Cards let lead slip again

Brian Caffarey
9:51am, Sun 27th Oct 2019
Woking 1 Eastleigh 1
Vanarama National League
26 October 2019

Dowse rang the changes, as he had threatened to do, for this fixture in an effort to end the Cards’ poor run of form which had seen them fail to win any of their previous eleven games. The visitors, in contrastingly fine recent form, looked the likelier side in the first half but Woking came to life after the break and, in spite of a long delay when the Spitfires’ Rob Atkinson was stretchered off, even took the lead through Jamar Loza in the extended extra time. But it was short-lived as – almost inevitably – the returning Scott Rendell glanced a header past Craig Ross to share the points.

On a miserably wet and windy afternoon Dowse made five changes to the side which had played so poorly in the FA Cup replay defeat against Ebbsfleet earlier in the week. In came new loan signing Glen Rea and Mark Shelton in midfield, with Loza starting up front, wide of Jake Hyde (pictured) in the middle and Dave Tarpey on the other flank. At the back Moussa Diarra returned in central defence after injury. Dropped to the bench were Kane Ferdinand, Jack Cook and Ibrahim Meite, with Toby Edser and Shaun Donnellan failing to make the sixteen, along with Manny Parry and Godfrey Poku.

The visitors quickly impressed with their controlled play, with Atkinson and Joe Partington distributing neatly from the back, the experienced Danny Hollands and Tom Bearwish retaining possession in midfield and Cavaghn Miley a constant threat down their left flank. Ross was called into action as early as the 4th minute after Miley, given too much room, chested down a floated pass and fired in an effort which the Cards’ stopper did well to block.

Although Max Kretzschmar, in an attacking midfield role, responded with a shot which the Spitfires’ Polish keeper, Max Stryjek, pushed round his near post, the visitors were soon threatening again down Woking’s right side, where Nathan Collier looked exposed at times.

On 12 minutes the Cards fashioned what was, in retrospect, perhaps their best chance of the half. Hyde chested the ball down with his back to goal but, as he tried to turn, went – or was brought? – down. His vociferous appeals for a penalty were waved away.

Eastleigh’s forward momentum was briefly interrupted by a fierce, blocked, effort from Rea as he latched onto a loose ball. At the other end, Seaman’s low cross was just too close to Ross, while Hollands let fly with a fine, curling effort from twenty-five yards which Ross helped over the bar.

By midway through the half the Cards were essentially playing on the break but Hyde was caught offside as Tarpey tried to put him clear, and quick counter-attacks by Loza and Kretzschmar also foundered in disappointing fashion.

Although Woking’s defence remained generally very solid, nerves and confidence weren’t helped by a badly misplaced Gerring back pass which gave away an unnecessary corner.

Some clever, quick Eastleigh interplay threatened to decisively breach the Woking backline but Hollands’ lack of pace saw him forced out wide.

Hyde and Tarpey combined well shortly afterwards, with the Eastleigh defence forced to backheel a cross to safety, before Loza, the main threat all afternoon, ran out of room as he tried to get round a defender on the byline. The home crowd’s hopes were also raised as Tarpey cleverly bought a free-kick just outside the area but his strike, though on target, produced a comfortable save for Stryjek.

Half-time: Woking 0 Eastleigh 0

Eastleigh’s dominance continued in the first few phases of play after the break, with Ross having to punch clear a dangerous Seaman cross. Suddenly, though, Woking seemed to step up a gear. Kretzschmar, who had hitherto found it difficult to make much headway, did well to nick the ball and unleash a superb strike against the crossbar.

This seemed to be the catalyst for a more even contest. Tarpey and Hyde threatened but some clever play at the other end saw Rendell shoot through a defender’s legs, with Ross gathering safely.

Woking attacked again with purpose. An excellent quick break down the left by Loza, hurdling an attempted tackle, saw him surge into the area and shoot. Stryjek did oustandingly well to block his effort as well as a sharp follow-up from Kretzshmar. But, after Ross was forced to foil another Eastleigh attack, the game was held up for 20 minutes after Atkinson went down in the Woking penalty area with what appeared to be a neck injury, eventually being stretchered off to a waiting ambulance.

When play resumed Woking went on the offensive again, Loza making another enterprising run and Rea hitting the side netting from the resulting free-kick. But Eastleigh responded immediately, Tyrone Barnett’s diving header from another Seaman cross going narrowly wide. Ross then had to tip a long Jack Payne ‘cross’ over the bar.

Dowse brought on Paul Hodges for Kretzschmar and his quick feet did seem to provide an added spark as he set up Loza for another run. As the 90-minute mark approached – but with over 20 minutes to play – Ferdinand came on for Rea, who had made a good impression on his debut.

Substitute Jack McKnight created a promising opportunity for the visitors as he cut inside but his right-footed strike flew wide. It proved a prelude, however, to Woking taking the lead. With the ball in the Eastleigh area, Hodges managed to smuggle it forward to Hyde, whose blocked shot fell invitingly to the onrushing Loza, who smashed it into the net.

But the lead lasted barely three minutes. Miley once again made progress down the left, curling in an inviting cross, which Rendell, stealing a few inches on the defence, deftly headed down and wide of Ross. He clearly enjoyed this riposte to those Woking fans who had barracked him throughout the match.

In a final throw of the dice Dowse brought on Meite for Tarpey but, unfortunately, the Crawley loanee made an impression only through two reckless passes in defensive positions.

As the game drew to a very belated close, it was Eastleigh who had the best chances to grab all three points as substitute Ben Williamson got the better of Diarra only to find the side netting – an outcome which Tyrone Barnett emulated shortly afterwards.

In most circumstances the point gained by Woking would have been a welcome result against a useful-looking Eastleigh side. And it was a much better performance, especially in the second half, than the dismal midweek display, with no lack of commitment. But it was obviously disappointing to let another lead slip.

Not surprisingly, perhaps, with so many changes, including a couple of new faces, the Cards looked a bit disjointed at times but there were promising signs from the midfield partnership of Rea and Shelton, with the latter growing into the game, always looking to get on the ball even if things did not always come off for him. The defence was generally very solid, though Collier looked short of cover. A worry still was that, apart from Loza’s runs, the front three did not greatly threaten, with Tarpey, in spite of some useful work on the right, never getting into a goalscoring position.

Woking will hope that they can build on an encouraging second half performance when they take on Notts County at home on Tuesday evening.

Woking: Craig Ross, Nathan Collier, Ben Gerring, Moussa Diarra, Josh Casey, Max Kretzschmar (Paul Hodges 85), Mark Shelton, Glen Rea (Kane Ferdinand 90), Dave Tarpey (Ibrahim Meite 90), Jake Hyde, Jamar Loza

Unused substitutes: Sam Howes, Jack Cook

Goal: Jamar Loza, 90

Eastleigh: Max Stryjek, Joe Partington, Rob Atkinson (Jack McKnight 77), Andrew Boyce, Jack Payne, Scott Rendell, Tyrone Barnett, Tom Bearwish (Ben Williamson 89), Cavaghn Miley, Danny Hollands, Charlie Seaman

Unused substitutes: Ross Flitney, Ben Scorey, Lewis Beale

Goal: Scott Rendell, 90

Booked: Rob Atkinson, Jack Payne

Sponsors’ (Consilium Financial Planning) MOTM: Jamar Loza

Attendance: 1910

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