Off-colour Cards slip from summit as spirited lowly Magpies fly in the face of league form

Malcolm Wyatt
12:00am, Sat 21st Sep 2019
21st September 2019
Vanarama National League
Chorley 1 Woking 1

While Alan Dowson’s Woking stretched their unbeaten league run to 10 games in sun-baked Lancashire on Saturday, this testy Victory Park encounter was rarely quality fare.

Dave Tarpey cancelled out an early Chorley lead with a 22nd-minute headed finish after a home mistake, but there was little to savour for the Surrey visitors from there, the final whistle something of a relief after a sapping 102-minute affair.

By then the Cards were down to 10, Ben Gerring dismissed for an unwise touchline move on a day when Tyreke Johnson was stretchered off with a dislocated shoulder and sub Manny Perry almost followed suit courtesy of an unforgiving goalpost after a searching cross deep into added time.

Dowse’s squad show each week they’re made of stern stuff, and this performance - if rarely silky – was combative throughout. But in the end Jamie Vermiglio’s lowly but spirited hosts might have clinched the judges’ vote, last season’s National League North play-off winners stretching their own unbeaten run to three games.

On an afternoon where the stop-start nature of the game ensured plenty of drinks breaks amid late summer sunshine, the visitors made the better start, the early action played out in Chorley’s half, Tarpey and Johnson on the wings and Edser in the middle proving a handful.

But then came an eighth-minute counter-attack, Jake Cottrell breaking diagonally from the left and playing over the top to Holroyd, who fired home his sixth goal of the season.

Chorley grew more confident but the league leaders looked more likely to win contested balls, home keeper Billy Crellin having to cut out another Johnson cross while Edser was illegally checked on a visitors’ raid by Josh O’Keefe, his head bandage after an injury giving him plenty of Terry Butcher bravado.

The Cards soon levelled, a mistake by veteran home skipper Andy Teague pounced on by Jake Hyde, who found Kane Ferdinand, the Cards midfielder teeing up Tarpey for a close-quarters header.

Craig Ross was rarely troubled at the other end, and certainly not by Courtney Meppen-Walters’ shot from distance, while Holroyd screwed his next effort wide and Alex Newby struck over from a free-kick, the next home attack cleared by a typical no-nonsense Mousa Diarra header.

Jack Cook might still have seen the Cards in front before the break, but blazed over after good work by Tarpey.

Half time: Chorley 1 Woking 1

The Magpies started the better side after the break, Godfrey Poku blocking a promising Marcus Carver wing raid, while Holroyd crossed into the area but no Chorley player could capitalise, Poku cle

From increasingly-influential Josh Casey’s cross, Teague could only half-clear with his header, but Tarpey couldn’t get a clean strike, Edser inches away from a headed finish from the next deep cross, the resultant corner headed away.

Ross punched away the next Chorley corner, Woking clearing their lines, Cook soon causing further home flutters with another deep cross, the visitors again more likely to go in front.

Poku stopped a promising Newby run and Ross punched away a Cottrell free-kick, while Johnson remained a threat on the wing at the other end. And while Chorley pressed as much as they defended, they lacked a decisive cutting edge.

Paul Hodges replaced Edser, but Chorley were almost in again when Newby fed Cottrell, Diarra finally heading clear.

Then came a 50/50 Woking goalmouth challenge that left Johnson grounded and in agony, an eight-minute delay following and word of a dislocated shoulder, the Southampton loanee applauded by both sets of fans as he was carefully stretchered off.

There was no reprieve for Chorley though, replacement Jamar Loza just as tenacious down that flank on his Cards return, on loan from Chelmsford City.

After Matt Challoner was booked for a challenge, a Tarpey free-kick caused flutters, Cook reciprocating at the other end as Chorley countered.

Newby had a great chance to put the hosts back in front, Ross narrowing the angle to deny him, the home players and fans incensed by Diarra’s apparent pull on the midfielder but the referee unmoved.

On Woking’s next attack, Hodges and Hyde got in each other’s way, another chance going begging as time ebbed away. Hodges won the next Cards corner but that too proved fruitless, while Loza’s powerful cross was gathered by Fleetwood Town loanee and former England youth international Crellin.

Then came the sending off, Chorley in the ascendancy and looking to steal a few yards down the wing, Gerring unwisely raising an arm to stop Carver’s quick throw-in, the home bench erupting en masse, the referee arguably already reaching for red.

Accordingly, Chorley looked most likely to make use of the copious added time, Carver soon through on goal but over-thinking his finish, Ross’s advance decisive. And for all the Magpies’ pressure, Woking had done enough to ensure a fourth successive draw, Carver also over-deliberating with his final half-chance.

In fact, the Cards almost nicked it, the clang of the left goalpost as Parry zoomed in to try and scramble home from a deep Casey centre making the travelling faithful behind the goal wince, another painful shoulder injury on a day when wins for Tuesday night’s hosts Bromley and fellow contenders Halifax saw Woking slip to third.

Chorley: Billy Crellin, Matt Challoner, Andy Teague ©, Scott Leather (Adam Blakeman 63’), Courtney Mappen-Walters, Lewis Baines, Alex Newby, Josh O’Keefe (Louis Dodds 83’), Marcus Carver, Chris Holroyd (Elliot Newby 87’), Jake Cottrell. Unused subs: Mark Ross, Ntumba Massanka.

Scorer: Holroyd 8.

Yellow cards: O’Keefe 19’, Challoner 75’.

Woking: Craig Ross, Jack Cook, Ben Gerring, Moussa Diarra, Josh Casey ©, Kane Ferdinand, Godfrey Poku, Toby Edser (Paul Hodges 62’), Tyreke Johnson (Jamar Loza 73), Dave Tarpey, Jake Hyde (Manny Parry 85’). Unused Subs: Nathan Collier, Sam Howes.

Scorer: Tarpey 22’.

Yellow card: Edser 41, Poku 83, Casey 90 +11.

Red card: Ben Gerring 90 +1’

Referee: Lewis Smith.

Attendance: 1,346.

My MOTM: Josh Casey – On an afternoon when Woking struggled to locate top gear, Casey’s trademark determination at least highlighted the all-round effort put in by the visitors, always giving his best.

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