Nutter and Goddard strikes secure inspired victory
10:19am, Sun 16th Feb 2014
Gateshead 0 Woking 2
The Skrill Premier
15th February 2014
A spirited Woking performance led to three precious away points as Garry Hillâ€™s side out-gunned play-off contenders Gateshead on a rain-soaked International Stadium pitch.
The Cards moved nine places clear of the relegation zone and ended Garry Millsâ€™ sideâ€™s nine-game unbeaten run with an assured and often gritty performance.
The visitors stunned the hosts with a second-minute John Nutter finish, weathering a second-half fight-back before John Goddard killed the game with a second 20 minutes from time.
It was no less than the visitors deserved, after a committed display, although there was doubt as to whether the match would even get the go-ahead after persistent rain during the day.
The Cards got the green light to head north after an 8am pitch inspection, but while Hill and his squad headed to the North-East by train via Kingâ€™s Cross, morning rain gradually saturated the pitch.
But a meeting between Yorkshire referee Adrian Holmes, Hill and Mills led to a decision to go ahead, something the travelling party will be glad of.
There was a dream start for the Cards, early pressure leading to a Kevin Betsy cross from the right of the area and a relatively easy five-yard Nutter finish, the Tynesiders out-foxed in their own box.
Yet the hosts â€“ fourth at the start of the day - fought back, with Marcus Maddison and Craig Baxter proving a handful on the right flank.
Maddison drilled just wide after a prolonged attack, while his next effort struck the post and was cleared, Sam Beasant expertly rallying his defence.
The imperious Joe McNerney on more than one occasion pulled off assured headed clearances.
Woking for their part looked dangerous on the break, with Jack Marriott stretching the home defence, but two early corners came to nothing, McNerney coming closest with a rising header.
Josh Payneâ€™s strike from distance was stopped by Adam Bartlett, the home sponsorsâ€™ choice for man of the match, while at the other end James Brown tested Beasant.
After Baxter held off three challenges, Maddison was closed down again, while Joe Jones was starting to make an impact at the other end and played in Scott Rendell, but his shot was cut out too.
Betsy continued to press the home defence with his mazy runs, while Bartlett got down to a Marriott shot after a defence-splitting one-two with Rendell.
Brett Johnson stood his ground to deny James Marwood, an increasing threat for Gateshead, while Beasant made a diving save to stop a Lewis Sirrell long-range strike.
McNerney had his next towering header stopped by a home defender on the line, while Beasant gathered at the second attempt from a powerful Maddison free-kick.
After Wokingâ€™s next corner was cleared, Gateshead swiftly countered and Marwood tested Beasant from distance again, while JJ Oâ€™Donnell headed wide but was offside anyway.
Half-time: Gateshead 0 Woking 1
Millsâ€™ half-time words proved the catalyst for a concerted spell of pressure from the Tynesiders after the break, but Woking remained resolute in their quest to stay in front.
McNerney cleared the first attack, while Baxter blazed over, Beasant then held on to a half-chance from former Everton player John Oster.
Woking might have added a second on the break after another great Jones through-ball, the ball taking a deflection but the resultant corner was cleared.
By the hour mark, Mills had introduced all three subs, but the Cards remained a threat on the break, Goddard denied by Bartlett after a lovely Rendell pass as the hosts appealed for offside.
Nutter headed away as a home striker lurked from Sirrellâ€™s danger-ball, Woking continuing to stand their ground.
Subs Ryan Noble and Liam Hatch soon came into their own for the Tynesiders, but Mark Ricketts was at his best to cancel out the latterâ€™s promising break, while Maddisonâ€™s next centre was too strong after good work by Marwood.
Maddison then tested Beasant with a cheeky near-post lob, the home crowd ever more vocal as the pressure continued.
But then came the killer moment in the 70th minute, Beasantâ€™s long clearance falling perfectly for Rendell, whose pass was deflected but still found the tenacious Betsy, the veteran play-maker threading across the area. And while Marriott could not quite reach the ball, Goddard was on hand at the left of the area to slot home and put the game to bed.
Bartlett then denied Marriott again with the home defence stretched, while Payne struck from distance, and Marriottâ€™s replacement Giuseppe Sole added a fresh threat.
Betsy drilled wide with Sole waiting after another great Payne delivery, while Sole showed too much of the ball to Bartlett after a neat Betsy lay-off.
While the crowd had been struck dumb by Goddardâ€™s goal, the hosts continued to battle, but McNerney cleared the next danger-ball, and a Noble header just cleared the post.
And late visitorsâ€™ sub Niall Wright was back to deny Hatch as Gateshead eyed an injury-time consolation, Wokingâ€™s subsequent clean sheet another badge of pride on a day when the train ride home must have been all the sweeter.
Woking: Sam Beasant, Joe Jones (Niall Wright 90), John Nutter, Mark Ricketts Â©, Joe McNerney, Brett Johnson, Kevin Betsy, Josh Payne, Scott Rendell, John Goddard, Jack Marriott (Giuseppe Sole 76),. Subs not used: Aaron Howe, Anthony McNamee, Reece Beckles.
Bookings: Marriott 43, Goddard 88.
Gateshead: Adam Bartlett, James Curtis, Ben Clark Â©, Phil Turnbull, James Brown (Ryan Noble 52), Craig Baxter, James Marwood, Lewis Sirrell, Marcus Maddison, John Oster (Liam Hatch 60), JJ Oâ€™Donnell (Jamie Chandler 52). Subs not used: Carl Magnay, Josh Walker.
My MOTM: Joe McNerney â€“ difficult to choose on a day when every Woking player proved their worth, but the non-nonsense defender, busy at both ends, perfectly illustrated the visitorsâ€™ best qualities.