(Luer 8′, 24′, Cadogan 64′)
(Reid 9′, Janneh 80′, Wynter 90′)
United secured a point in dramatic circumstances at the Laithwaite Community Stadium, as they battled back from two goals down to secure a vital 3-3 draw.
Greg Luer scored either side of a Jamie Reid response inside a frenetic first half-hour to put the home side in control, before a second-half Keiron Cadogan strike looked to have secured all three points. United though, hit back in battling fashion, with Saikou Janneh reducing the arrears with ten minutes left, and Ben Wynter firing home a 90th minute leveller.
Gary Johnson was boosted by the return to fitness of Saikou Janneh and Jamie Sendles-White, with Janneh replacing Ryan Dickson in the starting line-up. Sendles-White joined Dickson on the substitutes bench, at the expense of Olaf Koszela.
In a highly-charged atmosphere, the game began in frantic fashion.
With just seven minutes gone, United came within inches of taking an early lead. A ball into the box found Reid, who smacked the ball against the post.
Seconds later, they were punished for the miss. Jean-Yves Koue Niate initially looked to have been fouled, but Luer raced on, and fired diagonally past MacDonald to give The Cards a dream start.
The response from Johnson’s men though was immediate. A long ball forward found Reid in space, and this time there was to be no reprieve for Woking, as his right-footed effort was stroked past Ross and into the back of the net to level the scores.
The end-to-end action continued, with both promotion rivals continuing to trade punches.
A MacDonald clearance so nearly put Reid back in, and then at the other end, ex-United defender Ben Gerring headed wide from a corner.
Woking though, made their next chance count on 24 minutes.
Luer used his pace to break through the Torquay backline, and with only MacDonald to beat, he once again drove the ball past the Gulls’ keeper to put the home side back in front.
Just short of the half-hour, United made two substitutions. First, Asa Hall, who was forced off during the midweek win over Chelmsford, finally succumbed, with Jake Andrews taking his place. Moments later, Keating, who had been on the receiving end of some rough treatment early on, was replaced by Dickson.
On 31 minutes a defensive mix-up let Janneh in. Without much time to steady himself, he fired in towards the Woking net, but Ross produced a fine save to prevent a second equaliser.
Woking were beginning to enjoy the bulk of possession, with United content to hit their opponents on the break.
After winning a corner on 41 minutes, the home side were denied when Liam Davis did brilliantly to head a goal-bound shot over the bar.
The half-time whistle blew with United a goal down, and knowing a decisive response would be needed to turn the game around.
Unfortunately though, it was Woking that began the second-half on top as they pinned United back inside their own half.
The Cards created and misses a couple of half-chances, before scoring again in the 64th minute.
Dickson won a corner for United, but as the ball was cleared, Torquay’s defenders were caught out of position. Cadogan showed neat pace and skill to drive towards the penalty area, and after exchanging passes with Armani Little, he shot past MacDonald to put Woking 3-1 up.
With nothing to lose, Johnson’s men had to respond. Janneh, always a willing runner, fired in a low ball that Gerring just about cleared. Any other connection would have seen the deficit reduced.
For a while it seemed as though the match watch was drifting away from The Gulls, but with ten minutes remaining, Janneh found space again, and this time threw his side a lifeline.
After several United corners amounted to nothing, Andrews’ flag kick was headed back into the mix by Dickson, and Janneh was there to slam home his 18th goal of the season…2-3.
Torquay knew a goal in their favour now would be a huge boost for their promotion chances, and with four minutes to go, they were handed a numerical advantage.
Reid outpaced Gerring, and with the ex-Torquay centre-back already committed to his challenge, the referee had no choice but to issue a second booking, and Woking were down to ten men.
No-one could claim this was a vintage performance by Johnson’s men, but United kept on going, and with the game about to enter injury time, the game took one last twist.
Dickson took a long throw, which was only half-cleared. Sensing that this was his side’s moment to pounce, Wynter showed no hesitation and let fly with a drive that flew into the net. Against the odds, United were level.
Torquay had to weather a few more dangerous moments, but were in no mood to let it slip, and when the final whistle came, the celebrations amongst the players and travelling contingent signified what could turn out to be a defining result in the context of the title race.
Several times in the last few weeks, United have been asked questions befitting of potential champions. Not once have they faltered with their answer.
Of course, a little more work is required before any real celebrations can begin, and all attention now turns to the visit of Eastbourne to Plainmoor next Saturday.
With Johnson’s side now tantalisingly close to the ultimate prize, and every three points proving absolutely crucial, we call on our devoted supporters to pack out Plainmoor and help see the boys home.
Seven points clear, four games left.
Yellow Army, see you in seven days.
Woking: 1. Craig Ross, 2. Jack Cook, 3. Josua Casey (c), 4. Scott Durojaiye, 5. Ben Gerring, 6. Moussa Diarra, 7. James Ferry, 8. Armani Little (14. Nathan Collier), 9. Greg Luer, 10. Max Kretzschmar, 11. Kieron Cadogan. SUBS NOT USED: 12. Harvey Bradley, 15. Paul Hodges, 16. Reisse Allassani, 18. Sam Mason
Yellow Card: Gerring (20′), Durojaiye (28′), Kretzschmar (45′), Little (45′), Ross (78′)
Red Card: Gerring (86′)
TUFC: 1. Shaun MacDonald, 2. Ben Wynter, 3. Liam Davis, 7. Ruairi Keating (16. Ryan Dickson 29′), 8. Asa Hall (c) (18. Jake Andrews 28′), 10. Saikou Janneh, 11. Connor Lemonheigh-Evans, 15. Jean-Yves Koue Niate, 17. Kyle Cameron, 19. Jamie Reid, 20. Kalvin Lumbombo-Kalala (14. Frank Vincent 76′). SUBS NOT USED: 6. Jamie Sendles-White, 13. George Burton
Yellow Card: Dickson (52′), Andrews (62′), MacDonald (90′)
Attendance: 4,589 (1,403 away)