Courageous Cards get deserved 3 points

Liam O'Sullivan
12:00am, Sat 7th Dec 2019
Woking 2 Hartlepool United 1
Vanarama National League
7th December 2019

Woking returned to the Laithwaite Community Stadium in the National League, to face a mid-table but in-form Hartlepool United. The visitors came into the game unbeaten in their last five games, scoring 15 goals in the process. Two of these came from their recent 2-2 FA Cup away draw with League 2 Exeter City.

The two sides already met this season in September, where a then top of the table Woking were unfortunate to not get all three points in a televised 1-1 draw at Victoria Park.

Woking made 3 changes from their 1-0 away defeat in the league to Boreham Wood last Saturday, as they were without Jamar Loza (suspended), Moussa Diarra (injured) and Glen Rea (returned to Luton at end of loan), meaning Nathan Collier, Kane Ferdinand and Godfrey Poku came into the side. Hartlepool on the other hand were understandably unchanged from their impressive 2-2 cup draw against the League 2 playoff-placed side.

Woking fell behind in the first half to a Gime Toure penalty, and were controversially denied a Kane Ferdinand equaliser on the stroke of half time by the linesman’s flag. Nonetheless, Woking showed great spirit in the second half, and likely goal-scorers Jake Hyde and Dave Tarpey both found the net to merit a brilliant 2-1 win.

The opening 15 minutes of the game saw little action in front of goal for both teams. Hartlepool looked the most likely to score in the opening stages, controlling possession and limiting Woking from playing passing football. An edge-of-the-box thunder strike from Gus Mafuta was bravely blocked by Shaun Donnellan, preventing a Hartlepool goal that would’ve warranted their positive start to the game.

Woking tried to respond to Hartlepool’s frantic start through a Max Kretzschmar long range curler, but his ambitious effort was high and wide of the goal. This shot reflected Woking’s struggles in the opening 20 minutes.

In the 24th minute, the creative Josh Hawkes played an exquisite through ball for the rapid Luke James, knowing his teammate would give Jack Cook trouble in a race for the ball. James managed to beat Cook, getting in front of him for a one-on-one chance. However, Cook was far too close to the forward as he entered the 18-yard box, and caused James to lose his balance after clear contact was made, giving referee Tom Reeves no option but to point to the spot.

Gime Toure stepped up, who came into the game with 4 goals to his name in his last 5 appearances, 2 of which were penalties. Hartlepool’s top goal scorer found the net for the 11th time this season, firing it down the middle of the goal and beating the helpless Ross who dived to his right.

Following the Monkey Hangers’ opener, Woking saw plenty of possession, but little opportunities to get an equaliser. The hosts’ first goal scoring opportunity came just over 5 minutes before half time, when skipper Josh Casey floated a cross into a very dangerous area on the edge of the six-yard box. An incoming Jack Cook looked to make up for his earlier foul and threw himself towards the ball, but couldn’t get enough height in his jump to head it home, and instead narrowly fired his header over the bar.

Inside stoppage time, another Casey cross caused problems for Hartlepool’s defence from a deep free kick. Woking’s captain took the set piece delightfully, and the ball found itself in the heart of the penalty area. Kane Ferdinand met the ball powerfully with his head, thundering the ball past Ben Killip. To his despair however, his goal was very questionably disallowed for offside, with a late flag from the linesman denying Woking a crucial equaliser.

Half-time: Woking 0 Hartlepool United 1

The opening 15 minutes of the second half were almost reminiscent of the opening third of the first half; Hartlepool continued to suffocate Woking when in possession, and looked dangerous going forward.

A succession of chances for the visitors 10 minutes into the second half reflected this promising spell for Hartlepool. One of these was as a result of a poor defensive header from Ferdinand from a teasing cross, falling kindly to goal-scorer Toure, but his strike was fantastically and importantly blocked by Ferdinand.

Woking continued to show fearlessness at the back minutes after, when two power strikes from full back Mark Kitching in an inviting area on the edge of the box, were bravely blocked again by red and white shirts. This was perhaps an indicator of the resilience of this Woking side, and their chance to get something out of the game.

The game’s momentum drastically changed in Woking’s favour just past the hour mark, and this was evident when a Gerring flick on from a trademark Jack Cook long throw found itself in a goal-scoring position in the penalty box, but was cleared for a corner before a Woking player could get there.

The Cards’ change in fortune was aided by the introduction of Paul Hodges inside the 65th minute, who replaced Shaun Donnellan, emphasising Dowson’s intention to get all three points. Instantly, Hodges – like in the away fixture – made a huge impact, when another Cook long throw caused problems defensively for Hartlepool, and Hodges fired a shot on the turn on the edge of the box, only for it to fall to Woking’s top goal-scorer Jake Hyde. The number 9 had little space to work with, but clinically found the side netting of the goal, and deservedly levelled things up for Woking, scoring his 12th of the season.

Woking fans were in great voice, and encouraged their spirited side to get a win. Paul Hodges almost found the back of the net with a very decent effort from long range which was arrowing into the top left, but it was comfortably saved in the end by Killip. Woking players were putting in a tireless effort, and were dominating the game on all areas of the pitch.

Inside the 77th minute, Woking’s high pressing was rewarded when Tarpey blocked a defensive clearance inside Hartlepool’s half. He made a powerful run forward, dribbling his way towards the edge of the box. This fantastic run ended up with a fantastic goal, when Tarpey exquisitely leathered the ball into the top left corner, putting Woking in front for the first time in the game. This scorcher was undoubtedly a contender for goal of the season.

Dave Tarpey's wonder goal; pic: David Holmes

Although Woking had taken the lead, there was no sign that they were going to drop their intensity. They retained possession brilliantly, and defended with discipline when they needed to. There was almost late drama however, inside the 8th minute of stoppage time (3 minutes past the additional 5, due to a late injury to Josh Casey), when a wonderful Nicky Featherstone corner gave Kenton Richardson a header from no more than 8 yards out. The full back leapt up, but somehow rattled the bar, in what was the last action of the game.

This late chance would’ve been a cruel goal for Woking to concede, but the Cards got all 3 points in a very courageous performance, bouncing back from their unfortunate away defeat to Boreham Wood last Saturday.

The Cards will make the short trip to Kingstonian in the FA Trophy 1st round next Sunday, looking to get a cup run to make up for their early FA Cup exit.

Woking: 13 Craig Ross, 2 Jack Cook, 3 Josh Casey ©, 12 Nathan Collier, 5 Ben Gerring, 16 Shaun Donnellan (11 Paul Hodges 65’), 8 Kane Ferdinand, 14 Godfrey Poku, 10 Max Kretzschmar, 7 Dave Tarpey (24 Jake Gray 86’), 9 Jake Hyde

Unused subs: 21 Christian Paulat-Brigg, 4 Manny Parry, 18 Ibrahim Meite

Goals: Hyde 66’, Tarpey 77’

Bookings: Cook 24’, Poku 42’, Casey 54’

Hartlepool United 1 Ben Killip, 3 Mark Kitching, 4 Michael Raynes, 5 Fraser Kerr, 7 Ryan Donaldson ©, 8 Nicky Featherstone, 11 Josh Hawkes (9 Nicke Kabamba 86’), 15 Gus Mafuta (24 Tyler Hamilton 81’), 19 Kenton Richardson, 23 Gime Toure, 33 Luke James

Unused subs: 10 Niko Muir, 22 Romoney Crichlow-Noble, 28 Jason Kennedy

Goals: Toure 25’ (pen)

Bookings: Mafuta 4’, Toure 63, Hawkes 76’

Referee: Tom Reeves

Attendance: 2,127 (205 away)

Sponsor’s Man of the Match: Paul Hodges

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