Cards face challenging last away day

Glen Harrington
8:43am, Sat 22nd May 2021
Stockport County vs Woking
Vanarama National League
Saturday 22nd May 2021

Woking’s difficult season reaches its penultimate stop this afternoon as the Cards travel to play-off bound Stockport County in their final away match of the National League season.

The injury-ravaged Cards have lost 10 league matches in a row, as well as 13 of the last 14 games in all competitions and could be forgiven for fearing the worst at the prospect of facing one of the division’s most in-form teams, who have scored 67 National League goals this season, second only to leaders Sutton United. However, Alan Dowson’s side of predominately loanees and academy graduates have shown some admirable resilience over recent weeks, holding their own at both Gander Green Lane and, last time out, at Solihull Moors’ Damson Park. Veteran utility man Nathan Collier scored his first ever Woking goal to briefly bring Dowse’s side level against the Moors, only for the visitors to then concede a late winner and fall to a 2-1 defeat.

Stockport have had a strong if slightly disappointing season. The Hatters were one of the favourites for automatic promotion at the start of the campaign and despite a late run have, in truth, never come close to challenging Sutton and second-place Torquay United. Their indifferent run of form saw long-serving manager Jim Gannon step aside in January, with Brighton & Hove Albion youth team manager Simon Rusk stepping into the hot seat. They currently sit in third place with 73 points from their 40 matches, eight adrift of top spot with only six points left to play for, and a 10 point cushion on eighth place Bromley. They will, however, want to make sure of a top three finish to ensure a bye through the first round of the play-offs and they currently only lead Hartlepool United on goal difference.

Woking – Team News

Dowse only sprung one surprise against Solihull, with Mark Smith stepping in between the posts in place of Craig Ross, with the second-choice stopper potentially auditioning to continue his understudy role to Woking’s number one next season. Elsewhere, Woking fans will no doubt be keen to see more of youngsters Leo Hamblin and Joe Leslie, who continue to impress despite the results.

Stockport County – The Boss

Simon Rusk took on his first job in senior football management in January after more than five years working with Brighton’s Under-23 team. The former Scotland youth international spent his playing career as a midfielder for a number of lower league clubs, including Boston United, York City and Crawley Town, twice winning the National League and reaching an FA Trophy final. His career was cut short by injury and he retired in 2011 before moving into coaching.

One to Watch

The Hatters have a litany of stars to call upon, including striker Paddy Madden who has over 100 goals in League One to his name, and was playing in the third tier earlier this season. However, the star man remains midfielder John Rooney, brother of ex-England international Wayne, and part of the Barrow promotion-winning team last season. The set-piece specialist, who has also played at this level for the likes of Chester, Wrexham, and Guiseley, has scored 17 times this season.

Last Time Out

Woking 1-4 Stockport County – Vanarama National League (30th January 2021)

The Cards were put away with ease in the reverse fixture. The visitors raced into a three-goal lead before half-time thanks to strikes from Connor Jennings, John Rooney and Macauley Southam-Hales. Moussa Diarra pulled one back after the break, only for Alex Reid to put the icing on the cake for the Hatters just after the hour mark.

Next Up

The Cards finish their season next Saturday at home to Wealdstone when fans will be welcomed back to the Laithwaite Community Stadium!

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