Chelmsford 2 Woking 3
WOKING capped a wonderful campaign with a hard fought win over Chelmsford City on the final day of the season at Melbourne Park.
Keiran Murtagh struck what proved to be the winner midway through the second half to seal victory in a feisty clash in Essex.
The Cards took the lead against the run of play when Jack King headed home a tenth minute corner.
But City hit back just six minutes later when Cliff Akurang applied the finish to a neatly worked move.
Max Cornhill hit the post before before Jamie Slabber rounded Andy Little to temporarily lift Chelmsford into the play-off places, only for Giuseppe Sole to nod home for the eleventh game running.
Murtagh slotted home the winner on the hour and despite a late cluster of chances for both teams, the game ended in Woking’s favour.
I thought the whole team did well today. We looked strong, particularly in the second half and just really pleased to come to a good team and win 3-2. It’s a very good result
Assistant manager Steve Thompson said he was impressed by the desire of the team to pick up all three points despite the fixture carrying little significance for the visitors.
He said: “We’re looking at hungry footballers and hungry footballers want to win every game they play – even the five-a-side in training. That’s what we are looking for.
“They were hungry today they responded very well to the new system and to what me and Garry asked of them.”
Woking lined up in an unfamiliar 4-2-3-1 formation with Tom Davis and King operating behind the more advanced Murtagh.
But the Cards adapted well to the change in system and matched Chelmsford’s aggressive approach in all areas of the pitch.
“It was always going to be a tough game here and it turned out that way but I thought the lads responded well,” added Thompson.
“We asked for an improved performance on last week and I think we got it today.
“I thought we deserved to go in at half time level and in the second half I thought we were pretty much in control of the game and scored a magnificent winner through Keiran Murtagh.
“We decided to go with three central midfielders and played more of a 4-2-3-1 system because we thought on the day that would be the way to go about it with the pitch and the opposition.
“I thought the whole team did well today. We looked strong, particularly in the second half and just really pleased to come to a good team and win 3-2. It’s a very good result.”
It was clear the fixture meant little for the champions as they made a sluggish start to the game.
Akurang sent a good clearly chance over the bar and the impressive Warren Whitely watched his teasing corner skid across the face of goal and away from danger.
But Woking took the lead on 10 minutes when Dale Binns’ corner was turned in by King.
City’s reply was instant, Akurang couldn’t scramble Whitely’s cross over the line but they didn’t trail for long.
Ishmael Welsh cut Adam Newton of the game with a lovely pass to Aiden Palmer who found Slabber in the area.
The burly forward manoeuvred his sizeable frame round Adam Doyle before cutting back for Akurang to stab past Little.
Justin Miller thought he had given his side the lead only for his neat header to be ruled offside and at the other end, Kevin Betsy overhit a simple pass with Murtagh haring through on goal.
Little was left rooted when Cornhill smashed against the post from 25-yards while Joe McNerney also denied by the woodwork, his deflected header looping back off the cross bar.
Newton survived a handball appeal as City continued to press and they would have taken the lead had Akurang’s low drive not deflected back away from goal off his own player.
Eventually Chelmsford did break the deadlock, Slabber finding himself the wrong side of Alan Inns before dropping a shoulder to calmly slot past Little.
But not to be outdone, Woking hot-shot Sole popped up with a timely header minutes before the break to even things up before the interval.
Cornhill had the best chance for the Clarets after the restart but blazed well over after a smart turn in the penalty area.
And his miss was punished after 60 minutes when Murtagh finished off his own sweeping move from 12-yards.
A clever back heel released Betsy in the box whose initial cross was half cleared, but Murtagh had continued his run and was on hand to curl past Stuart Searle.
Challenges were flying in from both teams, King picking up the mantle of Woking enforcer with relish on a day when Hill’s men refused to be bullied out of it.
Kenny Clark, Clarets’ resident bruiser, almost snatched a point when his header hit the base of the post, and Miller was left equally infuriated when a queue of City players failed to get a telling touch on his long throw.