Rude awakening for Hawks at Woking

Pompey boss praise for riding out defensive storm

There was little festive cheer for the Hawks after they slipped to a 3-1 defeat against Woking at the Kingfield Stadium.

The groundstaff and volunteers of the hosts performed miracles getting tonnes of ice off the pitch covers to enable the game to go ahead.

It was the only game in the whole Blue Square programme to be played and Woking's reward was three points – a result which sees them leapfrog the Hawks in the league table.

Hawks manager Shaun Gale felt his side didn't deserve to lose but must have sensed it wasn't going to be his day when the referee inadvertently provided the perfect assist for Woking's second goal.

'We could and should have got something from this game,' said Gale.

'I don't think we deserved to lose.

'Once we got to grips with things and overcame a few problems I thought we did okay.

'It has been difficult not being able to play and work on certain things and having to make changes because of injuries and suspensions.

'Their first goal came at the wrong time for us, though it was a great touch and a great finish.

'We got ourselves back in the game with a great free-kick but unfortunately the referee then gets in the way and their lad smashes in their second goal.

'There is absolutely nothing you can do about things like that and I felt sorry for my players.

'In the second period we came out and camped in their territory for most of the half.

'I thought we should have had a penalty and needed to have a greater cutting edge and take our chances.

'Then we shoot ourselves in the foot with a silly goal at the end.'

In the opening stages, the effects of the enforced break on both teams was clear as they struggled to find any rhythm.

It was the home side who shook off the rust first, though, and twice Aaron Howe came to the Hawks' rescue with outstanding point-blank saves.

But there was nothing Howe could do about Woking's stunning individual opener after 18 minutes from Richard Anane.

He knocked the ball over Sam Pearce, burst past the defender and, without breaking stride, smashed a wonderful first-time volley past Howe high into the net from 20 yards.

The Hawks hit back just before the half-hour with an equally stunning strike from Mustafa Tiryaki.

After a foul on the lively Giuseppe Sole 25 yards out, Tiryaki hammered a thunderbolt of a free-kick past the despairing dive of Andy Little and into the roof of the net.

Two minutes later, the visitors were extremely unfortunate to fall behind for a second time.

Jake Newton's clearance from just inside his own area rebounded off referee Colin Lymer and straight into the path of Joe Keehan, who fired his shot into the top corner.

It was the perfect assist.

Both teams went close in the second half, with the woodwork rescuing the Hawks when Keehan smashed a fierce shot against the angle of the bar and post.

The Hawks' hopes were finally extinquished a minute from time when Moses Adebola collected a long ball over a static visitors' defence and neatly chipped his shot over the advancing Howe and into the net.

'Defensively, we haven't done well enough and we missed the suspended Ian Simpemba,' said Gale.

'We have to get back to keeping clean sheets and being solid again.

'It is important we return to being hard to beat.'