, Immanuel Parry, Ben Gerring, Toby Edser (Godfrey Poku 83), Kane Ferdinand, Shaun Donnellan, Dave Tarpey (Paul Hodges 74), Tyreke Johnson, Ibrahim Meite (Jake Hyde 66).
Sam Howes, Nathan Collier.
Meite 52, Tarpey 60.
Meite 29, Johnson 85, Ross 90.
Shwan Jalal, David Buchanan, Josef Yarney, Will Evans, Joe Rowley, Liam Mandeville, Robbie Weir (Curtis Weston 66), Scott Boden, Sam Wedgbury (Jack McKay 56), Jonathan Smith (c) (Jay Sheridan 66), Haydn Hollis.
Luke Coddington, Charlie Wakefield.
Smith 59, Mandeville 90.
3,927 (97 away supporters).
Man of the Match: Dave Tarpey
. There were plenty of strong contenders, but his winning goal was of the highest quality.