Woking send Betsy off in style
12:03pm, Sun 26th Apr 2015
Woking 3 FC Halifax Town 2
25th April 2015
Whoever said that dead rubbers were dull affairs? Three penalties, a red card, and the bowing out of a club legend. This game had it all.
The match didn't go all Woking's way, conceding early on to a Scott McManus header, before Josh Payne pulled a goal back to go into the break all square. Will Hatfield put the visitors back in front with his first penalty of the game soon after the interval before throwing away the chance to increase the lead by missing his second. Scott Rendell got the Cards back on level terms with a penalty of their own before a breakaway initiated by Kevin Betsy (pictured) was finished off by Yemi Odubade with the last kick of the game.
Before the match began, a guard of honour welcomed Betsy onto the pitch for the final game of his illustrious career after which the ground fell silent to remember the 56 supporters who lost their lives in the fire at Bradford City 30 years ago.
The game got underway at a terrific pace and within ten minutes the Shaymen had nudged themselves into the lead when Woking failed to clear their lines, allowing McManus to head home only his second goal of the season.
The home side was soon back on level terms as John Goddard drifted down the wing, cut back inside two defenders before getting his shot away. It bounced off a defender to cries of 'hand ball' but Josh Payne was the only man to keep his eye on the prize and stay onside to coolly side foot the ball into the net.
The first half ended on a sour note with Halifax's Adam Smith scything down Betsy from behind, eliciting a rightfully livid reaction from the day's out-going skipper. Referee David Rock took his time and did not rise to the crowd's cries for a red card, showing instead a yellow only. The resulting free kick, 40-yards out, produced another Giuseppe Sole masterclass as he put his laces through a thundering effort on goal which fizzed hard and low and only a matter of inches wide of the target.
Half-time: Woking 1 FC Halifax Town 1
The second half started with a nightmare clearance from Jake Cole in the home goal, slicing a back pass into the path of the oncoming Danny Hattersley, who nudged the ball past the Cards' 'keeper and away from goal. The pair collided and the referee, to the consternation of the home fans, decided that it warranted the game's first penalty kick.
Cole, who received a yellow card for his part in the incident, guessed the right way, but could only watch as Will Hatfield's sweetly struck effort rose high into the top right hand corner of the net to restore the visitors' lead.
After this shock start to the second half, Woking began to pepper the Halifax goal and if not for the heroics of the Halifax's 'keeper Matt Glennon, free kicks from Payne and efforts from Betsy and Goddard would have seen the Cards at least back on level terms.
This increase in pressure led to a real domination of the game by the home side and appeared to begin to frustrate the visitors. After a fairly innocuous challenge in the centre circle by Keiran Murtagh on Matt Pearson, the Shayman centre back over-reacted, going head to head with the Woking man as both received yellow cards.
With the game into its final quarter, Betsy showed great vision as he sent a brilliant cross to the back post where Goddard brought another fine save from the 'keeper. The resulting corner saw the ball pinball around the box, with several shots coming in, before falling to Sole, who appeared to be hauled to the ground, but the referee instead gave a free kick the other way.
Having come so close to securing a deserved equaliser it then looked as though Woking's season was about to fizzle out as, with time beginning to slip by, the referee awarded the visitors another penalty.
Payne was adjudged to have tugged on the arm of Hatfield who hit the deck in somewhat dramatic fashion. The Woking midfielder was shown a red card for his challenge but Cole produced a superb save to keep out the spot kick as he dived low to his right.
The Cards pressed on, desperately looking for an equaliser when two Goddard free kicks came in quick succession. The first saw a dipping ball 25-yards out smash against the crossbar and his second, an inch or so outside the box, struck a raised arm as Halifax's Hatfield broke from the wall. As the PA announcer called for four minutes of extra time, the referee this time indicated a Woking penalty and Scott Rendell stepped up to send Glennon the wrong way to set up an exciting final few minutes of the game.
As the match entered the final minute of stoppage time, it seemed only fitting that the outgoing captain for the day should be the man to set up the goal that won it for the Cards. Betsy went on a blistering run deep into the visitors' half, working the ball wide to substitute Manny Oyaleke, whose cross found Odubade at the back post and he fired confidently into the bottom corner for the most pulsating of winners.
This was an exciting performance from Woking to cap off an admirable campaign and give great hope for the future as Messrs Hill and Thompson continue their tenure in charge.
The day, however, will be remembered by all those present as the day a Woking legend hung up his boots. I personally remember seeing a young man back in 1997, in my first Woking game as a five year old boy, breaking through defences and picking out pin point crosses. Almost two decades later, Kevin Betsy showed that he is still capable of all that, and more. A great ambassador for the club and a consummate professional. Thanks for the memories, King Kev. Enjoy your retirement - you've earned it.
Woking:Â Jake Cole, Adam Newton (Yemi Odubade 80'), Chris Arthur, Joe McNerney, Mark Ricketts, Josh Payne, Keiran Murtagh (Manny Oyeleke 65'), John Goddard, Kevin Betsy (c), Scott Rendell, Giuseppe Sole (Joey Jones 85')
Unused subs:Â Michael Crowe, Brian Saah
Yellow cards:Â Cole 46â€™, Murtagh 59'Â
Red card:Â Payne 81'
Goals:Â Payne 17â€™, Rendell 90' (+3), Odubade 90' (+4)
FC Halifax Town:Â Matt Glennon, Kevin Roberts, Marc Roberts (c) (Steve Williams 56'), Graham Hutchison, Scott McManus, Adam Smith (Jamie Jackson 46'), Matt Pearson, Paul Marshall, Will Hatfield, Danny Schofield, Danny Hattersley
Unused subs:Â Phil Senior, Â James Bolton
Yellow cards:Â Smith (35â€™), Pearson (59â€™), Hatfield (90â€™)Â
Goals:Â McManus (10â€™), Hatfield (46')
Sponsors' Man of the Match: Jake Cole