Woking 1 Stockport County 2
Vanarama National League
20th November 2021
The Cards and The Hatters came into their Saturday afternoon match separated in the table only by Woking’s superior goal difference. However, Stockport’s expensively assembled side contained a number of players with football league experience reflecting the difference in the financial power of the two clubs.
Dowse made no changes to the side that beat Southend 2-0, retaining the back 3 used in that match including Casey in the left centre back position, whilst Annesley, back from international duty with Gibraltar, returned to the squad. They were up against a Stockport team that achieved a remarkable turnaround against Bolton in their FA Cup 1st round replay on Wednesday night, hopes were high that after a dramatic 120 minutes of football and a short turnaround, Stockport would be powerless to resist a strong Woking side.
2,753 fans were in attendance for the visit of Stockport, managed by Dave Challinor in only his 4th game in charge after leaving League 2 Hartlepool. Although unbeaten in his first 3 games, Challinor’s Stockport were still looking for their first league win since he joined. Unfortunately for Woking, despite their exertions in mid-week, Stockport came to Kingfield full of energy and ability, clearly in the mood to pick up where they left off against Bolton.
The game started with Woking attacking the LGS and in the first 5 minutes both teams struggled to establish a foothold in the game as neither side was able to establish a foothold in the game. It was on the 5 minute mark that The Hatters managed to put together the first meaningful attack of the game. County’s number seven, MacAuley Southam-Hales made quick progress down the right and managed to evade the attention of the Woking defence whipping in an inviting low cross. Paddy Madden was able to tuck the ball away from close range, leaving Ross with no chance.
After finding the net, Stockport immediately found their rhythm and the game started to take on a worrying complexion. Just a minute after the goal, the pacey Southam-Hales broke free once again, crossing from the right, the resultant flicked shot was tame and collected easily by Ross. There was an early booking for County’s Jordan Keane for a foul on Campbell, but it made little difference to proceedings. Woking, seeing little of the ball, were unable to get out of their own half, with Stockport’s defence dealing easily with the longer balls sent forward by Ross and the Woking defence. There were hearts in mouths for a brief moment on the 15 minute mark as that man Southam-Hales went down in the box as Casey stuck out a leg. The referee, unimpressed, waved away the appeals.
Further chances fell to Stockport, with Madden’s tame header the best of them until the cards finally managed to put together their first meaningful opportunity of the game. After getting forward and winning the corner, the resultant kick was cleared and fell to Nwabuokei, who had his first shot blocked before he was fouled on the edge of the County area. Kretzschmar stepped up to take the free kick, around twenty yards out to the right of the goal, but his dangerous looking shot only managed to find the side netting.
Stockport, made another half hearted appeal for a penalty after around 20 minutes, but once again the referee waved away the protests. Woking continued to struggle to get out of their half and disaster struck after half an hour. The ball bounced around on the edge of the Woking box and it was that man Madden once again. Stepping on to the loose ball, just outside the area he curled an unstoppable effort from left to right, beating Ross at his far post.
The 44th minute saw Woking’s best opportunity to get back into the game before the break as the ball fell to Woking’s danger-man, Tahvon Campbell. The ball fell to Campbell who was able to make space for a shot. Despite the tight angle, his powerful effort from the right hand side needed a smart save from Hinchcliffe in the County goal, who palmed out and was fortunate to see the ball cleared for a corner. With 1 minute added on, there was just enough time for Stockport to fashion a gilt-edged opportunity to put the game out of sight. Some quick interplay and a smart through ball set Antoni Sarcevic and, as he bore down on the Woking goal he lifted the ball over Ross, but saw his shot bounce wide of the Woking goal.
Things hadn’t gone well for Woking in the first half. Southam-Hales had the run of the right flank for Stockport and Madden looked dangerous any time he had a sniff of the ball. Woking’s men will have been relieved to escape the barrage from Stockport.
Half-time: Woking 0 Stockport County 2
Dowse hardly has a reputation for changing things up at half time, but he’d clearly seen enough in the first half to make the first two changes of the match. With Annesley on for Loza, Casey made the move to Left Wing-Back. Effiong replaced Johnson providing The Cards with the physical presence up front which had clearly been missing in the first half.
Things started far better for Woking and on 48 minutes, Casey made progress down the left after some good work from Kretzschmar in the middle and he managed to get a good shot away, testing the County keeper. The ball made its way back out to Effiong, who hit it well over the bar.
As the half started to take shape, things were looking far more even between the two sides. The balls forward by Woking were starting to stick with the front men and Effiong’s physical presence made the Stockport backline, far from the most solid in the National League, look much less comfortable.
County still looked dangerous and on 55 minutes an opportunity presented itself for John Rooney on the edge of the Woking box. He fired in a stinging shot from the right hand side of the box which Ross palmed away for a corner. A minute later, Woking won a freekick from a handball offering Kretzschmar the opportunity to put it in to the box. Effiong managed to get on the end of the ball in and was unlucky to loop his header wide. On 62 minutes Rohan Ince picked up a booking for a late challenge.
Woking continued to work hard in the second half and finally, the breakthrough after 66 minutes. Kretzschmar forced his way to the byline and despite the attentions of Ash Palmer, managed to bide his time before crossing perfectly for an onrushing Campbell. The striker has been making headlines for Woking this season, but with the quality of Kretzschmar’s cross, he simply couldn’t miss from 5 yards out.
Woking, with a little over 30 minutes to rescue the game kept pushing. Stockport finally started to tire after their busy night in midweek and made their first two changes. Arjan Raikhy and Ollie Crankshaw entered the fray as Rooney and Antoni Sarcevic had the chance to rest their legs.
The balance of play clearly in Woking’s favour now, with Stockport restricted to a counter attacking gameplan. On 74 minutes Effiong had a fantastic chance to level. The ball came in and he took it well on his chest, but ultimately he was too close to the keeper who smothered at his feet.
Casey challenges for a ball
78 minutes on the clock and Woking’s next chance fell to Campbell, showing exactly why he has been attracting so much praise. Following a neat ball over the top, his quick feet took him away from the County defenders on the right hand side of the box. Around 10 yards out, with the angle closing, he unleashed a fierce shot which Hinchcliffe managed to keep out with his feet.
A minute later and a chance for Stockport to finish it. Crankshaw, with fresh legs, broke clear down the left after a good through ball. As it looked for all the world that he would make it three, he was chased down by Annesley, forced away from goal and ultimately Ross came out and made the save.
A further change for Woking saw Maguire-Drew on for Nwabuokei before County replaced Scott Quigley with Ben Barclay. Woking continued to press for an equaliser and were only kept out by last ditch Stockport defending. Both Palmer and Hinchcliffe managing to get behind Woking efforts before, ultimately, Maguire-Drew’s stoppage time effort went wide and with it, Woking’s hopes of taking something from the game.
Following their second half showing, Dowse will have been disappointed not to see his side take something from the game. Stockport themselves proved this week that a two goal deficit is not insurmountable. Dowse kept his team on the pitch for a debrief after the match and with 7 wins and 8 losses in the league this season will be desperate to see his team improve their consistency if there is to be any chance of sneaking into the play-off places by the end of the season.
13 Craig Ross, 2 Kyran Lofthouse, 3 Josh Casey (c), 4 Tom Champion, 6 Moussa Diarra, 7 Jamar Loza (16 Louie Annesley 46’), 8 Solomon Mwabuokei (18 Jordan Maguire-Drew 82’), 10 Max Kretzschmar, 11 Tyreke Johnson (9 Inih Effiong 46’), 19 Tahvon Campbell, 24 Rohan Ince
Tarryn Allarakhia, Kane Thompson-Sommers
1 Ben Hinchcliffe, 3 Mark Kitching, 5 Ash Palmer, 7 MacAulay Southam Hales, 8 John Rooney (15 Arjan Raikhy 70’), 9 Paddy Madden, 16 Jordan Keane, 17 Ryan Rydel, 18 Ryan Croasdale, 22 Scott Quigley (6 Ben Barclay 83’), 23 Antoni Sarcevic (27 Ollie Crankshaw 70’)
Will Collar, Alex Reid
Madden 5’, 29’
Keane 7’, Southam-Hales 90+5’
2,753 (294 away fans)
Man of the Match: Rohan Ince
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