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Gutsy Cards upset the odds

Brian Caffarey - 27th January 2018

Gutsy Cards upset the odds Woking 1 AFC Fylde 0
Vanarama National League
27 January 2018

A gutsy, committed, wholehearted performance saw the Cards pull off a surprise home win this afternoon against an in-form AFC Fylde side, with Lazar Stojsavljevic’s 49th minute header proving the decisive blow. The young defender, awarded the ‘man of the match’ award by the sponsors, ended the game lying unconscious on the pitch but, fortunately, seems to be making a good recovery after his injury caused huge concern to team mates and spectators alike.

The two sides went into this match with sharply contrasting recent fortunes. The Cards had gained only one win in their last 16 league games, although they had picked up a decent point away at Gateshead midweek. The Coasters, with the best form in the top five divisions since the New Year, had notched up six wins in their last seven games, including defeating league leaders Macclesfield 6-0 last weekend and beating Maidstone United 3-0 midweek.

Anthony Limbrick made two changes to the starting line-up against Gateshead. With Joey Jones ruled out through injury, he brought in Stojsaveljevic, with Richard Orlu, who had been ill during the week, named as a substitute. An unenforced change was starting with Jason Banton in place of Jonny Edwards, with the lively Reece Grego-Cox given a lone role up front, with Charlie Carter in close support from midfield. With new signing Damon Lathrope on the bench, Fabio Saraiva dropped out of the sixteen.

On a wet, cold, miserable afternoon both sides started brightly. The pacy, aggressive Grego-Cox was not quite able to reach a ball slipped through to him by Banton, while the Coasters’ Luke Burke had Nathan Baxter scrambling as he watched a strike fly past his far post. An uncharacteristic lapse by Kane Ferdinand allowed the visitors another opportunity but top scorer Danny Rowe chose to head down in vain to a team mate instead of going for goal.

The Cards, working hard to close down their opponents in midfield, gradually got more of a foothold, whilst not being able to move the ball forward very productively. But that changed soon after the 15-minute mark when, inspired – as they were throughout the afternoon – by Anthony Cook, they applied some genuine pressure. Cook’s curled free-kick was met by a stretching Josh Staunton at the far post, the ball hitting the underside of the bar before being cleared. Another wicked Cook cross forced a corner, which Staunton, from a Banton cross after the corner had initially been cleared, nearly reached at the other post.

On 25 minutes the unlucky Louis Ramsay was forced off with a knee injury. Richard Orlu came on at centre back and proceeded to play an important role in repelling Fylde attacks, especially in the air, while Stojsavljevic moved to left back.

After successfully defending several Fylde corners, the Cards broke quickly, with the ever-willing Grego-Cox chasing down the ball and driving into the area, only to be foiled by a sprawling save from the Coasters’ keeper. Minutes later, a clever back header from Grego-Cox nearly put Carter through. Cook, with his pace and quick feet, continued to threaten, putting in a decent cross, which led to a weak-ish shot from Banton.

The visitors ramped up the pressure as half-time approached. Successive corners were cleared, and Baxter did well to take the ball cleanly from a shot which zipped off the slippery surface. But Fylde then produced a superb move which completely opened up the Woking defence. Finley was put clear on the left of the area but took one touch too many and then skied the ball over the bar. A huge let-off for the Cards!

Woking countered with a terrific run by Cook down the left, which earned a free-kick, unfortunately over-hit and wasted. But there was more drama to come as Rowe shot across the goalmouth. Matt Young sliced his attempted clearance horribly and was mightily relieved to see Baxter pounce on the ball before it could cross the line.

In added time Baxter made another good save before Charlie Carter’s deflected shot fell comfortably for the Coasters’ keeper.

Half-time: Woking 0 AFC Fylde 0

An early highlight after the break was a clever flick by Grego-Cox which took out two defenders, before feeding Banton for an awkward cross.

There was much better to come for Anthony Limbrick’s side. Cook curled a cross to the far post, where Stojsavljevic headed back to the far post, where a combination of woodwork and perhaps a slight fumble from the keeper saw the ball cross the line to the delight of Woking players and fans alike.

However, Rowe threatened to make it a short-lived lead as he surged into the left side of the box, only to be foiled by a decent save from the Cards’ on-loan keeper.

The Cards continued to hold their own, putting Fylde’s midfield and defence under pressure with quick harrying, and being able to relieve away pressure through the ready running of Cook and Grego-Cox, who won several corners.

Fylde had perhaps their best chance of an equaliser in the 62nd minute. Serhat Tasdemir, who had just come on as a substitute, was put clear in the left channel but, with only Baxter to beat, finished poorly.

On 65 minutes Cards fans got their first sighting of Damon Lathrope in a Woking shirt as he replaced Chez Isaac in midfield. At this stage of the game the Cards began to look a little ragged as Fylde pressed forward, Baxter twice punching clear before holding, low down, another strike from the menacing Rowe.

Woking responded with breaks upfield from Cook and Grego-Cox, with Staunton heading over from a corner, before pinball at the other end saw Rowe shoot wide. As the minutes ticked down, Cook earned a couple of free-kicks to keep the play safely away from the Woking end. With Jonny Edwards now on for Banton, the Cards produced their best move of the match in the 80th minute, switching the attack from side to side before the Fylde keeper held Cook’s shot at the second attempt.

A flicked pass looked towards Rowe looked as though it might undo all Woking’s good work but, fortunately, he couldn’t control the ball and it ran through to Baxter.

Fylde, enjoying plenty of possession, hammered at Woking’s door but the Cards’ defence remained steadfast, clearing the ball – if only to see it quickly returned again.

With four minutes of added time finishing, the game ended bizarrely – and very worryingly – with Stojsavlevic lying unconscious on the pitch, surrounded by medical personnel, after a heavy challenge in the air.

So, the very long wait for three points ended on an afternoon when most observers would have predicted a comfortable away win. But, although the Cards had to ride their luck on a couple of occasions against a Fylde side which did not hit the heights of recent performances, this was a well-deserved win from a side which more than held their own for much of the game and posed quite a few questions too for the visiting defence. Cook and Grego-Cox contributed hugely up front; the midfield worked tirelessly; and the defence, with Staunton, Orlu and Stojsavljevic especially solid, played well in front of Baxter, whose handling was faultless on a potentially difficult day for keepers. With a fortnight’s rest, the Cards now have to target another home win in an important fixture against financially-stricken, lowly Chester.

Woking: Nathan Baxter, Louis Ramsay (Richard Orlu 25), Lazar Stojsavljevic, Josh Staunton, Matt Young, Jason Banton (Jonny Edwards 80), Kane Ferdinand, Chez Isaac (Damon Lathrope 65), Anthony Cook, Reece Grego-Cox

Unused subs: Sam Mason, Declan Appau

Goalscorer: Lazar Stojsavljevic 49

Booked: Chez Isaac

AFC Fylde: Jay Lynch, Lewis Montrose, Zaine Francis-Angol, Jordan Tunnicliffe, Andrew Bond (Callum Chettle 71), Sam Finley, Danny Rowe, Jack Muldoon (Matt Blinkhorn 81), Jonny Smith (Serhat Tasdemir 61), Luke Burke, Sam Stubbs

Unused subs: Jason Taylor, Simon Grand

Sponsors’ MOTM: Lazar Stojsavlevic (pictured)

Attendance: 1865

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