STOCKPORT COUNTY 1, WOKING 0
Stockport County’s third Saturday home match in succession saw them secure a hard-earned single-goal victory against mid-table Woking, despite having to play the last half-hour a player down after captain Liam Hogan was sent off.
Ash Palmer’s header broke the deadlock 18 minutes from time to extend County’s lead at the top of the National League to six points.
The remnants of the previous day’s Storm Eunice were still in the air as County took to the field on an initially wet afternoon with an unchanged league line-up for the second successive match.
And the Hatters created the contest’s first chance after five minutes when Macauley Southam-Hales crossed from the right for Paddy Madden to head over – only for the latter to be flagged offside.
The visiting ‘Cards’, undefeated in all four of their previous trips to SK3, had their first sight of goal seven minutes later, with Tom Champion’s shot deflected beyond the right post by Will Collar.
As some unexpected sunshine began to break through, so too did Inih Effiong for Woking – but, after steadying himself to shoot from just inside County’s box, the former Dover striker saw his effort brilliantly tipped behind by Ben Hinchliffe.
Just after the half-hour, the Hatters went close for the first time as Collar latched on to Ryan Rydel’s looping delivery from the left, but his side-footed volley was parried by the visitors’ goalkeeper Craig Ross.
With a little over five first-half minutes remaining, two Woking corners from the left in quick succession kept the Hatters on their guard – and following the second one, Rohan Ince fired on the turn into the near side-netting.
In added time, and with the last kick of the half, Rydel unleashed a free kick towards goal from the right that Ross punched clear to preserve parity at the break.
Having fashioned the final attempt in the first half, the Hatters also created the first one of the second. With a couple of minutes played following the resumption, Madden’s cross from the right was headed over at the Cheadle End by Collar.
Collar’s next involvement, a few minutes later, saw him booked for pushing recently introduced substitute Jack Roles. Woking’s Louie Annesley also saw yellow for his part in the melee that followed in front of the dugouts, while Hogan was shown a straight red, the fourth such card to be shown in as many February matches at Edgeley Park.
Having had their number reduced, the Hatters brought on Ollie Crankshaw and Elliot Newby to freshen things up. And Newby immediately made his presence tell by feeding Madden for a shot that was palmed away by Ross.
With less than than 20 minutes left, County finally earned a first home corner of the afternoon – and with sensational consequences, as Rydel’s delivery from the right was headed in by Palmer to put the 10 men ahead.
Woking looked to hit back through Roles, whose well-struck shot was tipped over by Hinchliffe. Although the Hatters continued to enjoy the better share of possession, and only a double-save from Ross kept out Crankshaw and Madden before seven minutes of added time were safely seen out
Stockport County (3-4-1-2): Hinchliffe; Hogan, Palmer, Johnson; Southam-Hales, Collar, Croasdale, Rydel (Kitching 75); Hippolyte (Newby 59); Quigley (Crankshaw 59), Madden. Subs (unised): Minihan, Jennings.
Goal: Palmer (71) for Stockport.
Attendance: 6,820 (163 visitors).
Report: Gareth Evans