Woking 2-3 FC Halifax Town: Shaymen get their season up and running with eventful victory

FC Halifax Town got their season up and running with an eventful 3-2 win at Woking.

Saturday, 28th August 2021, 4:59 pm
Updated Saturday, 28th August 2021, 5:00 pm
Woking v Halifax

Debutant Jesse Debrah's magnificent shot put Halifax ahead against the run of play, but that was cancelled out by Jordan Maguire-Drew's controversial penalty.

Martin Woods put Town back in-front shortly before half-time, a lead which was extended moments after the break by Billy Waters.

George Oakley got one back for Woking, who dominated the last 20 minutes like they had the first 20, but The Shaymen held out for only their second win in 14 visits to Woking.

Debrah replaced Harvey Gilmour in Town's only change, as The Shaymen switched to a 3-4-3.

Woking went close to an early lead when Rohan Ince's header from a corner was cleared off the line, former Halifax loanee Tahvon Campbell sent a shot wide from inside the box, and defender Joe McNerney's header was tipped over by Sam Johnson.

Woking outmuscled and outran The Shaymen during a really bright, lively start.

Town were pushed deep, forced into some rushed clearances and lacking their hosts' composure, conceding possession too cheaply.

Campbell was getting on the ball and looking dangerous, cutting in on his right foot from the left flank.

Jordan Slew got Town's first chance, but couldn't control a long pass after getting in-behind the Woking defence and prodded off target from an angle.

There was a flow and a tempo to Woking's play, but not Town's, who were going from back-to-front more often and not keeping the ball enough.

But out of nothing, Debrah launched a ferocious left-footed shot across goal from 25 yards, and Town were ahead.

After that, it was like watching a different game as Woking lost all their composure and confidence and Town began passing with purpose and more assurance.

But Solomon Nwabuokei intercepted Niall Maher's sloppy pass inside the Halifax half, and won a contentious penalty after surging into the box.

Town boss Pete Wild went from holding his head his his hands at the interception of the pass to throwing his arms about in ire when the penalty was awarded, with his players crowding round referee Elliott Swallow.

Maguire-Drew blasted in from the spot, and on the balance of play, the hosts deserved to be level, but it felt no less galling for Town.

But, four minutes later, Matt Warburton's shot was saved and Woods tapped in the rebound to restore the visitors' lead.

For Halifax, justice was done.

The Shaymen had got better as the opening half went on, growing from a timid start to become much more competitive; wing-backs Jay Benn and Jack Senior epitomising their efforts with energetic, combative displays, while Woods and Luke Summerfield began to see more of the ball in midfield.

Summerfield's sumptuous, sweeping, sensational first-time cross-field pass picked out Senior moments after the restart, and from his through ball, Waters finished coolly across goal from the left of the box, a goal equally as stylish and stunning as Debrah's.

Town should have had a fourth when Maher's header hit the bar, Tom Bradbury's follow up was kept out by keeper Craig Ross and then Warburton fired wide from the edge of the box.

Even the referee wasn't on Woking's side any longer, booking Campbell for simulation when the hosts wanted a penalty.

When another penalty appeal was rejected minutes later, Woking fans chanted "you don't know what you're doing" and "you're not fit to referee".

Penalty appeal peppered Woking's attacks; it was shots on target they were lacking.

The hosts' height made them a big threat at set-pieces, but Town were determined not to be bullied. They would argue they gave as good as they got in the hustle and bustle of the penalty area, Woking would argue it went overboard.

The hosts were dominant side, and their pressure was rewarded when Oakley pounced on a loose ball in the box and swept a curling shot into the far corner.

Tensions were rising as Town's lead looked increasingly frail, and Pete Wild was booked by the referee for some over-zealous protestations on the touchline. The Town boss was cutting a nervous figure, pacing the technical area and unable to stand still.

He was generally looking in only one direction as Woking repeatedly surged forward towards the Town box.

It was relentless pressure, with Sam Johnson producing a superb save to keep out substitute Kane Thompson-Sommers' thunderous shot, and then saving Maguire-Drew's curler moments later.

Woking pressed and pushed, but Town held out, with Maher, Debrah and Bradbury defending resiliently.

Woking: Ross, Lofthouse, McNerney, Diarra, Casey, Ince, Nwabuokei, Champion (Thompson-Sommers 66), Maguire-Drew, Campbell (Johnson 75), Oakley. Subs not used: Smith, Allarakhia.

Scorers: Maguire-Drew (40), Oakley (68)

Shots on target: 6

Shots off target: 8

Corners: 12

Halifax: Johnson, Benn (Warren 88), Debrah, Maher, Bradbury, Senior, Summerfield (Green 69), Woods, Slew (Allen 75), Warburton, Waters. Subs not used: Spence, Gilmour

Scorers: Debrah (24), Woods (44), Waters (46)

Shots on target: 5

Shots off target: 7

Corners: 3

Attendance: 3,068 (71 away fans)

Referee: Elliott Swallow

Town man of the match: A few contenders, but Jesse Debrah takes it for his brilliant goal and an impressive debut performance in defence.