After a first-half under the cosh for a spell at Woking, Garry Hill’s demand of his players was that they won the second half – and that they did, albeit later than perhaps their manager’s blood pressure preferred.
Myles Weston’s goal deep into additional time rescued a point for the Fleet with the league leaders two goals to the good heading into the final seven minutes.
“We were very positive at half-time,” Hill told BBC Radio Kent’s Charles Webster. “And I said all you’ve got to do is go and win the second half and we’ve got a result here. I thought from a neutral point of view it must have been a tremendous game to watch. “
Fleet were certainly better in the second 45, helped as much by a tactical switch midway through the first period as anything else.
“I had to change the formation,” Hill said. “Myles Weston was booked, it was always going to be hard for him in trying to contain [Dave] Tarpey. I felt from the time we changed that with Weston going further up the pitch, that way we were getting hold of the game.”
And the manager praised the goalscorer’s performance, with Weston helping to take the game to Woking after a first-half spent on the back foot.
“I thought Myles Weston was brilliant today,” he said. “He asked so many questions. When you think of his mobility and stamina, what he gets through at his age up and down, and then all of a sudden we get a free kick. It was great execution and it’s two apiece.”
Woking opened the scoring courtesy of a terrific strike by Southampton loanee Tyreke Johnson, although Hill felt his defenders might have intervened before the shot was taken.
“We started quite bright, I was disappointed with the goal from the point of view that we had opportunities with Jack King and Lawrie Wilson to take command of the situation,” he said. “But the boy’s picked the ball up, drove inside and a wonderful shot. You can see why he’s at a Premiership club – a wonderful, wonderful shot. At that time we were hanging on the ropes. Being fair to Woking they had a spell for 15-20 minutes where if they’d got a second goal they could have blown us away. “
But Fleet were much more assured after the break and had chances before Woking missed their penalty early into the second period.
“I think we had three very good chances in the first five minutes of the second half to not only equalise but to go in front,” Hill said. “Bally had one that looked like it was kicked off the line, Alex Reid’s whipped a ball in after Weston’s gone down and pulled it to the post and how Josh [Umerah] hasn’t headed it I’ll never know. We were on top at that time but we needed a goal and when you’re on top of teams you need to punish them and we never punished them. We always knew there was going to be a risk. We had to push on a little bit from 3-5-2 to near enough a 3-4-3, we were being brave and bold.”
Woking’s second goal came off the back of a penalty shout for the Fleet when Josh Umerah seemed to be held down and pushed inside the box.
“Fifteen seconds before, Josh Umerah is fouled in the back without a doubt in the box. A lot of referees would have given it, then they go straight up the other end and we find ourselves 2-0 down and a lot of people would think that’s the end of it. But all credit to the players, we dug in deep, there was always going to be an opportunity for us if we stuck at it.”
Umerah even had a late chance to win the game after an error in the Woking defence.
“It was there [to be won],” Hill agreed. “The lad in the middle of defence knocked the ball off his chest and it looked like Josh got there first and I think he’s got it caught under his feet but it was a great opportunity for us to take the lead. They’ve had a couple of opportunities as well and I think they’ll look at it and say 2-0 was flattering to them at the time. They’d missed a penalty but at 2-0 up, if you don’t win the game with 12-14 minutes to go, you have to look at your own house.”
As far as his own side are concerned, Hill is looking at the form over the last six games as clear signs of an upward curve – albeit one where draws need to turn into wins.
“It’s a few draws,” Hill admitted, “but when you come from five straight defeats and all of a sudden you’ve lost one in six, you’re going [the right] way. I think there’s common sense at the football club and at the end of the day, it’s a results business. But we’ve had 15 new players come in this year. We’ve had a hard summer, three players on June 28th and meant to be training June 29th. It’s been tough but I do see positives and over the last six games, apart from the Aldershot game, there’s been competitive, consistent performances and now we’ve got to turn the draws into wins. We created chances today even though Woking have as well – I’ll go home tonight happy on the grounds we’ve not got beat and overall it’s a fair result.
“I don’t think we look like a team who are in the lower reaches or second from bottom when you come away to Woking who have done superbly. When we showed the character we showed and the way we played against a team who have only [dropped] seven points on top of the league, to come back to a 2-2 draw, that says a great deal.”