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Blog: Changing of the guard – Credit where credit is due

By Jacob Greenwood

When you talk about years in football, it is usually looked at in terms of seasons and not calendar years, but as 2017 comes to a close, it’s hard not to look back on what has been an interesting 12 months at Kingfield.

It took an unbeaten last month of the season to ensure our place in the National League for the following season – but what a run it was. From having our hearts in our mouths watching York’s long-throw go into our box over and over again to the scenes at Chester on Easter Monday, it was certainly a nervy period but ultimately a very positive one. The Cards were staying up. Never mind the players, the supporters needed a summer break to get over it.

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A Big Step Towards Safety

What was to follow was far from relaxing. Within days news filtered out of Kingfield that Garry Hill and Steve Thompson had left, and by the sounds of it (and Non-League Paper interviews) it wasn’t on the best of terms. It’s this period of time that is worth looking back on in hindsight.

Only days before, Garry had scaled the advertising boards at Dagenham and roamed the crowd thanking the fans, they chanted for him to stay on. So it’s no surprise that his departure was met with disappointment and in some parts anger. It would be easy to put together a list on Hill’s memorable moments at Woking but simply put, he took the club from drifting in the dour depths of the Conference South back to where many believed it belonged. A great period in the club’s history and for me, he left a club legend. I think it’s also clear we had a lot of love for Woking.

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Hill’s Final Bow at Dagenham 

What many couldn’t see at the time was that, this was probably the perfect (or as perfect as it could get in the circumstances) ending. This was clouded by statements about ‘investment’ coming into the club and Woking not being able to offer a contract to the management team – “the Board are not in a position to offer a new contract to the present management team.” Plot twist. Investment in Woking? A wealthy sheikh probably had millions ready to spend on getting us into The Football League – it all makes sense!

I’m not sure anyone except those very close to the club will understand what happened in that period. All we do know is at the time of publishing the investor never materialized. But let’s save that for another day.

What we do know is that Anthony Limbrick joined the club and there was a fresh lease of life around the place. It’s easy to write this blog just days after he masterminded a win over League One side Bury – but this was a very good appointment. Only time will tell where Limbrick can take this club but one thing is clear, all this happened at exactly the right time.

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Oh Anthony…

Garry Hill, who would have left a legend whatever happened in my eyes, went out on a high. It’s unthinkable to imagine us playing in the second tier of non-league again and as we experienced last time, it isn’t easy to bounce back. He saved us from that, got his chance to thank the fans and he was on his way. There are so many great memories from his reign at Kingfield and I think we might see a Anthony create a few more. Credit where credit is due to who made this call – the board? An investor that lost interest? I don’t think we will ever know. One thing is certain Garry and Thommo’s mission was a success, they are both legends and now we have a bright young prospect in the dugout who has the potential to take us far. The time was right.

Come on you Cards!

Photos by David Holmes. A full set can be found at wokingfc.co.uk

 

 

 

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Getting to know Bury

By Jacob Greenwood

League One outfit Bury visit Kingfield on Sunday in The FA Cup First Round in what could be a classic cup tie. The Shakers, who are without a manager after parting company with Lee Clark, sit second from bottom in the league and have struggled on the road so far this season.

Anthony Limbrick’s side will also be looking to get back to winning ways after stumbling past Concord Rangers in the last round and following that up with three league defeats. Despite the poor current run of both sides find themselves on, folklore suggests form ‘goes out of the window’ in cup games, so who knows what will happen on the day!

The Cards will be without Charlie Carter (injured), Louis Ramsay (injured) and Kane Ferdinand (suspended), however Limbrick is hoping to have other players back from injury.

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Philpot strikes late vs Concord to keep The Cards in The FA Cup

We talked to Bury fan Adam Clark to find out what has been going on at Gigg Lane so far this season.

There is a lot going on at Bury at the moment and the main talking point was the news that Lee Clark left the club on Monday – can you give us the background to why the club lost faith in him?

After a run of poor results fans started to turn on Lee and they expressed their views on social media. Although there was a lot of discontent online, which saw the the start of the online Clark Out campaign so to speak, there was no chanting of Clark out at games. However, Saturday marked four defeats on the spin and I think it’s safe to say that everyone wanted him to go and at the final whistle vs Doncaster there were chants of Clark Out.

Bury are only a point off of the bottom of League One, were they expected to struggle this season and what has gone wrong?

What’s gone wrong is that the manager didn’t know his best 11 and that could be a part of why he lost his job. We aren’t expected to struggle. On paper we are one of the best teams in the league with some great players in all areas – which I’ll get on to later in the piece!

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Set piece nightmares at Dover

Although we are still early in the season, it could be said Bury are aiming to stay up this season, does that make the cup competitions less important this year?

Personally, cup runs are important to me – now we have sacked Lee Clark we could have a cup run that hopefully starts vs Woking on Sunday afternoon.

What players will Woking have to look out for on Sunday?

There’s quite a few – Joe Murphy or Leo Fasan, depending on who plays between the sticks, are both very good goalkeepers. Joe has more experience than Leo but they are both great goalkeepers and pull off some amazing saves. In the midfield Chris Maguire is a great technical player and a free-kick specialist – his free-kicks are to some thing to look out for but he hasn’t played as much in the last few games so we will have to wait until 1pm on Sunday to find out the team. Jermaine Beckford up top is great scorer that’s played at a higher level than League One.

Finally, what is your score prediction?
3-1 Bury.

Images by David Holmes. Find more at wokingfc.co.uk

Getting To Know Hartlepool United

By Jacob Greenwood

Woking welcome Hartlepool United to Kingfield on Saturday as they look for their fourth win on the bounce.

Saturday’s game sees two form sides face off. The Cards came from behind to beat AFC Fylde last week with goals coming from Joe Ward and Jamie Philpott to put themselves top of the form table. Whereas Hartlepool, who had a tough start to the season, find themselves third in the form table following a 2-1 victory over Bromley.

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Philpott’s Goal Against Fylde Makes It Three Wins In Three 

With the exception of Cheltenham and Bristol Rovers, teams relegated from League Two have struggled to bounce back to the The Football League. We spoke to Pools fan Kate Simons to find out more about how fans in the North East see the season so far and what their expectations are for their first season in Non-League’s top flight.

Nobody likes to be relegated, but for some clubs that have been in the bottom third of League Two for a few seasons, dropping down and rebuilding can turn into a positive project. How do most Hartlepool fans see life after League Two? 

Although it was heart-breaking to get relegated, I think most fans are optimistic for life after league two and everything that goes with life in the National League – new teams to play, visiting new grounds etc. I think lots of fans just want to see the team playing with passion and with fight again.

How have you found the standard of National League football since dropping down from The Football League?

It’s different, that’s one thing for sure! I think it’s a faster paced and a lot more physical compared to The Football League.

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Home Comforts – Five Wins In Six Games At Kingfield For Woking So Far This Season

After a tricky start to life in non-league football, Hartlepool have found some form, winning four of the last six. Has this just been a case of adapting to the league?

I think it has been a case of adapting to the National league, but also adapting to the different style of play in this league. A lot of new faces were brought into the club too, so it takes time for people to gel.

Hartlepool manager Craig Harrison has been very successful in Welsh football, what do you think he can bring to non-league’s top tier and to United? 

Craig was a very successful manager at TNS and I think he can bring that to Pools, he knows what it takes to be successful and he can instil that into the team. Being from the North East, Craig knows just how much this team means to the fans! He seems a vocal, hardworking and passionate manager!

A lot of teams now qualify for the National League play-offs, will getting one of these spots be a minimum expectation for the majority of fans? 

I think the fans just want to see the team play well, after spending the last couple of seasons fighting relegation and then eventually being relegated, we just want to see the team playing with passion. Of course, being promoted/qualifying for the play-off’s is on everyone’s mind but people are realistic and know just how hard it is to get out of this league!

Who will be the danger men that Woking have to look out for on Saturday? 

Jonathan Franks, he’s just re-signed for the club and he can’t seem to stop scoring!

Michael Woods, he plays with his heart on his sleeve and he’s not scared to put a challenge in!

Finally, what is your score prediction?

Think it’ll be a tough game, but I’m saying a 2-1 to Pools. Up the Pools!! 

Photos from David Holmes. For a full set visit wokingfc.co.uk

 

Exiting Kingfield – Who Has Gone Where and Who Hasn’t

By Jacob Greenwood

There has been a flurry of signings in the last week or so at Kingfield as new Cards boss Anthony Limbrick builds his squad for the coming season. But what has happened to the players that ended last season at Kingfield and who might still be signing for The Cards? We take a look at who has gone where so far –

In the football league

Gozie Ugwu – 21 goals in all competitions was enough to attract relegated Chesterfield to Garry Hill’s player of the season as they look to secure an immediate return to League One. Ugwu signed a two year deal with the club.

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Ugwu Celebrates vs York City

Terell Thomas – Thomas was released from League One side Charlton at the end of the season and despite Limbrick saying he wanted to build a team around a player like Thomas, he couldn’t secure his services. The exciting youngster instead could be lining up against his old side after he signed for Wigan Athletic, who were relegated from The Championship last season. After signing for Paul Cook’s side, he thanked Cards fans for their support.

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Elsewhere in the National League 

Keiran Murtagh – Cards fans were hopeful their player of the season would be amongst the players staying at Kingfield. However, he will instead be playing against Woking next season after signing a two-year deal at Boreham Wood. Like Thomas, Murtagh also took to social media to thank the Woking fans.

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Delano Sam-Yorke – The dust had barely settled on Woking’s survival when it was announced that Sam-Yorke had signed for Maidstone United. This was no surprise after a successful loan spell at the club last season.

In the leagues below

Chike Kandi – After failing to break into Woking’s team last season, Kandi was released and was quickly snapped up by  Isthmian League Premier Division side Leatherhead. The Tanners are without celeb manager Jimmy Bullard after he left the club but look to be ambitious after also signing Jack Midson.

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Kandi Smashes Home Against Wrexham

Max Kretzschmar – Despite scoring some big goals for Woking, including the winner vs Dover and the opener against Dagenham & Redbridge on the last day of the season, the 23-year-old was released. He has joined Hampton & Richmond on a one-year deal and will be looking to help them build on last season’s impressive league campaign which saw them make the National League South play-offs.

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Kretzschmar Lobs Aldershot Town’s Jake Cole

Aaron Smith-Joseph – Academy graduate Smith-Joseph only played once for Garry Hill’s side last season – turning out as a sub vs Walton Casuals. The youngster has signed for Burgess Hill Town and could come up against Kandi as the West Sussex team play in the same league as Leatherhead.

Jamie Lucas – The Bristol Rovers loanee was released at the end of the season and made the short trip to join National League South side Bath City. Lucas scored two league goals for Woking including a penalty during an away draw at Barrow.

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Lucas Doubles Woking’s Lead v Maidstone United

Yet to hear from

Brandon Hall – Although Hall spent a lot of last season on the bench, he was not one of the players released and it is expected that Woking are in talks with him to retain his services. He recently spent time at Jamie Vardy’s V9 Academy, aimed at improving non-league talent, and tweeted his excitement at taking part.

 

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Jake Caprice – Although he was in and out of the team last season, Caprice has another impressive season at Kingfield. Caprice is yet to commit to Woking or find a new club. The majority of Cards fans will hope he is part of Limbrick’s new-look squad next season.

All photos by David Homes and can be found at wokingfc.co.uk

Hill Wishes Cards ‘All The Best’ Following Departure

By Jacob Greenwood

Garry Hill has spoken for the first time since leaving his position at Woking last week and told reporters that there is no animosity from himself towards the club.

Hill spent over six years at Kingfield and during that time took The Cards from The National League South to The National League and reflected on recent developments prior to watching Dagenham & Redbridge face Forest Green Rovers. He told The National League’s social media team:

“I’ve had six and half wonderful years there and I wish the club all the best. There is a change going on which I think every club on and off the pitch needs at times. Hopefully it is for the right reasons for the players, supporters and volunteers.

“There is no animosity from myself and I wish them all the best.”

Hill has been replaced by Anthony Limbrick as new investors pursue a fresh start at Kingfield. Limbrick has worked with youth teams at both Southampton and West Ham as well as at an International level for England. Cards fans will get a chance to hear him speak at a fans forum on Wednesday which is being held at Kingfield.

Image by David Holmes. A full set can be found at wokingfc.co.uk

 

Word on the Tweet – Cards Trump Silkmen

By Jacob Greenwood

Woking overcame Macclesfield Town on Good Friday thanks to a second half Gozie Ugwu penalty to keep them out of the relegation zone with three games to play.

The visitors arrived at Kingfield with an outside chance of reaching the play-offs but a disciplined defensive display saw The Cards take all three points. Over 2,000 fans attended the game and this is how they, the players and the media reacted on social media:

The match winner Gozie Ugwu was happy with the win, but realises there is still work to do:

Gozie Ugwu‏ @gozie_ugwu9

“Big big win! fans were different class! however it’s not over yet, another big game Monday. We go again! #CARDS”

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Terrell Thomas, who had another impressive game at centre back, also thanked the fans and hailed a ‘massive  result’:

Terell Thomas @Terellmthomas

“Another fantastic result today, every player put a massive shift in. Superb support from the @wokingfc fans as always. On to Monday”

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Jake Caprice was delighted with the win but also has an eye on Monday’s game away at Chester:

Jake Caprice @Jake_Caprice

“What a result gotta follow it up with a another 3pts on Monday … fans were brilliant again”

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Here are how a selection of fans saw the win:

Former Radio Woking presenter Declan McCarthy was at the game and described the result as ‘huge’:

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Thanks to those who interacted with us via Twitter (@EverythingWFC) during and after the game – drop us a tweet and you could be included in this feature on Monday.

Word on the Tweet – Cards Draw at Barrow

By Jacob Greenwood

Woking took another step towards safety yesterday by picking up a point at play-off chasing Barrow, but the tone amongst players, management and fans alike was ‘what could have been’ after a late DSY goal was disallowed. Here is how social media reacted –

Centre back Terell Thomas thanked the travelling Cards contingent and reflected on what could have been:

Terell Thomas‏ @Terellmthomas 

“Good result on the road to Barrow, but could of taken all 3. Thank you to the @woking fans that made the long journey”

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BBC Surrey’s Gary Smith, who covered the game on Saturday, gave his view on the goal that was chalked off and what Garry Hill might have made of it:

Gary Smith‏  @GTSSport

“Gutted for The Cards after what looked like a legible winner! I thought Garry was very reserved when I spoke to him!”

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Cards fans Niall Brannigan and ‘Dave M’ were both philosophical after the draw and looked forward to the upcoming fight for survival:

Niall Brannigan‏ @niallb1 
“Gutted but, at 3pm, we’d have bitten their hand off for the draw. Go again.”

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Dave M 👍‏ @acerbicdoc 
“I would have taken a draw today so cant be to downhearted move on to Friday #coyc”

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Thanks to those who interacted with us via Twitter (@EverythingWFC) during and after the game – drop us a tweet and you could be included in this feature next week.

Getting To Know Aldershot Town

By Jacob Greenwood

Woking travel to local rivals Aldershot Town on Boxing Day and will be hoping for a repeat of last season’s success against The Shots.

After recording wins against Gateshead and Bromley, Woking fans would have hoped that Garry Hill’s side would have pushed on. However, Cup and Trophy disappointment followed and with Woking failing to beat Guiseley last time out in the league, Cards fans are again looking at the shrinking gap to the relegation zone (just goal difference is keeping Woking above the line).

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Guiseley Hold Woking to a Goalless Draw

If you listen to football folklore then form goes out of the window in derby games. This statement will be music to the ears of both Cards and Shots fans as both sides have been struggling of late. We caught up with Tommy Anderson, Chairman of The Shots Trust, to find out what we can expect on Boxing Day.

It’s been a while since we played each other and since we last met there was quite a big summer for The Shots off the pitch with Gary Waddock returning to the club. Fans must have been delighted to see him return?

There were big changes at Aldershot back in the summer both on the playing side and of course the return of Gary Waddock as manager which was just what the club needed! Season ticket sales rose dramatically following Gary’s return, a good, competitive squad was assembled and our start to the season was extremely encouraging. Our recent form has dipped and cup exits in the FA Cup and FA Trophy at the hands of lower opposition was disappointing, no question about that, however I think we need to be realistic and honest and say if 10th position was offered to us back in June at this present time, we would have had accepted it. From a personal point of view, I am content overall with how the season has panned out. I expect the squad to bounce back from recent disappointments and improve as the season goes on and put pressure on the teams above.

A few other additions included Scott Rendell and Jake Cole from Woking. How have both players settled in at The Rec?

They’ve done ok. Jake Cole in particular has significantly improved us in the goalkeeping position. Earlier on in the season, he made some crucial saves at key times in games to preserve our lead, he offers big assurances to the defenders ahead of him with his talking and direction, a real leader. Scott Rendell for me is slowly getting better and better, the goals haven’t produced what he had done previous, this is down to mostly being played in a deeper position and also people need to realise that this season he came back from a cruciate ligament injury that put him out of action for all of last season, arrived at Aldershot and played lots of games in a short space of time and was clearly shattered! However, Scott has now really worked on his fitness and is looking sharper and sharper and I’m fully confident that the goals will flow in the not so distant future.

It has been an up and down season so far for yourselves with disappointment in the FA Cup and Trophy (similar to Woking!) but a steady mid-table position has been maintained. There have been a few big results in there too. How do you think things are working out and are the play-offs the aim?

Overall, I’m fairly content with how the season has panned out. Major disappointments in exiting both cup competitions early and for clubs like ourselves, there is a lot of financial gain to be had from a decent run in both competitions, however our league campaign has been a vast improvement on recent years, we are playing an entertaining, attacking style of football which we long sought for at the a EBB Stadium! Early doors, we started in superb fashion scoring plenty of goals and putting good sides under the sword! However, like all clubs, we are currently on a disappointing run of results and that needs to be addressed quickly. We now have a perfect chance with the next two fixtures to get our season back on track and to make an almighty push for the play-offs which for me has to always be the target, despite the fact it would be an overachievement on our budget for that to happen this season.

Who will Woking have to watch out for on Boxing Day?

Jake Gallagher – A tenacious, hardworking player who now plays in a further forward role since Gary’s arrival and has an attacking edge about him that not a lot of people would expect him to have. A player that always gives 100% and from speaking to him in the week, he is completely fired up and ready for the festive fixtures!

Idris Kanu – A highly rated youngster who is attracting plenty of interest higher up the football pyramid certainly has the game to create and muster chances and goals out of nothing. With the TV cameras circulating the EBB Stadium on the 26th, Idris will see this as a fine chance to impress and put a statement out to the interested suitors.

Scott Rendell – Scott will be relishing coming up against his former side and will be really chomping at the bit to get his goalscoring boots firing. A natural finisher who certainly has plenty of goals left in the tank and always one for any team to watch out for.

Finally, what is your score prediction?

I’m predicting Aldershot Town to get back to winning ways, after last year’s disappointing matches against Woking. It’s time for us to attempt to get the double crown back! Woking will certainly cause problems and come with a game plan but I’m backing Aldershot to win 3-1!

Photos by David Holmes. For a full set go to wokingfc.co.uk.

Get To Know Ebbsfleet United

By Jacob Greenwood

Woking travel to Ebbsfleet United on Saturday as their FA Trophy campaign gets underway in what, at least on paper, appears a tricky tie.

The Cards will be looking to get back to winning ways after being dumped out of The FA Cup by Accrington Stanley on Sunday in front of the BBC’s cameras. Garry Hill’s men, without the suspended Charlie Carter, will go from underdogs to favourites against a Fleet side going well in The National League South.

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Woking look to bounce back from FA Cup Defeat

 

The Kent club, who currently sit third in the league, beat Harrow Borough 4-2 to set up the tie with Woking and ex-Card Bradley Bubb will be looking to come back and haunt Garry Hill.

We talked to Fleet fan Joe Glidewell about what has been going on at Stonebridge Road and what Woking can expect on Saturday.

I am yet to speak to a Woking fan who thinks this is a good tie, what has the reaction been around Stonebridge Road?

I think the general consensus is that it’s a winnable tie, albeit a little ‘boring’. Furthermore, I think the majority of our fans see it as a good chance to test ourselves against higher league opposition, as we haven’t had that in cup draws for a while!

Is the Trophy a priority this season or is the focus fully on the league?

For me personally, I believe we have the squad to challenge on both fronts. However, given the gap between us and first place in the league at the moment, I feel we should be focusing solely on the league. That said, winning breeds confidence, so a win here will see us in good spirits going into the busy Christmas period, including two games against local rivals and fellow play-off contenders Dartford.

As with every year since being relegated in 2013, Ebbsfleet are aiming for promotion this season, how is the challenge panning out so far?

At the moment, not very well. We’re ten points from Maidenhead who, at the moment, do not look like slipping up. They also beat us at Stonebridge Road recently 2-3 with a Sean Marks hat-trick, the final goal coming in the last couple of minutes. They’re a good side, so we will have to rely on them perhaps ‘doing an Ebbsfleet’ while we put together a run of wins.

Ebbsfleet are seen as one of the ‘money’ club in the Conf South, why haven’t things worked out in previous seasons?

I think the main reason it hasn’t worked is the lack of experience in the management to go with big expectations amongst the fanbase. Steve Brown came in right at the start and was fixated with Dover, taking a bulk of their squad and talking trash about them in the media. That season was only ever going to end one way for me! After his sacking the following November, Jamie Day came and there was an air of excitement around after what he had achieved with Welling. Unfortunately, he couldn’t handle it and after us finishing outside the play-offs that was it for him.

Daryl McMahon, after impressing in charge of the academy and in a short stint as caretaker boss was given the gig; his first managerial job. Let’s not talk about last season (The Fleet let a large lead drop when top of the table and lost in the play-offs to Maidstone) but fans are split on him. Some want him gone, some believe he is the one to take us up. I think you get where I’m going with this though… what you need to get promotion is an experienced head and a team of grafters. You can’t just put ‘the best’ players together and expect them to do the business.

Woking fans will be familiar with some of your squad, Bradley Bubb, Charlie Sheringham, Aaron McLean and Danny Kedwell amongst the bigger names, but who will they have to watch our for on Saturday?

Bradley Bubb deserves a start. He’s impressed every time he’s come off the bench and knows where the net is. Charlie Sheringham has had a tough time of it with injuries and fans consistently getting on his back. If he’s over his niggle that kept him out of the Oxford City victory last week then Darren McQueen is the man to watch. Quick, hardworking, plays for the team and knows where the goal is. That is, of course, if we play it on the floor to the little guy! Jack Powell is another one. On his day, easily one of the best central midfielders in non-league, but has been slightly inconsistent so far! Then there’s Nathan Ashmore of course. 100% the best goalkeeper in our division and should really be playing higher!

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Ex-Card Bubb will be looking to cause an upset
Finally, what is your score prediction? 
Not usually one for making predictions but I’ll go a close 2-1 either way. We need to keep Gozie Ugwu quiet, a lad we know well from his loan spell here a few years back. Whatever happens, I want it done without the need for a replay!
Photos by David Holmes. For a full set of images visit wokingfc.co.uk.

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