County Hold The Cards To Stay In The Game
County avoided defeat against the ‘Cards’ of Woking for the very first time, after an early goal for each side resulted in a share of the points at the Kingfield Stadium.
Danny Lloyd netted with just six minutes on the clock, but the lead was only held for a further five before Alex Wall equalised – leaving the Hatters in tenth place, and level on points with the last play-off position. They are likely, however, to face their coming games without Liam McAlinden, who was taken to hospital with a cracked rib after falling awkwardly.
County took to the field on a cloudy and mild Surrey afternoon with a line-up that, for the first time in six months, was unchanged. Birthday boy Ben Jackson celebrated turning 19 with a recall to the squad, as he replaced fellow left-sided player Eddie Clarke – by way of the only change from the substitutes named at Edgeley Park against Bromley a week previously.
Each team earned a corner within the opening half a dozen minutes – and from theirs, the Hatters opened the scoring, as Sam Walker’s delivery from the right was flicked on by Adam Thomas to Lloyd who drilled home from 10 yards for the first goal of his second County spell.
Jordan Keane then stung the hands of home goalkeeper Craig Ross with a low shot from just inside the area. But, five minutes after going behind, the hosts drew level after Jack Cook’s long throw from the right into County’s box found Wall, and the striker tapped in from close range.
The Hatters almost got their noses back in front midway through the half – and once again from a Walker corner on the right – but Cook, by the far post, cleared McAlinden’s effort off the line.
County continued to dominate much of the possession without creating further clear-cut chances, although Elliot Osborne went close 11 minutes from the break with a shot from outside the box that fizzed past the left upright.
Five minutes later, Ben Hinchliffe, who had previously enjoyed a relatively quiet afternoon, had to be at his best to block Dave Tarpey following a free-kick into the area from the left. And Jamar Loza’s shot deflected off Liam Hogan and on to the County crossbar as the Cards enjoyed a strong spell ahead of half-time.
HALF-TIME: Woking 1 (Wall, 11), County 1 (Lloyd, 6).
County made a double-substitution upon the resumption – introducing Jackson and Nyal Bell for Dan Cowan and Thomas – but Woking fashioned the first attempt on goal after the break, courtesy of Tarpey whose shot from the edge of the ‘D’ was cleanly caught by Hinchliffe.
A counter-attack by the Hatters seven minutes into the new half culminated in a cross from the right by Osborne to Bell – only for Ross to dive and smother at the substitute’s feet. Shortly afterwards, Bell turned provider by threading a through-ball to McAlinden – who was halted in his tracks just inside the area, following Ben Gerring’s last-ditch tackle.
The Cards caught County’s defence napping 20 minutes from time, but Wall, after being put through on goal, failed to double his and Woking’s tallies when he fired wide of the right post. And two corners in quick succession from Max Kretzchmar saw Kane Ferdinand head over on both occasions.
With two minutes remaining, Keane’s head connected with a free-kick by Osborne, and the attempt was destined for the top-left corner before Ross dived at full stretch to parry it behind. Bell, in added time, unleashed the afternoon’s final shot, which flew narrowly wide.
FULL-TIME: Woking 1 (Wall, 11), County 1 (Lloyd, 6).
Team (4-2-3-1): Hinchliffe; Minihan, Palmer (Capt.), Hogan, Cowan (Jackson, 46); Keane, Walker; Thomas (Bell, 46), Osborne, Lloyd; McAlinden (Arthur, 69).
Unused Subs: Ormson, Dimaio.
Booked: Bell, Lloyd.
Attendance: 2,189 (310 representing The Twelfth Man).
Reporter: Gareth Evans.