Forest Green 3
GARRY HILL was left reeling after a stoppage time poacher’s double from Forest Green’s Matt Taylor denied the Cards a first point on their travels.
Forest Green gave a beleaguered Woking a second-half battering after Kevin Betsy had given the visitors the lead with a first-half penalty.
And the Cards looked to be escaping The New Lawn with a positive result despite Magno Vieira squaring things up with a close-range finish in the 62nd-minute.
But the resistance was shattered in the cruellest of fashions and with just seconds remaining super-sub Taylor netted twice in time added on to give the hosts all three points.
A disappointed Hill described Taylor’s double strike as a moment of madness.
He said: “We haven’t had a bad start with six points out of twelve but it’s disappointing when you think you have a point in the bag.
“Injury time is a time to slow the game down and make sure everyone clears their head and takes responsibility.
“But we haven’t done that and that is what hurts me – we’ve worked hard but that gap in part-time and full-time started to tell on us at the end.
“I think that a neutral watching the game today would say that apart from the last five or 10 minutes that was nothing between the two teams.
“We said it would be important in the second half not to conceded – I thought we gave the ball away cheaply at times and we got punished.
“It’s disappointing to lose a game in injury time – it was a mad minute.”
Woking made all the early running and promised much with early attempts from Bradley Bubb and Betsy.
But despite moving the ball around wonderfully well on the deck it was the route one option that first seriously opened up the Forest Green defence.
Aaron Howe punted a huge kick forward but Bubb was hesitant in the area as the ball sailed over everyone else’s head and Sam Russell was allowed to punch clear.
Lee Sawyer then took the wrong option on the edge of the area and fired well wide when Loick Pires was better placed to his right.
Rovers were content to look after the ball deep in their own half but failed to carve out any chances of their own even with the persistent efforts of lightning-quick James Norwood down the flanks.
Kevin Betsy should have tested Russell after a 50-50 between Jack Parkinson and Jamie Collins released the forward and at the other end James Rowe tried his luck from long range.
A drab game finally burst into life in the 34th-minute.
Reece Styche combined with Rowe and Norwood to spring Woking’s offside trap only to see Mike Cestor steer a dangerous cross out for a corner at the back post.
Mark Ricketts almost found the back of the net a minute later with a driven 35-yard strike but the effort lacked the required dip and whistled just over the bar.
Only the fingertips of Howe kept the scores level as he turned Jamie Turley’s bullet header over the bar.
But the best chance of the half fell to the Cards and in-form striker Pires.
Betsy threaded the striker through down the right channel but the forward fluffed his lines, skewing a right-foot shot wide of the mark.
But Betsy spared his team-mates blushes, showing great composure to slot home a 42nd-minute penalty after Pires was bundled to the ground by Jamie Turley as he attacked Sawyer’s hanging cross.
Forest Green started the second-half brightly and fired off an early warning when Styche turned Ed Asafu-Adjaye’s cross round the post.
Substitute Kieron Forbes drew a save from Howe but Cards were not without chances of their own, Joe McNerney coming so close to producing a carbon copy of his stunning free-kick against Barrow last week in the 50th-minute.
But with Rovers shifting through the gears, Woking failed to exploit a handful of counter-attack opportunities as the game became more and more stretched.
Howe made an excellent one-handed save from Magno Vieira after Styche’s high cross fell to him in the area.
Vieira had the last laugh, however, as he helped Collins’ header over the line from a 61st-minute Forest Green corner.
With the rain hammering down Woking defenders stood like statues as another Collins’ header caused problems in the area, this knock-down ricocheting around the six-yard box before Adam Newton eventually cleared.
Newton was then forced to head Turley’s cross wide for a corner but not before Norwood drilled across the goal and wide from just inside the area.
Woking never got to grips with the second-half tempo and their frustration was summed up when Sawyer was cautioned for a cynical swipe at the legs of Norwood as the striker bore down on Woking’s defence.
Brett Johnson joined him in the book when he was adjudged to have illegally stopped substitute Phil Marsh, but Rowe failed to test Howe from the free-kick.
Despite the onslaught it looked as though Woking had done enough to earn a point.
But Taylor broke Woking hearts in stoppage time, two goals in as many minutes turning a hard-fought first away point into a painful defeat.
First the striker was well positioned to prod home Marsh’s cross and immediately after the restart he arrived at the back-post to slide home Norwood’ s measured square-ball.