Sickener for Alty as last-gasp goal wins it for Woking

Words John Edwards | Pictures Noah Shulman-Miller

A breakaway goal in stoppage time left Altrincham shocked to the core as recently-rejuvenated Woking recorded their third Vanarama National League win in a row and dealt the Robins' play-off hopes a telling blow in the process at The J.Davidson Stadium.

A game that was largely featureless, in stark contrast to Tuesday night's incident-packed win over Dorking Wanderers, looked to be drifting towards a scoreless draw as it entered the first of three added minutes.

If anything, Alty seemed the likelier side to snatch a late winner after substitute Justin Amaluzor threatened on the right side of the Woking area and won a corner, to the raucous delight of a rammed Golf Road End behind the goal.

Instead, in an entirely unforeseen development that reduced the decibel levels to zero, Woking cleared their lines, substitute Kevin Berkoe picked up possession midway inside his own half and a pass was measured to perfection for Ricky Korboa to latch on to and burst clear before finishing past Ethan Ross in emphatic style.

There was no way back for Alty in the two extra minutes that remained, and suddenly there wasn't even a solitary point to console the Robins for a performance that had been strangely subdued and lacking the usual conviction all afternoon.

After a low-key opening quarter-of-an-hour, the game sprang into life thanks to a flash of brilliance from Chris Conn-Clarke.

A foul by Timi Odusina on Dior Angus gave Alty a free-kick 20 yards out slightly to the left of the D. There was a discernible air of expectation as Conn-Clarke and Alex Newby stood over it, with the former a short odds favourite to pull rank and take the responsibility.

So it proved as Conn-Clarke stepped up to wrap his right boot round the ball and whip it towards the top corner with curl, pace and pinpoint accuracy. It looked a goal all over until Will Jääskeläinen flung himself full length with an outstretched right hand that just managed to claw it away from the angle of post and bar.

Such a piece of agility and athleticism would surely have had his dad, former Bolton keeper Jussi, beaming with pride, particularly as the ball appeared to have gone past him as he strained his arm to palm it to safety.

Fit-again Alty keeper Ross was having a much quieter time of it on his return to the starting Xl, though the Robins were indebted to Eddy Jones for some alert and brave defending in the 40th minute.

Jones read the danger signs when a low left-wing cross reached Curtis Edwards near the penalty spot, and as the Woking midfielder controlled the ball and fired a shot in one movement, Alty's left-back threw himself in the way to pull off a crucial block.

Woking began the second half on the front foot, but two more vital blocks by Alty players, this time from Isaac Marriott and Lewis Baines, kept them at bay.

With the Robins finding it hard to impose themselves on a tricky surface, manager Phil Parkinson decided on a change in the 64th minute, with Amaluzor making a welcome return to action in place of Matty Kosylo.

There was a double escape for Alty that owed everything to brilliant goalkeeping and outstanding defending in the 78th minute.

A deflected shot by Korboa was looping into the top left corner until Ross twisted and took off to his right to touch it on to the bar. The Alty keeper's heroics looked like being in vain as the ball dropped for Charley Kendall to head towards an empty net, only for Lewis Banks to pop up from nowhere and execute a spectacular goalline clearance, hooking the ball over his head when all seemed lost.

Shortly after, it was the Robins pouring forward in search of a breakthrough as Angus set his sights inside the area, only for a defender's last-ditch tackle to stop him in his tracks.

And so to added time, and heartbreak for the Robins as the tantalising prospect of a last-gasp winner, with a corner being swung into the Woking area, suddenly unravelled as Woking capitalised on acres of empty space in the Alty half and scooped up the points with Korboa's assured finish.

Harvey Nichols Man Of The Match | Isaac Marriott

Altrincham Ross; Banks, E.Jones, Baines, Osborne (Wilson, 75'), Kosylo (Amaluzor, 64'), Marriott (c), Conn-Clarke, Angus (Roscoe, 81'), Cooper, Newby. Subs not used: Gould, Mooney.

Woking Jääskeläinen; Moss, Casey (c), Cuthbert, Korboa, Oyeleke (Berkoe, 20'), Odusina, Anderson (Pavey, 86'), Kelly-Evans, Edwards, Kendall. Subs not used: Wilkinson, Smith, Osew. 

HT 0-0

Goals None | Korboa 90'+1 (Berkoe)

Yellows Amaluzor 87' | Kelly-Evans 87'

Reds None | None

Referee Zak Kettle

Assistants Lewis Mansfield-King & Ryan McIlravey

Fourth official Matthew Scholes

Attendance 2,138 (113 away fans)

Next Up

It's York City at the J.Davidson Stadium on Tuesday - kick-off at 7:45pm. Get your tickets right here for the midweek clash.

We welcome the Darby Rimmer MND Foundation's March of the Day initiative as our match day charity.

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