Woking’s long wait for a win at the Fleet goes on as two-goal substitute Tomi Adeloye sparked a well-received revival to give the home side all three points.
Alan Dowson’s side looked like they had their first win in 15 games and 42 years at Stonebridge Road when a second-half penalty was converted but Adeloye had other ideas when he strode off the bench with half an hour still to play.
There was one change for Kevin Watson’s side as the manager faced further adversity in team selection ahead of kick-off. Jack King was injured following his 90 minutes at Torquay so Frankie Sutherland slotted in there while the expected return from suspension of Josh Payne was curtailed as the midfielder earned a further three-match ban following submission of the referee’s report to the FA.
There was plenty of endeavour early on from both sides but a lack of quality passes into both teams’ front men.
Woking could have been ahead as early as the 6th minute when Jayden Harris rifled a shot from behind a crowd of players that David Gregory saw late and the goalkeeper managed to get two hands to it to push it away for a corner.
It was a physical encounter with Fleet’s big men squaring up to Woking’s even bigger players, Gozie Ugwu and Josh Umerah made to look smaller in stature by the 6ft 6in frame of Moussa Diarra. At the other end, Woking new boy Alex Wall wasn’t giving much ground up against Ayo Obileye either.
The highlight of the first half was probably a two-minute drop-ball confusion where the referee, three Woking players and Umerah continually misunderstood the situation of the new ruling.
On 19 minutes Adam Mekki – who covered plenty of ground with some strong running – saw a free-kick curl into Craig Ross’s arms. He then teed up Jermaine McGlashan for a good cross on to Umerah’s head but the striker couldn’t keep it down.
Fleet’s best chance came on 35 minutes when a free-kick arrowed into the Woking box and as their defenders watched it, Obileye ghosted in to a good position but his header lacked power.
Woking enjoyed possession but rarely threatened, though several balls into Jake Hyde’s feet weren’t far off troubling the Fleet back line. When Hyde did get a shot away, as he managed with a neat turn on 42 minutes, he found Gregory behind it.
It was a solid enough first-half from a Fleet point of view but Woking emerged with a little more menace down their right flank in the second half.
Wall let fly with a powerful free-kick from a decent position that Gregory watched skip well wide of the target but Woking soon went one better.
On 52 minutes a cross from the left looked to be heading into Gregory’s hands when Wall went sprawling in the box for what the referee deemed a push by Jamie Grimes.
The Fleet goalkeeper got a touch on Hyde’s spot-kick but not enough to prevent it travelling over the line and Woking had the crucial breakthrough.
Fleet had few options but to carry on plugging away and to their credit, they did just that. On the hour mark, the red shirts upped the tempo and the fans went with them.
Grimes twice felt he was pushed in the box as Fleet attacked and Ugwu went ever so close, his effort from a penalty-area scramble cleared away from the line.
Harris, already on a caution, was very fortunate after a couple of additional fouls to avoid a second and he was taken off on 62 minutes. But it was the Fleet substitution that changed the game, as Adeloye replaced John Goddard.
Two Woking attacks on 66 minutes might have extended their lead, Lawrie Wilson nicking it off the toes of Hyde before a second cross from the left needed the same man to hook it away from the corner of the goal.
Having survived that, Fleet equalised with 20 minutes left. A disputed free-kick from the right was driven in by Mekki and as it arched towards Adeloye, the substitute glanced a firm header through a gap that beat Ross for the equaliser.
Sensing something more, the home side were hurried and anxious in their desire to press on for the win and it made for occasionally worrying moments in defence.
Adeloye was busy and buzzing and he almost had another opening from a delightful short pass by the eagle-eyed McGlashan but Diarra muscled the goalscorer away from the box.
Fleet kept going, however, and were rewarded two minutes from time. A mistake by Kane Ferdinand 40 yards out was pounced on by Adeloye. He released Ugwu who in turn threaded a pass back through to the onrushing Adeloye. The substitute still had plenty to do but he got a yard clear and despatched a cool effort low into the far corner to send the home fans into delirium.
That wasn’t quite the end as four minutes of time added on produced a final Woking chance, goalkeeper Ross coming up and producing a delivery a winger would have been proud of but the Fleet defence stood firm.
EUFC: Gregory, Wilson, Grimes, Ekpiteta, Obileye, Sutherland, Mekki, Goddard (Adeloye 63), McGlashan, Ugwu, Umerah. Subs not used: Egan, Achuba, Dainkeh, Palmer
WFC: Ross, Donnellan, Casey, Parry, Diarra, Poku, Harris (Kretzschmar 62), Ferdinand, Neufville, Wall (Tarpey 76), Hyde. Subs not used: Howes, Gerring, Collier