Woking forced to workout overtime in bruising Barrow encounter

Woking 2
Barrow 2

THE top line is that Woking remained in sixth place after this two apiece draw with Barrow AFC. But that hardly tells the story of a game that had it all.

For starters, there was the small matter of this game not concluding until gone 5pm after an early injury to a linesman resulted in 15 (fifteen) minutes of added time in the first half.

All four goals arrived in the hour-long opening period, with the home side having to twice come from behind – John Goddard and Giuseppe Sole on target for the battling hosts.

Woking made two changes to the side that lost 3-1 at Altrincham on Tuesday night: Joe Quigley coming back into attack, while Luton Town loan signing Scott Griffiths took his bow at left-back.

Little did 30-year-old Griffiths know, but his 28-day stint at Kingfield was about to get off to a nightmare start as he put through his own net after just 18 minutes. It wasn’t quite his first touch in the cardinal and white shirt but the full-back’s unerring header certainly belied his diminutive stature!

Just as was the case seven days earlier against Halifax Town, the Cards had to be up for a scrap to bank a home point against an archetypally physical team from the bottom half of the Vanarama National League.

Gladly, man of the match Goddard had his shooting boots back on as he netted his first goal since 2 January. The Cards’ top scorer blasted home his 14th strike of the season expertly on the half-volley from Quigley’s knock-down after 22 minutes.

Incredibly, there were still 38 minutes left on referee Chris Powell’s watch in the first half after the bizarre injury to assistant Matthew Rushton after just two minutes.

Standing at close quarters to a challenge between Bruno Andrade and Barrow’s Nick Wilmer-Anderton, the match ball somehow squirmed up, poleaxing the flag holder in the process. After a 12-minute evaluation of the head blow, involving club doctor Sanjeev Sekhon, it was decided that Mr Rushton should takes his leave from the field of play.

Incredibly, for the second week running, a distress call was put out over the PA system asking any qualified officials in the house to Fcome forward – long-time Cards fan Alban Lee being the man to answer that appeal.

Those two goals inside the opening quarter of the game merely served to light the touchpaper as, before the half-hour mark, the Bluebirds led for a second time.

Striker Andy Cook marked a superb individual performance with a well-deserved goal as he headed in from six yards out. One of many close calls to go against the Cards saw Joey Jones punished for a lunge on Cox’s strike partner Jordan Williams.

With the Woking rearguard looking all at sea, winger Dan Pilkington’s inswinging free-kick found Cox and, despite initially being kept out at point-blank range by Cole, the former Grimsby Town hitman nodded his 15th goal of the campaign into an unguarded net after 28 minutes.

The anxious Kingfield crowd naturally believed that rookie fourth official Lee had made a gaff with his electronic board when he indicated 15 minutes of added time at the end of the first period. But as it transpired, Cards boss Garry Hill and his grafting players were grateful for the overtime when Sole levelled things up for the second time.

A miscued Griffiths shot across goal found its way to Sole who, benefitting from a borderline onside call, deftly steered the ball low past keeper Joel Dixon and into the far corner; taking the sides in 2-2 after an epic opening first half.

Just 15 minutes rest seemed too little after an exhausting opening period but both sides ploughed on looking for a winner. Goddard time and again won his personal battle with full-back Dave Symington – Cards’ playmaker flashing two shots across the Barrow bows.

Like Sole had earlier, Quigley almost benefitted as a loose ball into the box fell into his path; only some last-ditch defending by Bluebirds’ skipper Simon Grand and stopper Joel Dixon keeping the scores level.

Young forward Quigley is still learning his trade, and could do worse than learn from the aerial prowess of opp-osing targetmen Cook and Williams, who were busy totting up the kind of heading success stats that the watching Scott Rendell would be proud of on his return from injury.

Deadeye Sole almost converted his second free kick of the week 10 minutes from time when he bent an effort inches over the angle of post and bar, but the closing stages remained doggedly contested, with the momentum swinging one way then the other.

Woking did almost carve out a killer blow with the final kick – or not, as was the case – of the game deep into, yet more, added time.

A flighted ball into the box was helped on by Brian Saah and then Jones to Quigley who, with the goal at his mercy six yards out, conspired to strike fresh air.

A battling draw marked the end of a tough week for Woking who remained in sixth place in the standings after Dover’s game at
Altrincham was postponed – Storm Henry arriving in Cheshire four days after Woking’s visit. Tranmere leapfrogged the Cards after a 2-1 win over Torquay United and swapped places (fifth and seventh) with Dover.

Assistant boss Steve Thompson summed up the draw with Barrow: “People might think: 2-2, there’s a hell of game going on down at Woking. But it was a low quality game; very bitty in the first half with the long stoppage, and lots of mistakes from both teams. Our defending improved in the second half but we couldn’t grab the all-important third goal.”

Meanwhile, for home boss Garry Hill, attention turns to FA Trophy action – with Cheltenham Town’s 3-0 conquerors, Oxford City due at the Laithwaite Community Stadium on Saturday for a third round clash.

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