Woking FC 1-4 Stockport County

A blistering first half helped County on their way to a stunning 1-4 win over Woking at Kingfield, as The Hatters blew their hosts away in Simon Rusk’s first game in charge.

County’s starting strike-force on the day all grabbed a goal in the demolition job in Surrey, as Rusk’s men moved to within two points of second-placed Hartlepool Utd in the National League.

New manager Rusk opted for two changes from the side which drew 1-1 with Boreham Wood at Edgeley Park last weekend, with Ryan Croasdale and Sam Minihan replacing Ash Palmer and Richie Bennett.

The new boss’ regime got off to a flying start inside two minutes, with Connor Jennings sliding home from close range after brilliant work down the right by talisman John Rooney.

Rooney almost doubled the lead himself moments later as he latched onto a loose ball and looked to loop one from distance over Craig Ross, only for The Cards stopper to back-pedal in time to save.

Finding himself in a more advanced position, Ryan Croasdale then burst into the area and saw his low strike blocked by the legs of the increasingly busy Ross.

The lively Jennings cut in from the left and unleashed a curling effort which Ross palmed away – agonisingly ahead of the lurking Macauley Southam-Hales – as County sustained the pressure on a muddy surface at Woking, after some torrential weather across the country this week.

Mark Kitching danced down the left and crossed superbly for the man in form Alex Reid as the tie passed an entertaining first half-hour, only for Reid to not quite make full contact with an unmarked header and see Ross claim with ease.

But Rooney deservedly doubled County’s lead with a superb team goal ten minutes before the break, as he emphatically met Kitching’s low cross and drilled low past Ross after good work by Kitching and Jennings down the left.

Reid looked to get in on the act as he burst  clear and went for goal with Rooney and Jennings in support, only for Ross to hold Reid’s low strike at the near post.

It was three for the dominant visitors on the stroke of half-time though, as Kitching again escaped down the left and squared for Macauley Southam-Hales to fire home and see County into dreamland territory.

The Hatters took that three goal lead into the interval soon after, with Southam-Hales’ first County goal capping an excellent first half of football under Rusk.

HALF-TIME: Woking 0-3 County

The hosts did respond just five minutes into the second half however, as Moussa Diarra headed home from a corner into the near post.

Lois Maynard found space at the back post from a Kitching corner but swiped wide of the target shortly after, as County looked to offset any Woking revival.

And the Hatters did just that on the 65th minute, when Reid sprang the offside trap and smashed powerfully past Ross after a cleverly-timed through ball by Jennings.

Rooney almost had a second of the afternoon as substitute Richie Bennett led the charge from a Woking corner and teed up the Hatters’ leading marksman, but Rooney saw his effort from the edge of the area curl harmlessly wide of the target.

Late substitute Jordan Williams almost had his first competitive goal in County colours as he fired inches wide of goal into the last ten minutes, but Rusk’s side had done more than enough and saw out the remaining minutes comfortably to earn a superb three points on the road.

FULL-TIME: Woking 1-4 County

Goals: (Diarra, 51 – C. Jennings, 2; Rooney, 37; Southam-Hales; 45, Reid, 65)

County line-up (4-2-3-1): Hinchliffe; Minihan, Hogan (c), Keane, Kitching; Croasdale, Maynard; Southam-Hales (Bennett, 68), Rooney (Palmer, 83), C. Jennings; Reid (Williams, 73).

Subs not used: Barnes, Stott.

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