Last gasp winner sinks Fleet

Phil Batts
12:00am, Sun 13th Jan 2013
Woking 1 Ebbsfleet United 0
Blue Square Bet Premier
13th January 2013

Loanee striker Jayden Stockley came off the substitutes' bench to earn Woking all three points with a late winner against a determined Ebbsfleet side who will feel that they deserved a share of the spoils on the balance of play and chances created. Up until Stockley's strike, it looked as though the Cards would be made to rue an early penalty miss from the normally reliable Kevin Betsy, who dragged his spot kick wide after ex-Card and Fleet captain Paul Lorraine brought down Loick Pires in the penalty area.

On a bitterly cold but bright day, Woking employed a 4-4-2 formation, once again using Joe McNerney in a forward position partnering Pires. The back four comprised the now regular quartet of Adam Newton, Jack Parkinson, Adam Doyle and John Nutter. Mark Ricketts anchored the midfield, along with Betsy, Billy Knott and Bradley Bubb, who looked to make up a front three whenever possible.

Although the playing surface at Kingfield was in a better state than it had been for the New Year's Day clash against Luton, conditions were still extremely heavy, making it difficult for Woking to impose their crisp passing style on the opposition and necessitating the use of route one tactics rather more often that they would ideally wish.

Ebbsfleet made the better start in the testing conditions, taking the game to the Cards and looking the more determined of the two teams. Slightly against the run of play, however, the home side was awarded a penalty in the ninth minute. A quick throw-in caught the Fleet defence napping and Pires stole into the penalty area only to be hauled down by the opposition skipper. The referee immediately pointed to the spot. Kevin Betsy calmly stepped up but, much to the surprise of the local fans, pulled his attempt wide of the 'keeper's right-hand post.

Things looked as though they might get worse for the Cards shortly afterwards when captain Mark Ricketts went to ground with what appeared to be a serious knee injury. Although he had to be helped from the pitch, he returned a few minutes later and was able to run off the knock, much to the relief of the Kingfield faithful.

The playing conditions were clearly causing problems for both sides, preventing them from stringing together any telling moves on the stodgy surface. As a result, the opening half hour was a fairly dour affair with little creative play and only the occasional half-chance being created. As the first half wore on, however, the promptings of Billy Knott started to catch the eye as he began to influence the game with his energy and clever passing, both short and long.

On thirty-three minutes, Ebbsfleet had their best chance of the game thus far. A defensive mix-up on the edge of the area between Parkinson and Aaron Howe resulted in the ball falling to Fleet striker Nathan Elder, who could only blaze high and wide when a little more composure might have seen him open the scoring.

Finally, with the game drifting towards the break, the tempo was dramatically increased with chances falling at either end. Firstly, good skills from Betsy created a chance for Bradley Bubb, whose goal-bound effort was blocked by Paul Lorraine at the expense of a corner. Then, right on half-time, Aaron Howe made an excellent save from Ashley Carew as he tipped his drive over the bar.

Half-time: Woking 0 Ebbsfleet United 0

Woking made an immediate change at the start of the second half with Jayden Stockley replacing Adam Doyle, who had suffered a back strain during the first half. As a result of this enforced change, Joe McNerney reverted to his more customary central defensive role with Stockley slotting in up front.

The introduction of the tall, blond striker to the Woking forward line immediately had a positive influence on proceedings. Firstly, he brought a good save from the Fleet 'keeper after good work from Betsy. Pires then blazed over the bar from ten yards out when in a good position. An even better chance arrived on the hour mark when an excellent long diagonal ball from Ricketts found Bubb one-on-one with the 'keeper but the Fleet defence came to the rescue and the ball was scrambled to safety.

A few minutes later, Gavin McCallum, who had replaced Pires after sixty-three minutes, made an excellent break down the left and crossed for Bubb, whose shot was deflected for a corner.

Despite Woking upping the tempo and taking the game to the opposition, Ebbsfleet were still very much in the game and causing problems for the Cards' defence, leaving the game very much in the balance as the match edged towards the final whistle.

Clearly, one goal would now settle the encounter and, fortunately for the home fans, Woking broke the deadlock in the eighty-ninth minute and a scrappy affair it was. Kevin Betsy made a good break into the area but the ball appeared to bobble around for some time before Jayden Stockley bundled the ball into the net from close range. The quality of the goal was academic, of course, to home players and supporters alike.

The referee brought the match to an end shortly afterwards. Proceedings were not over, however. Despite the difficult playing conditions, the game had been played in an excellent spirit throughout. So much so that, despite the obvious competitive nature of the match, there had been no bookings for either team. Rather bizarrely, therefore, the referee had no option but to dismiss opposition striker Ashley Carew as he appeared to throw a punch at Kevin Betsy as they were leaving the pitch, drawing events to a conclusion in an unexpected and somewhat unsavoury manner.

This was not a pretty match to watch by any stretch of the imagination. A gritty and workmanlike performance from the home team, however, was just sufficient to see them over the line and earn three more valuable points. The win lifts them into the top half of the table with thirty-five points from twenty-six games. Next up in the league, Newport County on Tuesday, 22nd January when the Cards will attempt to complete the double over the high-flying Welsh team.

Woking: Aaron Howe, Adam Newton, Joe McNerney, Adam Doyle (Jayden Stockley 46), John Nutter (Mike Cestor 80), Mark Ricketts, Jack Parkinson, Billy Knott, Kevin Betsy, Loick Pires (Gavin McCallum 63), Bradley Bubb

Unused subs: Elvijs Putnins, George Frith

Goal: Jayden Stockley (89)

Ebbsfleet United: Preston Edwards, Paul Lorraine, Craig Stone, Tom Phipp, Joe Howe, Neil Barrett (Adam Williams 90), Lanre Azeez (Liam Bellamy 58), Ashley Carew, Jack Saville, Liam Enver-Marum, Nathan Elder (Phil Walsh 79)

Unused subs: Lucas Menz, James Folkes

Sent off: Ashley Carew (90)

Attendance: 1419

MOTM: Jack Parkinson. Calm and composed in defence throughout.

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