Woking 1 Dartford 0
FANS, players, directors and maybe even the manager will look back at this game and admit this was the day Woking clinched the Blue Square South title.
It took just three minutes for the Cards to force a breakthrough and send Kingfield wild with emotion, ever reliable Alan Inns rising highest to thunder home a header at the back post.
The remaining 87 minutes remained goalless as every Cardinals fan inside the ground tore out their hair and gnashed at their fingernails. The five minutes added on for injuries would have lasted an age.
But as the final whistle blew, the ecstasy poured out.
Everyone is absolutely buzzing. I think we all knew the importance attached to the game in terms of motivation for the rest of the seasonAaron Howe, who 10 minutes previous had kept the scores level with a brilliant save from Danny Harris’ close-range volley, ran the length of the Kingfield Road Terrace, fists pumping in pure delight to celebrate with the fans.
Speaking after the game, influential Cards defender Adam Doyle refused to accept the Cards already had one hand on the trophy.
He said: “It looks quite ominous for other teams now but there is a long way to go.
“We’re 14 points clear after today but they have two games in hand and if they win them the pressure is still very much there.
“Our squad, if everyone is fit, is ridiculous.
“It is so strong we’ve got Kevin Betsy back in now as well which is extra experience and we look pretty solid all round.
“That showed today in our character, we were hanging on a little bit at the end but sometimes you need that.
“Everyone is absolutely buzzing. I think we all knew the importance attached to the game in terms of motivation for the rest of the season.
“I think everyone is pretty happy with themselves but it doesn’t stop here.”
Inns lit the touch paper inside three minutes with a thundering header as the footballing spectacle everyone expected burst in to life.
Howe had already been caught wandering by a lofted ball that seemed to stay in the air for ever before Woking eventually hacked clear but Dartford responded superbly to going behind.
Moses Ademola was called in to defence duty to clear Tom Bonner’s header off the line after Mike Cestor’s terrific sliding block had denied Harris a strike at goal.
The Darts piled bodies into the penalty area at every opportunity but it was Woking who came closest to grabbing a second when Elvis Hammond showed great strength to turn Bonner inside the box.
The Ghanaian found Ademola with his cross but the winger’s deft flick was stopped by Louis Wells in between the posts.
Come-back-kid Betsy interlinked excellently with Adam Newton and Hammond to feed Ademola only for Woking’s top goalscorer to loft over.
Dartford hit back and when Lee Noble’s long-rage effort was tipped against the bar by Howe a linesman’s flag cut short the celebrations after Harris nodded in the rebound.
After the restart the Darts threw everything at their hosts.
Jon Wallis, chief tormentor in the heart of midfield, sliced Woking in two with a laser-guided pass only to watch Harris round Howe before poking just wide.
Howe was then left wrong-footed by a nasty deflection and watched jaw dropped as the ball bounced off the top of his crossbar, but made amends moments later to parry away Harris’ stinging volley.
Tempers began to flair and Cestor was given his marching orders for a shove on substitute Ryan Hayes as rowdy travelling fans were ejected from the stadium for encroaching on the pitch.
But even the Frenchman’s late dismissal and minor crowd trouble could not take the shine off Woking’s most important win of the season.
Garry Hill firmly believes the division is still wide open and the championship is still up for grabs. In truth, he must be the only man in the Blue Square South who believes it.