Cards topple leaders as fantastic home form continues

Glen Harrington
12:00am, Sat 16th Sep 2017
Woking 2 Sutton United 0
Vanarama National League
16th September 2017

Regan Charles-Cook scored twice as Woking defeated National League leaders Sutton United at the Laithwaite Community Stadium, but the scoreline told far from the full story on a memorable afternoon of action, which ended with the hosts moving to within two points of the top of the table.

After producing a commendable defensive performance for long periods of the game, particularly during a first-half in which the home side had goalkeeper Nathan Baxter to thank for keeping them in the game, it was the Cards’ pace on the counter attack that once again paid dividends as they claimed a fifth home win in six games.

The first goal arrived shortly after half-time, with Charles-Cook nodding home from close range after Josh Staunton had turned Chez Isaac’s corner goalwards, and the Charlton loanee grabbed his second deep into stoppage time as he followed up Inih Effiong’s original effort.

Sutton, who had countless chances in the first-half, grew steadily frustrated as the game wore on and were ultimately unable to breakdown the patched up Woking defence, which sadly lost full-back Louis Ramsay to a worrying looking injury mid-way through the second-half, in what was the only blemish to an otherwise superb afternoon’s work.

Woking manager Anthony Limbrick made just one change to the team that defeated Solihull Moors on Tuesday evening with Jamie Philpot making a rare start in place of Effiong. There was still no sign of injured trio Fabio Saraiva, Joey Jones and Richard Orlu, who will now likely be joined by Ramsay on the sidelines. Sutton meanwhile, who came into the game in fine form after beating Dagenham and Redbridge in mid-week, made two changes with Josh Taylor and Kieron Cadogan replacing Simon Downer and Kwame Thomas.

The visitors, who scored a stoppage time winner on Tuesday to go top of the table, continued that momentum at the start of today’s fixture – going close after just three minutes as Tommy Wright found himself in acres of space at the back-post but saw his header acrobatically tipped over by Baxter. And Woking’s number one had to be alert again soon after as he got down well to deny both Cadogan and Daniel Spence in the space of a couple of minutes.

However, his best moment came mid-way through the first-half, after Ramsay had brought down Simon Walton just on the edge of the Woking penalty area. The Chelsea loanee got down well to push away Kenny Davis’ free-kick and then, with a slice of fortune, was able to react quickly and grab hold of Wright’s poorly timed rebound attempt – the striker possibly caught by surprise with the speed of which the ball came back to him.

Woking’s best moments going forward often came through Isaac, wearing the captain’s armband in the absence or Orlu and Jones, who was once again at his best in midfield as he won loose balls and drove his side forward. But it was Philpot, full of running up front during a fairly thankless first-half, whose pressure created the Cards’ best chance of the first 45 minutes. The striker stole possession in midfield and Charles-Cook capitalised by playing Joe Ward clear down the right-hand flank. A heavy first touch from the Cards’ top scorer looked to have taken him too wide, but his exquisite low drive was still mere centimetres from finding the bottom left-hand corner as he stroked his shot across the goal, with U’s goalkeeper Jamie Butler beaten.

Half-time: Woking 0 Sutton United 0

Whilst the Cards were undoubtedly fortunate to go into the break level, they started the second-half brightly as Kane Ferdinand again found Ward in space, only for Butler to rush out quickly off his line to deny the winger and turn the ball behind for a corner. Chaos ensued from the resulting set-piece as Staunton got the ball trapped under his feet around the penalty spot. The ball pinballed around in the Sutton area and eventually fell to Charles-Cook, who was in the right place at the right time to nod home a simple header at the back-post. Despite several minutes of protests from the incensed visitors, who were convinced that the midfielder had been offside, the goal stood.

Sutton, who had played some very neat and eye-catching football in the first-half, suddenly became ragged and disjointed as they searched for an equaliser. A string of substitutions followed as both teams adjusted to the goal, and as the visitors committed more men forward, so more spaces opened up for the home side on the counter attack. The game was further delayed by the injury to Ramsay who required a stretcher to make his way off the pitch after a crunching challenge with a Sutton player – Matt Young his replacement.

Despite having plenty of possession and being camped largely in Woking’s half, Sutton were struggling to create many clear-cut changes, particularly compared with the first-half. Baxter was forced into a rare second-half safe with about 20 minutes remaining as he got down well to push Spence’s shot clear as it headed towards the bottom right-hand corner.

In fact, the Cards probably should have made the result safe sooner than they did, and would have were it not for the excellence of Butler in the Sutton goal – who came close to matching Baxter’s first-half exploits with several fine saves of his own. Charles-Cook and Ward both had shots saved when one-on-one, whilst the latter also saw an attempt cleared off the line, shortly after the match had entered seven minutes of stoppage time.

The hosts did finally get their second goal seconds before the end as Effiong went through on goal and Butler’s save rebounded to the feet of Charles-Cook. The midfielder did well to take his time and picked out the bottom corner as the Sutton defence desperately tried to get back to block him – the goal sending three-sides of the ground into incredulous delirium and driving the other quickly towards the exits.

Woking move up four places to tenth as a result of the win and, in an incredibly tight top-half of the table, sit outside the play-off places on goal difference alone. Just two points separate us too from new league leaders, and local rivals, Aldershot Town – who sit a point ahead of Sutton, who drop to fourth after their defeat. The Cards, with four wins in five in the league, will now travel to National League newcomers AFC Fylde full of confidence and hoping to continue an impressive march up the table.

Woking: Nathan Baxter, Louis Ramsay (Matt Young 70), Nathan Ralph, Josh Staunton, Jordan Wynter, Kane Ferdinand, Chez Isaac, Regan Charles-Cook, Joe Ward, Jason Banton (Charlie Carter 53), Jamie Philpot (Inih Effiong 64).

Subs not used: Sam Mason, Bobson Bawling

Goals: Regan Charles-Cook 49, 90+7

Bookings: Matt Young 80

Sutton United: Jamie Butler, Daniel Spence, Aswad Thomas, Louis John, Craig Eastmond, Kenny Davis, Simon Walton, Josh Taylor (Adam Coombes 77), Kieron Cadogan (Anthony Jeffrey 60), Tommy Wright (Moses Emmanuel 55), Craig Dundas.

Subs not used: Jordan Bentley, Simon Downer

Goals: None

Bookings: Daniel Spence 84

Attendance: 2,193

Sponsor’s (Rigby Taylor) MOTM: Nathan Baxter – kept the Cards in the game with a string of fine saves during the first-half, including that memorable double save to deny Sutton’s Tommy Wright from close range, and finished the match with his first clean-sheet of the season; honourable mentions to Josh Staunton, Jordan Wynter and Chez Isaac who were excellent throughout.

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