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Second half fightback secures Cards’ third win on bounce

Malcolm Wyatt
12:00am, Sat 23rd Sep 2017
AFC Fylde 1 Woking 2
Vanarama National League
23rd September 2017

Anthony Limbrick’s in-form Woking secured a third consecutive league victory and fifth win in six matches after an impressive second-half display on their first competitive visit to the Fylde.

Last season’s National League North champions had the better opening 45 minutes, deservedly leading at the break. But two goals in two minutes from there changed everything, the Cards moving up to sixth place and within a point of early pace-setters and previous victims Sutton.

The recent demolition of Nene Park, grand former home of dissolved ‘90s success Rushden & Diamonds, offers a sobering reminder to an ambitious outfit targeting Football League status by 2022. But there’s no doubting the progress made so far, this impressive ex-West Lancs League club prepared for a rosy future judging by all you see on and off the field at Mill Farm.

At around the half-hour mark, the Cards were possibly heading for a fifth away defeat of the season. Yet again we witnessed spirit and tenacity from Limbrick’s young side – average age under 22 on the day – and the Surrey visitors were ultimately great value for their win.

In a tentative start, a strong wind favoured the hosts early on yet Dave Challinor’s side – with just two wins from 11 previous fixtures - took a while to get going. But ex-Wales U21 cap Henry Jones soon impressed for the Coasters, nicely served by first-time starter Serhat Tasdemir, 17.

Woking’s Regan Charles-Cook, Joe Ward and Matt Young also showed promise, but the away game plan took a blow in the 18th minute as Jones’ left-wing corner found its way through a crowded area to centre-back Jordan Tunnicliffe, the ex-West Brom youth and England C cap chesting home at close range, his second goal in as many matches.

Home pressure continued, Jones firing over from 35 yards after a quick free-kick, Challinor’s challengers taking the game to the Cards. But Woking were building, Kane Ferdinand working hard in midfield, feeding Charles-Cook, his deflected half-chance bringing a corner from which defender Josh Staunton came close with a glancing header.

As Fylde countered, top scorer Danny Rowe - who last faced Woking with Barrow and Macclesfield - drilled from distance, but Nathan Baxter got down to his finish. The next home corner also caused flutters but was too strong, a Jones free-kick leading to further palpitations.

That was nothing compared to the next raid, Simon Grand, Rowe and Lewis Montrose getting shots in as Woking crowded their goalmouth in what looked more like volleyball in the area.

The following Jones free-kick caught out everyone bar Baxter, the keeper seeing it late but pawing behind for another corner, from which another half-chance went wide. Despite their lowly position, the hosts were gaining confidence, the visitors trapped in their own half but with Staunton and Nathan Ralph thankfully reading the ball well.

It wasn’t just about corners and free-kicks, as you’d expect from a team managed by long throw expert Challinor, Woking living on their nerves as time and again the Coasters threatened to double the tally, skipper Andy Bond and former Lincoln midfielder Jack Muldoon threatening.

When they finally broke away, skipper Chez Isaac‘s free-kick was easily defended, a Ferdinand shot was deflected for a corner which came to nothing, and Charlie Carter’s run led to a Matt Young effort ending in a goal-kick.

Meanwhile, at the other end Jordan Wynter got a key interception before Baxter sprang from his line to collect from Muldoon, the Cards needing the break.

Half time: AFC Fylde 1 Woking 0

The Coasters carried on where they left off after the interval, Rowe looking for an opening and Muldoon playing into danger, the Cards thankfully clearing their lines.

Charles-Cook and Ralph combined on the left, the visitors looking for a way back, while Baxter kept out a Tasdemir header after good work by Wigan loanee Luke Burke and Muldoon.

Then came Woking’s 53rd-minute leveller, Isaac delivering their first corner of the half and the ball only half-cleared, Ward’s thunderous strike from distance taking a deflection then smacking keeper Jay Lynch’s right post, ricocheting into the net.

Suddenly all systems go, Jason Banton replaced Carter and was involved in the build-up as the Cards went ahead within a minute, Ralph’s great delivery met by a fantastic flying, flashing header from Jamie Philpot, prompting similarly-athletic celebrations from his gaffer on the line, rising and punching the air.

Baxter’s fine tip-over from a Jones volley followed after a promising Coasters move, and it needed a steady touch from Young to halt another attack. Yet Woking largely looked stronger now, and from Isaac’s next delivery Staunton went close with a downward header.

From a free-kick, Fylde spread wide but their visitors stood their ground, getting in a couple more key touches, second goalscorer Philpot soon making way for Inih Effiong, getting a hug from his boss as he departed.

Ward still had lots of running in him, combining well with Charles-Cook and Banton, the latter not getting the best of finishes following an Effiong cutback, Lynch collecting on the floor.

As the play swung, Staunton was first to impressive sub Jonny Smith’s free-kick, the hosts soon introducing Matty Blinkhorn, going for the kill, and seeing Burke’s effort from the right cut out by Baxter in mid-air, with another corner cleared and Ward almost in on the counter-attack but for a last-ditch home tackle.

Patient Woking build-up play saw Effiong in, but the flag was raised, while as Fylde countered Burke headed into the danger zone but no one could finish.

Charles-Cook remained a thorn in the hosts’ side and played Effiong in, the flag down this time but the sub losing his footing, while Bristol City loanee Smith had an effort blocked after Rowe struggled to find a gap at the other end, Smith’s next in-swinger put behind for a corner, Staunton heading powerfully out as the ball came over.

Burke and Jones combined before the latter’s cross was plucked out by Baxter, time running out for the hosts as Wynter, another Woking standout, sliced the next delivery behind, the resultant corner leading to the ball skidding all the way through, untouched.

Four minutes were tagged on, Montrose in the thick of it as the hosts desperately eyed an equaliser, Jones again whipping in and Grand’s glancing header just wide, the Cards soon celebrating a deserved second away win of term.

AFC Fylde: Jay Lynch, Lewis Montrose, Zaine Francis-Angol, Jordan Tunnicliffe, Andy Bond (c) (Matt Blinkhorn 73), Danny Rowe, Jack Muldoon (Jonny Smith 62), Simon Grand, Serhat Tasdemir (Tom McCready 82), Luke Burke, Henry Jones. Unused subs: Jordan Richards, Josh Ezewele.

Scorer: Tunnicliffe 18.

Yellow card: Jones 12.

Woking: Nathan Baxter, Matt Young, Jordan Wynter, Josh Staunton, Chez Isaac ©, Kane Ferdinand, Charlie Carter (Jason Banton 53), Nathan Ralph, Regan Charles-Cook (Declan Appau 89), Jamie Philpot (Inih Effiong 66), Joe Ward. Unused Subs: Bobson Bawling, Sam Mason.

Scorers: Ward 53, Philpot 54.

Yellow card: Isaac 31, Staunton 83, Young 89.

Referee: Karl Evans.

Attendance 1,532.

My MOTM: Josh Staunton – something of a defensive colossus, supplying one of many fine shifts by the determined visitors, toiling away throughout as Woking ultimately reaped the benefits of the power of application, belief and team spirit.

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