By Jacob Greenwood
The wait is over, football is back!
For the first time since late April, Woking welcome a National League outfit to Kingfield as the top tier of non-league gets underway for the 2016/16 season.
Cards fans will see a new-look side as only five players from last term are still at the club with notable names departing. However, with signings such as Delano Sam-Yorke, Max Kretzschmar and the loan signing of Dennon Lewis, the Kingfield faithful seem to have a positive outlook on the much changed squad.
Saturday’s visitors, Lincoln City, have also seen big changes this summer and most notably this saw Danny Cowley join as manager. Cowley took Braintree Town to the play-offs last season and this has lead to the bookies putting The Imps up there as one of the favourites for the title.
We talked to Lincoln fan Jack Mulhall to find out more about what has happened over the summer and what we can expect from Saturday’s guests.
It’s been a busy summer at Sincil Bank with a new gaffer coming in. After a great season with Braintree Town, what do you expect to see from Danny Cowley?
For me, Danny is the perfect appointment at absolutely the right time for Lincoln. His methodical approach is something I’ve never seen from any manager we’ve had. Preparation is important. His model is next-generation stuff, taking a huge interest into the sports science side. It’s clearly worked on a part-time basis and I, and most others, are excited to see how that transforms into full time.
He has already made some signings, can you take us through those?
Danny was quick to bring in the trio from Braintree (Habergham – Left back. Woodyard and Miles – central midfielders). They’re clearly players he knows and trusts and from what I’ve seen they are real ‘ball at the feet’ players. Nathan Arnold has signed and that’s a great addition for me having featured heavily in Grimsby’s promotion. We missed flare last season and he should bring that. We have strengthened in attack with Adam Marriott and Jonny Margetts coming in. Both have found the net in pre season, both with points to prove having had tough seasons last year. I expect one more to be brought in before opening day, and I’m hoping it’s a centre half to partner Jamie McCombe.
Matt Rhead bagged 18 in 31 appearances last season so it is no surprise that there are clubs interested in him. How important will he be if you can keep hold of him?
For me, Matt is hugely important to next season, albeit if I don’t expect him to feature as much. He offers so much in both boxes. Last season, he scored with his left, his right, his head and an overhead kick. You sense it’ll be whether Matt wants to be here or not rather than whether a club can tempt us with four Yorkie bars and a KitKat. Barrow seems the most likely option with Paul Cox keen on his former player. I’d be disappointed to see him leave. (It seems that Matt and Lincoln weren’t interested in the chocolate bars as since talking to Jack, Matt has signed a new deal at Lincoln)
What is your expectation on for the season?
Like every year, I’m full of optimism. Like every year, this one feels different. I think we’re good enough to mount a promotion challenge and expect a top seven as a minimum..but who really knows!
Lincoln will come up against Delano Sam-Yorke on Saturday. How do you reflect on his time with yourselves?
He initially came on loan. A player I rated heavily. Signed on a permanent deal and never really got going. I think the style was negative to his game. I wasn’t disappointed to see him depart and sense his heart is always down south. He will score goals though, there’s no doubting that.
Finally, how do you think Saturday’s game will play out and what is your score prediction?
There’s something about Kingfield I really don’t like (maybe because our only win there comes against Hayes and Yeading). It’s a real unknown challenge too, opening day is always tough to call. That said if you can’t be confident on opening day, you’ll never be confident again. 3-0 away win!
Images by David Holmes. A full set can be found at wokingfc.co.uk