By Jacob Greenwood
Woking go in search of their fourth consecutive victory when Chester travel to Kingfield on Saturday.
Cards fans will be in a positive mood following Tuesday’s 1-0 victory against Torquay United but Chester look set to provide a tough test.
The Blues travel to Surrey unbeaten so far this season with victories against Braintree and Halifax Town and draws against Cheltenham Town and Dover Athletic.
We talked to Chester’s media man Chris Graham to find out what we can expect from Saturday’s visitors.
After a poor campaign in in 13/14 where Chester got a reprieve, you must have been delighted with last season’s mid-table finish?
Definitely, it was difficult to know what to expect, especially with the uncertainty with Hereford lasting so long meaning that it was difficult to recruit players. A lot of fans would have settled for survival again last year so for Steve to do as well as he did and manage to get the club into 12th, given that the team only won once nine games from the back end of February until mid April, was a great achievement.
How much of an influence has Steve Burr had at the club?
Steve has had a massive influence on the club, since his arrival as one of the top rated non-league managers; he has been key to moving the club forward. Many players who have joined have been keen to link up with him, he’s a high profile name and players are familiar with the brand of football he likes to play. He likes his teams to get out and attack, which has been reflected on the pitch with some impressive comebacks against some of the bigger sides in the league – coming from two goals down against Grimsby and Bristol Rovers to earn points last season – as well as some late goals, winners against Alfreton, Halifax and of course it’d be difficult for me to leave off the one against local rivals Wrexham.
What has changed over the summer and what are your ambitions for the season?
On the non-playing side there have been changes with staff, with the club secretary leaving and Tony Allen set to come in from Halifax, a new goalkeeping coach in Carl Lenighan, again joining from Halifax as well as new sprinklers installed in the pitch. There has been a lot of change at the club over the summer in player personnel, I think nine players have left and seven have been brought in, with youth player Sam Hughes also earning himself a contract after an impressive pre-season. With the club being fan owned there has been a Crowdfunder project set up to try and assist Steve with a transfer kitty and there has been an onus on quality players over quantity. For the season Steve has gone on record saying he’s hoping for a playoff push and with the quality in the squad it may be possible, although there will need to be a bit of good fortune on the injury front with such a small squad.
How impressed have you been with Chester’s start to the season?
I’ve been very impressed, pre-season went well, losing only the first two games against League One sides (1-0 in both) and beating a Liverpool youth side four-nil. The players carried this form into the season and have looked compact at the back, making it difficult for opposing sides to score – conceding just once in four games, which came from a Jon Worsnop error in judgement. Despite only scoring three times there has been plenty of enjoyable football on display, Ross Hannah got his first league goal on Tuesday night and will hopefully go on a run now to really set up a promising season!
Who will Woking have to watch out for on Saturday?
Ross Hannah and Jordan Chapell will likely be the two players most troubling to Woking’s defence, Hannah has been playing in a lone striker role that he is still getting used to but has been excellent at pressing from the front and causing defenders problems. Chapell will likely operate on the as a winger and his pace will offer a real threat on the counter attack, he’s a tricky player who enjoys running at defenders so will be difficult to occupy. At the other end Ben Heneghan is the player Chester fans believe is destined for bigger things, the 21 year old centre half impressed last season, especially after moving to centre half – he had previously spent time playing right back out of necessity – and has already formed an impressive partnership alongside no nonsense defender Ian Sharps. It would not be a surprise to see a Football League club make a move for Heneghan before the season is through.
Finally, what is your match prediction?
It’s a very tricky one, Woking have started very well and Chester have a poor record since reforming – winning just once and losing three times, although that sole victory came at the Kingfield Stadium in January 2014. I’ll set myself up for a huge fall and stick my neck out by saying I think Chester will win 2-1, with goals coming from Ross Hannah and John Rooney for the Blues.
Pictures by David Holmes. A full set can be found at wokingfc.co.uk