Cards beaten at home as injury woes mount

Glen Harrington
12:00am, Sat 28th Oct 2017
Woking 2 Guiseley 3
Vanarama National League
28th October 2017

Woking fell to a third consecutive league defeat at the hands of struggling Guiseley with substitute Mike Fondop grabbing the winner less than two minutes after coming on.
The Cards were left to rue a combination of missed chances, sloppy defending, and a mounting injury list which looks to have claimed as many as four new victims on an entertaining but ultimately disappointing afternoon of football for the home side.

It was a game which had started with such promise for the hosts, looking to bounce back after defeats at Bromley and Dover in the last week, with academy starlet Declan Appau sending a sweet strike sailing into the top left-hand corner on his first league start for the club.

Despite a brace either side of half-time from Rowan Liburd the home side looked favourites to go on and snatch three points after Regan Charles-Cook’s fifth goal of the season; but it was Paul Cox’s men who instead had the last laugh in a topsy-turvy game as Fondop’s fine finish proved decisive – leaving Woking boss Anthony Limbrick with much to ponder ahead of next week’s FA Cup meeting with League One Bury.

Limbrick and assistant Jason Goodliffe made just one change from the side beaten at the Crabble on Tuesday, with Appau replacing striker Inih Effiong, who dropped to the bench; Jason Banton, who was injured in the warm-up that night, was replaced on the substitutes bench by Richard Orlu. The Cards lined up in a 4-3-3 formation with Appau the most advanced of the three midfielders – whilst Joe Ward started on the left of the front three alongside Charles-Cook and Jamie Philpot.

Guiseley, no doubt aware of the Cards’ recent struggles with long balls into the box, tested the Woking back-line within the first minute as full-back Darren Holden launched a monstrous throw towards the six-yard box – Joey Jones able to make the clearing header on that occasion.

But it was the home side, with six wins out of eight in the league at the Laithwaite Community Stadium before the start of play, who quickly got themselves on top. That pressure was rewarded within a quarter of an hour as Appau sharply turned after receiving a pass from Matt Young and unleashed an unstoppable shot past Jonny Maxted in the Guiseley goal. It was a feel-good moment for the youngster who was grinning from ear to ear as he celebrated with his manager.

Despite barely having a sight of goal for the first 30 minutes the visitors found themselves level just after the half-hour mark. Somewhat predictably, and despite standing up well to the aerial bombardment prior to the goal, the Cards were undone by a long throw. Holden’s long-ball wasn’t cleared and Liburd snuck the ball past Nathan Baxter from a tight angle after doing well to find space on the edge of the six-yard box.

The Cards responded well and within two minutes Philpot had flicked the ball past Maxted and looked ready to bear down on goal. That was, until, the Guiseley keeper – well out of his own penalty area – stuck out a hand and stopped the attack; a yellow card his only punishment despite the potential end result and a fortunate escape for the goalkeeper who was likely only saved by his sheer distance from his own goal.

The chances flowed as the first-half drew to a close, Liburd shooting over under pressure from Josh Staunton, before Joe Ward saw his close-range shot saved after cutting in from the wing. Appau might have done better with the follow-up as he went for placement rather than power but the Guiseley defender did well to put his body in the way.

Half-time: Woking 1 Guiseley 1

Limbrick was forced into his first change of the afternoon at the break as Staunton, only recently returned from a minor injury, failed to emerge for the second-half and was instead replaced by Orlu.

Within four minutes of the restart the visitors were ahead. In a moment that neither Baxter nor full-back Nathan Ralph will look back on fondly, the Woking defender lost possession on the edge of his own penalty area after receiving a quick throw out from his goalkeeper, and the impressive Kevan Hurst had the presence of mind to look up and find Liburd who rolled in his second of the afternoon.

Once again the Cards responded well to the setback and might have been level within five minutes, Jordan Wynter doing well to cushion Chez Isaac’s free-kick into the path of Orlu, only for the centre-back to see his ferocious drive smash agonisingly off the top of the crossbar and away to safety.

The Cards brought on Effiong just before the hour-mark as Appau, the hero of the first-half, went off holding his ankle after a heavy challenge – fingers crossed that one was nothing too serious. Woking’s number nine did make a positive impact on the game at least and immediately started causing the Guiseley defenders problems.

Indeed, it was his smart play in the penalty area that brought about the equaliser, as he played a neat one two with Charles-Cook, including a delightful back-heel from the Woking midfielder, before being hauled down in the penalty area. The referee looked set to point to the spot but instead allowed the Cards the advantage as Charles-Cook followed up and calmly slotted the ball into the bottom left-hand corner.

Sadly, the Cards bad luck continued to worsen, with Isaac needing the support of physio Prajwal Rai to help him from the field after another poor tackle – academy defender Lazar Stojsavljevic his replacement. This latest injury meant quite the reshuffle for the hosts – the teenager slotting in at left-back with Ralph pushed up into midfield and Charles-Cook moving across into the middle.

The patched up Woking defence looked all at sea when the third goal came five minutes later. Young, who had enjoyed an excellent first-half, misjudged a cross-field ball and Fondop – who had been on the pitch merely 90 seconds – held off the challenge of Wynter to score with what could well have been his first touch of the afternoon. It might have got worse for the Cards as within a minute a loose pass from Stojsavljevic put Fondop in again but this time Baxter was equal to it.

There was still time for Stojsavljevic, in the thick of the action during his brief time on the pitch, to go down after a clash of heads and, after bravely trying to continue for several minutes, have to be led woozily from the field bearing a large bandage around his temple and leave the Cards to finish the game with ten men.

Even with the man disadvantage the Cards commendably sought out the equaliser and might have had it were it not for some excellent last ditch defending from Fondop. Ward played in a super back-post corner which looked certain to be turned in by Ralph only for the striker to head the ball clear from virtually under his own crossbar.

It’s a result that will be desperately hard to take for the home side who were the better team for much of the afternoon. Unfortunately, they will be left to dwell on what might have been whilst Guiseley celebrate an unlikely victory and their first away from home in the league this season.

Anthony and his staff will now face the monumental task of picking their team up ahead of next week’s enticing FA Cup clash. They will no doubt be hoping, as will we all, that the injuries sustained today are only minor and that a list of absentees which already includes the injured Banton, Louis Ramsey, Bobson Bawling, Charlie Carter, and the suspended Kane Ferdinand – who will finish his three-match ban next Sunday – is not about to get any longer.

Woking: Nathan Baxter, Matt Young, Nathan Ralph, Josh Staunton (Richard Orlu 46), Jordan Wynter, Joey Jones, Chez Isaac (Lazar Stojsavljevic 69), Declan Appau (Inih Effiong 65), Regan Charles-Cook, Joe Ward, Jamie Philpot.

Subs not used: Sam Mason, Fabio Saraiva

Goals: Appau 14, Charles-Cook 65

Bookings: charles-Cook 65

Guiseley: Jonny Maxted, Connor Brown, Darren Holden, Chris M’Boungou, Ashley Palmer, Jake Lawlor, Alex-Ray Harvey, Kevan Hurst, Lee Molyneux (John Rooney 84), Kayode Odejayi (Jean-Yves Koue Niate 84), Rowan Liburd (Mike Fondop 72).

Subs not used: Simon Lenighan, Andy Howarth.

Goals: Liburd 34, 49, Fondop 74.

Bookings: Maxted 37, Hurst 63, Fondop 76, Rooney 86.

Attendance: 1,784

MOTM: Joey Jones – one player that the Cards will be extremely grateful to have available again after a long-term injury is their vice-captain whose all action midfield performance deserved more than to be on the losing side.

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