Eastbourne Borough 2 Woking 1
KEVIN BETSY saw red as Woking slumped to a shock defeat at struggling Eastbourne Borough.
But with nearest rivals Dartford slipping up 1-0 at Dorchester Garry Hills’s men remain eight points clear at the Blue Square South summit with their destiny still very much in their own hands.
Borough struck twice in the opening 16 minutes to bring Card’s four-match winning streak to an unexpected halt at Priory Lane.
The game lacked the markings of relegation candidates versus league leaders as Borough caught Cards cold to lead through Alex Lacey and Ben Watson strikes.
Giuseppe Sole’s eighth goal in six games gave Woking hope, but despite sustained pressure in the second half they could not find an equaliser.
Controversy reigned supreme in the final minutes as Sole had a strike ruled out for offside before Betsy was given a straight red for his protest.
Speaking after Woking’s fifth defeat of the season – their fourth since the turn of the year – coach Steve Thompson admitted he was baffled as to how the Cards managed to lose the clash despite giving their opponents a two-goal headstart.
How we’ve lost the game I don’t know. A couple of individual mistakes have cost us goals but for the next 70 minutes we have absolutely pounded them and were much the better team. But that’s football, isn’t it?Thompson groaned: “How we’ve lost the game I don’t know. A couple of individual mistakes have cost us goals but for the next 70 minutes we have absolutely pounded them and were much the better team. But that’s football, isn’t it?
“I thought we certainly deserved all three points today on the number of chances we created.
“But if you give away two sloppy goals as we did in the first 20 minutes its always going to be an uphill task.
“Luckily we haven’t been doubly punished by Dartford going away and getting three points.”
Eastbourne took the lead after just 12 minutes when Aaron Howe tipped away Matt Crabb’s curling effort from the edge of the area.
From the resulting corner, Lacey was left unchecked in the area and rose to thunder home a close-range header.
And four minutes later Woking were right up against it as Watson latched on to a long ball forward before rounding Howe and slotting in from an ever shrinking angle.
Woking were stunned but not into action and it was Borough that continued to surge forward, Watson unlucky not to do better from Crabb’s wonderfully crafted cross.
A penalty area scramble was the closest the Cards came to testing Mitchell Walker in a sorry opening 20 minutes and it wasn’t until Sole stung his fingertips with a free kick that he was forced to make a save.
Paris Cowan-Hall was largely kept on the periphery but did force Darren Baker to make a goal-line clearance before hobbling off with yet another hamstring problem just before the Cards dragged themselves in for half time.
It was always going to be a huge battle to salvage a point but hope was renewed 10 minutes in to the second half when Betsy’s cross was handled in the area by Simon Johnson.
Sole sent Walker the wrong way from 12-yards and Woking began to pile on the pressure.
Alex Lacey had already cleared a Moses Ademola effort off the line before Derek Duncan flashed a quick free kick just wide of the post.
Sole failed to test Walker with a pair of free kicks and with Woking committing more and more bodies to the siege on Boro’s goal, they were left susceptible to a counter.
The Cards got away with a blatant Duncan handball in the area before substitute Charles Ademeno almost scored without knowing it after charging down charging down debutant Glen Wilson’s loose back pass.
But then came the flashpoint. Sole looked to have stolen a point with a close-range tap in, only for the linesman to declare him offside when the ball was struck.
Betsy made his opinions heard and was promptly dismissed for his ceaseless arguing.
Questioned on what he made of the decision Thompson accepted it mattered little now the game was over.
“I have to see it again but it looks very dubious for me. But its gone now and there’s nothing we can do about it. It hasn’t happened for us today. We haven’t put the ball in the net and we needed a penalty to get our goal.
“They’ve won the game on the back of a good first 30 minute where we’ve made a couple of mistakes. That’s the harsh world of football.”
With just six games to go Woking are somewhat fortunate to still hold their eight point advantage over Dartford. But as injuries and suspensions continue to mount up, next Saturday’s visit of bottom-place Thurrock to Kingfield takes on even greater significance in the race for the title.