Hodges' first goal of season ensures Woking leave Hartlepool with a point

Conor Faherty
12:00am, Sat 7th Sep 2019
Hartlepool 1 Woking 1
Vanarama National League
Saturday 7th September 2019

Woking return to the top of the National League after they picked up a more than deserved point in the north-east. A Paul Hodges wonder strike cancelled out a first half Liam Noble penalty for the hosts.

It was a chilly evening in Hartlepool with the sun setting and the floodlights beaming on Victoria Park which was graced by the BT Sport cameras. The 101 Woking fans made the 12-hour round trip and they were tucked in the left hand side behind the goal being as loud as ever.

Woking came into the game off the back of their first draw this season to Torquay but results earlier in the day meant that they went top on goal difference after FC Halifax fell to a 2-0 defeat at home to Yeovil.

Noble opened the scoring for the Pools from the spot after Godfrey Poku was adjudged to have handled in the area. Noble made no mistake smashing it past Craig Ross in first half added time. However a goal of the season contender from Hodges meant that the scores were level which was no more than Woking deserved.

The Cards made one change to the starting line up from Tuesday night. Kane Ferdinand returned to the team after suspension to replace the injured Shaun Donnellan.

Woking started the game brightly; Ben Gerring and Jake Hyde were extremely threatening on set pieces with Gerring heading wide on one occasion and Hyde hitting the top of the crossbar on another.

However the hosts looked threatening through Gime Toure who was running at Gerring and Diarra and forced Ross into his first action of the game on 6 mins.

Woking looked threatening from corners all evening with Ben Gerring connecting to one only to see his header hit the crossbar.

Then came the controversy. On 14 minutes a lovely floated cross from Godfrey Poku found Toby Edser who headed brilliantly into the corner only for the assistant to flag it as offside. Replays show that Edser was clearly onside and Woking have a right to feel hard done by.

The game then became rather low key, with both teams cancelling each other out with a few shots each but nothing to threaten the respective goalkeepers.

Then came more controversy as, in first half added time, Hartlepool were awarded a penalty after Poku was deemed to have handled the ball. Replays show it was very controversial as the ball did not travel very far before hitting Poku. Sometimes they are given and sometimes they are not; on this occasion it was given.

Up stepped Noble to tuck away the penalty for Hartlepool and give them a 1-0 lead, and following it up by ‘giving it large’ to Craig Ross.

Half Time: Hartlepool United 1 Woking 0

The second half started very even with both teams looking to score, and Dave Tarpey rifling a shot over the bar in the early exchanges.

They continued to push after a Hyde header was saved by Pools keeper Ben Killip off a lovely cross from Tyreke Johnson.

On 65 minutes Dowse made his change by taking off Toby Edser who - apart from his disallowed goal - was fairly quiet, and replacing him with the always exciting Paul Hodges.

However Hartlepool nearly doubled their lead. A quick free kick from Hartlepool played Ryan Donaldson in and his shot was just wide of Ross’ left hand post after being pushed wide by Casey.

Jack Cook then went into the book for a foul on Toure who continued to try and run at the Woking back four who, on the balance of play, have did well to cope with his pace.

Then came an absolute moment of magic from substitute Paul Hodges. In the 79th minute a corner from Woking was parried away by Killip only to Poku, who laid it off to Hodges on the right hand side. He took on his man Kennedy before curling his shot into the top right hand corner and celebrating in front of the travelling Woking fans - a goal I feel that just can’t be given enough credit through words. Just absolutely spectacular. 1-1.

Josh Casey then found himself going into the book after he pushed Ryan Donaldson in reaction to the Pools player tackle on Kane Ferdinand.

Hartlepool then had a chance to take all 3 points after Toure was played through he ran clear of Diarra but there was no way past Craig Ross who made an excellent save to deny them.

Woking then had a chance to win it themselves Johnson laying it back to Hodges on the edge of the of the area who looked to sweep it into Killip’s left hand corner however the keeper just got down to push it clear and get just enough on it to make sure it didn’t land at Tarpey’s feet.

Seconds later Hodges found himself in the book capping off a very eventful substitute appearance for the Woking man.

Then Hartlepool had the moment to win it. Kioso on the right hand side puts in a lovely cross Toure got his foot on it only for his own player Jason Kennedy to clear it off the line.

5 minutes of added time gave an opportunity for both teams to win the game. Woking had a free kick on 93 mins, presenting them with a decent chance to find a winner although Tarpey’s delivery had too much on it. Jack Cook went down after being pulled by Mark Kitching in an incident which you have seen given before.

A very good game at Victoria Park saw Woking return to Surrey with a point; however, they will feel hard done by that it wasn’t three. A Toby Edser goal ruled out wrongly and a controversial penalty awarded against them, although on the overall balance of play a point was probably the fair result.

Woking performed very well in front of the BT Sport cameras and have definitely put the league on notice. Dowse will be very pleased with the team’s fight and spirit.

The point sees Woking go back to the top of the league one clear of FC Halifax Town and Bromley and sees their unbeaten run go to 8 games. They will look to get back to winning ways on Saturday as they welcome Ebbsfleet United to the Laithwaite on Saturday. All in all a positive day for the cards but if some decisions had gone their way it could have been even better.

Woking: 13 Craig Ross, 2 Jack Cook, 5 Ben Gerring, 6 Moussa Diarra, 3 Josh Casey ©, 14 Godfrey Poku, 8 Kane Ferdinand, 20 Toby Edser (11 Paul Hodges 65’), 7 Dave Tarpey, 17 Tyreke Johnson, 9 Jake Hyde

Unused subs: 1 Sam Howes, 4 Manny Parry, 12 Nathan Collier, 18 Ibrahim Meite

Goals: Hodges 79’

Bookings: Cook 70’ Casey 80’ Poku 80’

Hartlepool United: 1 Ben Killip, 2 Peter Kioso, 3 Fraser Kerr, 4 Michael Raynes, 20 Aaron Cunningham, 3 Mark Kitching, 15 Gus Mafuta , 16 Liam Noble (Nicky Featherstone ‘84’), 28 Jason Kennedy (Holohan 90+1’), 7 Ryan Donaldson ©, 23 Gime Toure

Unused Subs: 6 Adam Bale, 9 Nicke Kabamba, 33 Luke James

Goals: Noble 45+1’ (Pen)

Bookings: Ryan Donaldson ‘67’ Liam Noble ‘81’

Referee: Tom Reeves

Attendance: 3429 (101 Woking fans)

Man of the match: Paul Hodges changed the game completely when he came on. Ran tirelessly at their back 4 and then scored a wonder goal.

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