By Scott Taylor
Photos by David Holmes
David Raya Martin’s incredible goalkeeping performance ensured that Woking failed to beat Southport at Kingfield on Saturday. Charlie Joyce and Dominic Collins got the goals for the visitors whilst the ever reliable Guiseppe Sole pulled one back late on for the Cards. However, an inspired showing from Blackburn loanee Raya Martin meant that Garry Hill’s men couldn’t find that much needed equaliser. The result moves Gary Brabin’s side up to 20th in the Vanarama Conference, while the hosts remain in the play-off places but only just as they are in fifth.
The visitors took the game to Woking, and were eventually rewarded with their efforts. In the 11th minute, Southport took the lead. David Fitzpatrick swung a free-kick into the danger area, only for on-loan goalkeeper Ross Worner to punch it straight up into the air. From that the ball fell to Joyce who headed it into an empty net, despite a heroic effort from Mike Cestor on the Woking goal line.
Cestor then had another moment of bravery later on in the first half, but the consequences were much more severe. The Frenchman, 22, twisted to make a goal-saving tackle after a deflection almost allowed Richard Brodie through on goal, but suffered a serious injury. The Woking defender, who has been resurgent this season, was stretchered off and then rushed to St Peter’s hospital in Chertsey with what looked like an injury to his right knee.
It got from bad to worse for the Cards in the second half as they now found themselves 2-0 down, conceding against the run of play, and once again failing to clear a set piece. It was Fritzpatrick who again caused problems for the Woking defence, and his ball into the box was met by Collins, who rose highest to head past Worner.
In the 29 goals that the Cards have conceded this season, more than 50% of those have come from set-pieces, and in a period of festive cheer, that is something that won’t amuse manager Hill.
Worner’s opposite number however, was determined not to get beat. The Spaniard, 19, made a string of world-class saves to deny Woking a chance back into the game. Firstly, he tipped a Dean Morgan free-kick onto his crossbar when it looked set to go into the top corner. Then, from point blank range, the shot-stopper proved why he is at a Championship club in the form of Blackburn, as he was forced into a brilliant reaction save, where it looked easier to score for Kevin Betsy.
His rearguard was eventually beaten in the 88th minute of the game when second half substitute Guiseppe Sole blasted home from the edge of the box to net his tenth goal of the season for his hometown club.
After the game, Garry Hill told the NLP: “At the moment we are frankly not good enough in either box. We are not taking our chances at one end and we are certainly not defending well enough.”
“[There’s] no excuses, we just have to work harder at eliminating the faults. Southport worked really hard and we can have no complaints.”
Woking will look to bounce back when they face a short trip to Eastleigh on Boxing Day.
Woking: Worner; Jones, McNerney, Cestor (Goddard 40′), Nutter (Arthur 61′); Lewis, Murtagh, Payne, Betsy (Sole 60′); Morgan, Marriott.
Southport: Martin; Fitzpatrick, Collins, Foster, George; Brodie (Hattersley 80′), Joyce, Connor (McDonald 65′), Rutherford, Bakayoko.