Below-par Cards grab point
11:43am, Sun 26th Feb 2012
Hampton & Richmond Borough 1 Woking 1
Blue Square Bet South
25 February 2012
Woking again made hard work of one of the divisionâ€™s strugglers, despite lining up with just one change from the team that defeated second-placed Dartford, Paris Cowan-Hall (pictured) replacing the injured Elvis Hammond in the starting eleven.
On a difficult, bobbly pitch, the home side set out their stall from the off, making the early running and giving Woking little time on the ball. It was no surprise that the first real chance fell to Borough after five minutes. Esmond James, a nuisance on the right wing early on, played in Beaversâ€™ top scorer Dave Tarpey, who jinked past Mike Cestor only for his low cross-shot to deflect off Alan Inns and force a point-blank save by Aaron Howe.
The Cardsâ€™ first attempt came after 11 minutes, Cowan-Hall shooting into the side netting. Shortly afterwards Hampton came close to opening the scoring after James again played in Tarpey, whose attempt to take the ball around the advancing Howe was foiled by the Woking â€˜keeper. Home debutant Neil Jenkins glanced a header wide from a corner, before Tarpey again escaped Cestor and played a dangerous low ball across the goalmouth which this time Adam Newton nearly steered past Howe before recovering the ball and clearing. It was Tarpey yet again shortly afterwards who picked up a loose ball following some head tennis and a lack of communication amongst the Woking defence to fire another low effort across the box to win another corner as the home side continued their bright start.
At the other end, Cowan-Hallâ€™s header from an Ademola cross was comfortably collected by Craig Ross in the Borough goal as the league leaders did little to demonstrate to any neutrals (there was at least one!) how they had achieved their lofty position whilst the home side languished in the relegation places.
With half an hour gone Woking finally started to string some moves together, Cowan-Hall latching on to a flicked header from Wayne Gray before unleashing a close-range effort that Ross turned behind for a corner. Alan Inns tried his luck next, heading wide from a corner, then side-footing harmlessly at Ross after collecting a pass from Ademola just inside the box.
However, just as the visitors started to look more threatening, Hampton took the lead. Tarpey, continuing to be the home sideâ€™s most dangerous player, fired in an angled drive which Howe saved at the expense of a corner. With the Cardsâ€™ defence slow to react, the ball was met at the far post by Josh Huggins, who planted his header back across the goal and in to make it 1-0 on the stroke of half-time.
Half-time: Hampton & Richmond Borough 1 Woking 0
Woking started the second period more purposefully, and within four minutes of the restart had a great chance to equalise. Cestor, picking up a pass from Betsy on the left wing, lofted a cross into the Hampton area. Although the home defence managed to clear the ball out to the edge of the area, Cowan-Hall volleyed it back with interest, only for Cards fans to watch despairingly as the goal-bound effort was headed off the line and over the bar by Dean Inman.
Five minutes later, Adam Doyle picked up his thirteenth, and rather harsh, booking of the season for what looked from the stand to be a good tackle to stop the advancing Tarpey in a rare Hampton attack, the home side by now content to delay the game as much as possible with little intervention from referee Richard Martin.
It wasnâ€™t long before Woking resumed their attack, Ross tipping an angled effort from Betsy to safety. Moments later Betsy was brought down on the edge of the area by Jenkins, who received a yellow card despite some baying from the Woking crowd for a red, the home defence hoofing the subsequent free-kick into a neighbouring garden.
The equaliser was coming and after 64 minutes Ademola found Wayne Gray, who turned his defender on the byline and played the ball across the goal for Cowan-Hall to steer in from about a foot out to make it 1-1.
With the visitors upping the tempo, Cowan-Hall shot straight at Ross from the edge of the area shortly afterwards, before being replaced by Mo Shariff. Ademola also fired wide from a similar position after a good interchange of passes.
The Beavers did manage a couple of attempts, Hugginsâ€™ run through the Woking defence being ended by last man Adan Doyle, and Jeffreys heading a free-kick straight at Howe, but with neither side imposing themselves in midfield the game was petering out when Jack King launched himself at Lewis Ferrell, receiving a straight red card as the Hampton defender went to ground dramatically. This had little effect on proceedings, Woking having the last real chance of the game, Sogbanmuâ€™s header from Betsyâ€™s cross being saved by the feet of Craig Ross.
Obviously, one point is better than none but a return to the form that took us to the top of the table is needed to avoid a nervous run-in looking over our shoulders at Dartford, starting with the potential banana skin of Maidenhead United next Saturday.
Hampton & Richmond Borough: Craig Ross, Lewis Ferrell, Neil Jenkins, Billy Jeffreys, Darren Powell (Dean Inman 34), Josh Huggins, Esmond James (Tobi Alabi 85), Reece Jones, Dave Tarpey, Joel Ledgister, Paul Johnson
Unused subs: Charlie Moone, Karle Andrews, James Simmonds
Cautions: Neil Jenkins 62, Joel Ledgister 79
Woking: Aaron Howe, Adam Newton, Mike Cestor, Keiran Murtagh, Alan Inns, Adam Doyle, Paris Cowan-Hall (Mo Shariff 71), Jack King, Moses Ademola (Joe McNerney 78), Wayne Gray (Ola Sogbanmu 75), Kevin Betsy
Unused subs: Derek Duncan, Andy Little
Cautions: Adam Doyle 55
Sent Off: Jack King 80
My MOTM: Kevin Betsy - involved in most of Wokingâ€™s brighter moments.