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Reviewing the 2017/18 Woking squad – who should stay and who should go?

By Glen Harrington

It’s hard to believe quite what has happened to the Cards this season. Sitting in third place in the National League table after 15 games, with a squad assembled by the seemingly promising new management team of Anthony Limbrick and Jason Goodliffe, it was a group of players that looked set to challenge for a play-off place ahead of schedule – just twelve months into the proposed three year promotion plan.

Even as that promising run of form tailed off in the lead up to Christmas, as injuries and off the field uncertainty began to take their toll, few could have predicted what would come in the following weeks and months. The Cards would eventually go down by a single point after picking up just three wins since the turn of the year – returning to National League South after a six-year stint in the top flight of non-league football.

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Down & Out – Woking Drop Out The National League 

As the dust begins to settle on Woking’s relegation and with another ‘fresh start’ looming at the start of the new season – when, potentially, there will be some new faces behind the scenes and, certainly, there will be a new management team in charge – many members of a beleaguered and unfancied squad are at a crossroads; who will stay and who will go? Let’s take a look at each member of the team and their future prospects.

Goalkeepers:

Nathan Baxter

The 19-year-old has undoubtedly been one of the Cards’ stand-out players this season after joining on loan from Chelsea. He has played the most minutes of any Chelsea loanee this year and despite suffering relegation with the Cards his parent club will likely be delighted with his progress.

There were certainly questions marks over the youngster’s ability to play a full-season of men’s football, particularly considering his relatively slight stature, but he has answered his doubters with aplomb after taking over from veteran stopper Michael Poke in the summer.

The Cards would be delighted to take Baxter back for another season, but after 18 months playing in the National League the chances of such a move look slim, with Chelsea surely more amenable to loaning him out to another fifth tier side or even into the lower echelons of the Football League.

Will he stay? Verdict: No chance

Defenders:

Richard Orlu

The big defender was Anthony Limbrick’s first signing as Woking manager. The re

action to his arrival was mixed despite an impressive record with former club Dover Athletic and, for the most part, those fears have proved more than just as Orlu has struggled to adjust to a different style of football.

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Despite scoring a memorable goal away to Guiseley, netting with his first touch after coming on as a substitute, his defensive record has not made for pretty reading – with 51 goals conceded in his 29 starts – and after being made club captain in August he eventually lost his place to Jordan Wynter.

Whilst his experience could be considered valuable and his ability could be more suited to regional football it’s hard to see much desire from either side in signing a new contract. Plus, as one of the marquee additions last summer his wages are likely to be more than the Cards are keen to expend.

Will he stay? Verdict: Not worth the money

Nathan Ralph

After finishing last season strongly the winger turned full-back has taken another step forward this campaign and has arguably become one of the Cards most consistent performers. He has struggled more with injury problems since the turn of the year, with two lengthy spells out of the team, but for the most part he has enjoyed a positive year.

His form during the first-half of the season reportedly attracted interest from a number of Football League clubs and more recent reports suggest that he’s likely to be looking for a new club this summer now that his contract has expired.

It will be interesting to see how well he performs upon his return to league football – having previously played semi-regularly for Yeovil Town in League One – and after amassing more than 75 appearances during his two years with the Cards he could well be ready to hit the ground running.

Will he stay? Verdict: Destined for bigger things

Louis Ramsay

Another loan player, this time from Norwich City, but unfortunately he has not been able to make quite the same impression as his goalkeeper. He has never truly recovered from the injury he picked up during the 2-0 win over Sutton United back in September and he’s been in and out of the team since then – finishing the year with 30 appearances in all competitions.

Ramsay is only 20 and has certainly shown in his better performances that he has the potential to be a promising player, but one can’t help but feel that the next stage of his development is best-suited to somewhere other than the Laithwaite Community Stadium, where the likes of Adam Newton and Jake Caprice have raised expectations for the standards Woking full-backs should be meeting.

Will he stay? Verdict: We can do better

Josh Staunton

The 22-year-old centre-back has made a big impression this season, despite his team’s struggles at the back, after joining from Dagenham and Redbridge last summer. His performances earned him a call-up to the England C squad and the Cards were at their best when both Staunton and defensive partner Jordan Wynter were fit and playing alongside each other.

He chipped in with a couple of memorable goals – in the draws with Wrexham and former club Dagenham – whilst it was his deflected effort that gave Woking their win against Chester in February, the club’s last win on home soil this season.

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Staunton is on a two-year contract and should, on paper at least, still be here next season. The difficulty will come in repelling interest from elsewhere. With a season of regular first-team football behind him and after recognition on the international stage it’s easy to see another National League team taking an interest and testing the Cards’ resolve to keep hold of him.

Will he stay? Verdict: Make him captain and hope he does

Jordan Wynter

The 24-year-old was initially signed as a versatile utility man capable of playing at full-back and in centre midfield. However, he’s turned out to be a gem of a signing, and has found a new home playing at centre-back.

After initially starting there to cover a defensive injury crisis, with Richard Orlu and Joey Jones both out injured, his performances were a revelation and his initial partnership with Josh Staunton coincided with the team’s best form of the season. If both had managed to remain fit until the end of the season you have to imagine that the Cards might have clung on to National League safety.

It wouldn’t come as a surprise to discover that one or more National League teams had an interest in Wynter but, equally, it’s not unreasonable to think that his performances might have slipped under the radar in a team that still shipped plenty of goals.

Will he stay? Verdict: Would be a great capture

Matt Young

The former Tottenham and Southampton youngster was signed as a back-up full-back after doing enough in pre-season to earn a contract. Due to the injury problems experienced by both Louis Ramsay and Nathan Ralph he’s ended up playing a lot more games than anyone, including himself, probably expected with 42 appearances racked up in all competitions.

He’s shown flashes of the potential that saw him play 20 games in League 2 for Carlisle and had National League sides Dover and Kidderminster taking a chance on him but, for the most part, he has proved to be a weak link in a Woking side often under the quash.

His goal against Peterborough in the FA Cup, which briefly brought our second round replay level at 2-2, will always live in the memory as a standout moment from his time in a Woking shirt. Unfortunately though, he hasn’t quite shown enough quality over the course of the season to suggest that he deserves another contract.

Will he stay? Verdict: Not good enough

Midfielders:

Charlie Carter

You could be forgiven for forgetting that the midfielder is still only 21. After graduating to the first-team from the Woking academy in the summer of 2016 he has been a model professional while continuing to improve and impress with his performances on the pitch.

His 13 goals in all competitions this season mean he finishes the campaign as the club’s top scorer, whilst his career record for the club now stands at 19 goals in just 58 starts – with 88 appearances to his name in total. Whilst there have been bad games and underwhelming performances mixed in with the good ones that has to be expected from a player still learning his trade.

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The club and its fans always enjoy having players who are ‘one of their own’ and Carter certainly fits the bill. If he can repeat the same level of marked improvement again during his third season as he did during his first two then he could be in for a career-defining year in 2018/19.

Will he stay? Verdict: Should be a key player

Regan Charles-Cook

Another ‘what if’ player for the Cards this season who didn’t recover from a long injury lay-off; the Charlton loanee was arguably the standout player during his initial loan spell as he scored six times in all competitions including the winner against Dagenham and a brace in a 2-0 win over Sutton.

When he returned for the home game with FC Halifax Town on the 10th March expectations were understandably high. Sadly, he has looked every inch a player who is playing within himself, virtually ever since. Whether it’s the leftover effects of the injury, the loss of the likes of Joe Ward and Inih Effiong to play alongside, or simply a dip in form it has been a frustrating second spell for him.

Charlton certainly appear to rate him highly after giving him a runout in a number of cup games this season and surely the London club will see his imminent future at a much higher level than National League South. Indeed, if he can rediscover his early season form, he could find himself playing League One football next year.

Will he stay? Verdict: Unlikely to return

Anthony Cook

The 28-year-old was brought in to help fill the void left by the departure of Joe Ward to Peterborough in January and, whilst he lacks the flair of his fellow-winger, he has done a respectable job across his 17 appearances whilst on loan from Ebbsfleet United.

Unfortunately, he has not been able to add goals, but despite that his tenacity down the flank has not gone unnoticed and his efforts have been predominately well received. His relationship with his brother Regan has also been appreciated with comparisons drawn to former favourites the Wye’s.

He looks unlikely to have a future at Ebbsfleet, who are already amongst those chasing promotion from the National League after finishing sixth this season, and he could make the perfect signing for a team looking to return to non-league’s top tier next year having impressed for Chelmsford and Bromley, as well as the Fleet, at that level in the past.

Will he stay? Verdict: Useful experience at the right level

Kane Ferdinand

A near ever-present for Woking this season after amassing 50 appearances in all competitions whilst also chipping in with four goals. He might not be the most fashionable player in the Woking team but he certainly does a job in the midfield engine room and keeps things ticking over with his ball retention and physical presence.

Whilst he isn’t every supporter’s cup of tea he’s certainly valued by his teammates, picking up the players’ player of the season award following Saturday’s final game at home to Dover, and he could yet prove to be a surprise hit should the Cards hold on to his services.

It’s worth remembering that Keiran Murtagh, the undoubted star of our 2016/17 season, was once viewed in much the same vein as Ferdinand after several years of underwhelming performances before he finally hit top gear just when his side most needed him. Ferdinand’s record at National League South level, where he has previously impressed for East Thurrock, suggests that he could be the next Woking midfielder to make a surprising comeback.

Will he stay? Verdict: An uninspiring but necessary signing

Chez Isaac

Many supporters might have forgotten just how good Chez Isaac was during the first-half of the season. In fact, he’s another player who could conceivably have helped the Cards avoid relegation, had he not endured such a long spell out of the side due to injury.

A busy and tenacious presence at the base of the midfield he was a key figure in the Cards early season good form and should consider himself extremely unfortunate to end the year with a second successive relegation – having already gone down with Braintree last time around.

His leadership qualities also proved key to the Cards during the extended absence of Richard Orlu and Joey Jones as he was often utilised as the stand-in captain. If he does stay then he should almost certainly be considered for a similar role again next season alongside Josh Staunton.

Will he stay? Verdict: Get him fit and he can be vice-captain

Joey Jones

Where do you start? It’s hard not to feel sorry for Joey Jones who, on occasion, appears to be resembling a one-man highlight reel of mistakes and comedy errors – capped off by his televised humiliation in the closing seconds of the Cards’ 3-2 defeat at home to champions Macclesfield Town.

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Despite all of the issues one can’t help but feel that a talented player is still on offer. The midfielder turned defender turned midfielder appears to have settled into a role he’s best-suited to in recent weeks, playing between the defence and the midfield as a deep-lying playmaker capable of winning the ball and starting an attacking move for his team.

He’s also racked up more than 200 appearances for the club, making him comfortably its longest-serving player, and with few alternative suitors likely to be queuing up for his services perhaps the Cards could do worse than to give him one more chance to impress whilst at a lower level.

Will he stay? Verdict: There’s still something there

Fabio Saraiva

Another player worthy of sympathy; the 24-year-old who signed from Merstham in the summer of 2016 raised many an eyebrow in his debut campaign as he scored 15 goals in all competitions – finishing second in the club’s golden boot race to Gozie Ugwu and playing a big part in his team’s league survival. Unfortunately, he’s not been able to recreate that form this time around.

Injuries have played a big part in his fall from grace with the midfielder managing just seven league starts all season and only 21 appearances in all competitions. A recent hat-trick for the club’s Under-23 side acted as a reminder of his ability, but even after that performance he was ignored for the club’s final game of the season at home to Dover, with the returning Bobson Bawling preferred for the substitutes’ bench.

His versatility is also valuable – he’s able to play out wide, in midfield, behind the striker and even as an emergency left-back – but despite all that he’s likely to be fairly low down on any new manager’s list of contractual targets with his priority surely to be in adding more diversity and creativity to a midfield which has just been too ‘samey’ during the past year.

Will he stay? Verdict: Hard to see where he fits in

Forwards:

Jason Banton

It’s a sad indictment of his time at Woking that one of the biggest issues facing the Cards new manager will likely be how to get rid of Jason Banton, who still has a year left of the contract he signed last summer, after joining the club from Crawley Town.

In hindsight things started badly. Banton, a player renowned for his poor track record when it came to injuries, was already struggling for fitness when he joined the club and he wasn’t able to make his debut until the game with Leyton Orient in the fifth match of the season. He showed flashes of his ability in the early months, scoring three goals, but those positive signs became more and more sporadic as the season wore on.

Ultimately, he was hung out to dry following the departure of Anthony Limbrick, with new manager Jason Goodliffe talking about only including players who wanted to fight for the club’s National League survival. Banton didn’t play for the team at all in the final five games and it’s hard to see him doing so again; a sad end for one of the more disappointing signings in recent Woking history.

Will he stay? Verdict: Please someone take him… please

Bobson Bawling

Is there a more unfortunate player in the squad this season? When Bawling went off at half-time in the Cards FA Cup draw at home to Concord Rangers he left a side that had lost just one of the last nine league games and were riding high near the top of the table. The next time he would appear in a Woking shirt it would be as a late substitute for a side less than 20 minutes from relegation.

It’s hard to know how well, or not, Bawling might have done given a full season. The signs were certainly promising following his move from Crawley Town. He was the perfect Anthony Limbrick player as a pacey wide-man with a good delivery and playing opposite Joe Ward, either side of Inih Effiong, he formed part of a promising attacking trio.

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The former Chelsea and Watford academy player is still only 22 and has time to recover from his long-term injury lay-off. His brilliant goal against Torquay United back at the end of August was a clear sign of what he could produce more of in the future and if he’s got the all clear from the doctors then he’s surely deserving of another chance to prove himself.

Will he stay? Verdict: Have injury problems hidden a good player?

Jonny Edwards

The 21-year-old was signed as a replacement for Jamie Philpot following his loan spell during the first-half of the season. Whilst Philpot also endured mixed fortunes during his time as a Woking player it’s hard to argue that the Millwall man was the more consistent centre-forward.

On loan from Hull City, Edwards looked surprisingly out of his depth at National League level, and despite a scrambled goal against Hartlepool and a gift-wrapped strike versus Maidenhead – two games that both ended in defeat – he did little to endear himself to the Woking faithful. It’s hard to see him playing any higher than National League North/South level next season and it almost certainly won’t be with the Cards.

Will he stay? Verdict: How has this lad got a Championship club?

Reece Grego-Cox

The former QPR striker, who boasts Premier League experience on his resume, was signed at the turn of the year as a replacement for Inih Effiong following his move to Ross County. Whilst he’s a completely different type of striker, one arguably unsuited to our style of play, he’s done very well.

He’s scored four goals in 18 appearances and has worked very hard, often undertaking a thankless task as a lone striker, running the channels and holding the ball up to the best of his abilities. There will no doubt be a number of teams keeping an eye on him, and he has himself admitted that he is desperate to return to the Football League, but he could do worse than to get another year of regular first-team football under his belt before potentially moving on.

Will he stay? Verdict: Would be a great addition if we can tempt him

Louie Theophanous

A strange signing in many ways, the imposing forward was added on a short-term deal in February to try and boost the Cards’ survival hopes, a ploy which failed quite spectacularly. Theophanous had never played at National League level before and was unable to recreate his previous form from regional football in his 11 appearances – failing to score a single goal.

Staines, Bromley, St Albans and Chelmsford have all made the most of Theophanous’ talents in the sixth tier of English football but after dropping down to the Isthmian League last summer, albeit with free-spending Billericay Town, and failing to standout one can’t help but feel that he’s better suited to that sort of level moving forward.

Will he stay? Verdict: Needs to drop back down another level

Academy Players: Sam Mason, Lazar Stojsavljevic, Declan Appau, Ivan Nsimbi, Reggie Young

The progress of the club’s young academy players has been a real highlight of a miserable season. With five new names joining Charlie Carter in the first-team there have certainly been moments to savour. Sam Mason featured on four occasions during Nathan Baxter’s brief spell out through injury and by all accounts did very well.

Lazar Stojsavljevic turned in one of the best defensive performances of the season from anyone in a Woking shirt as he helped secure a 1-0 win over Dagenham on his first club start, before scoring a memorable winner against AFC Fylde, who would go on to finish in the play-off places. It was extremely cruel that an injury sustained in the same game would rule him out for the rest of the year.

Declan Appau scored the goal of the season against Guiseley before having his campaign cut short by injury and Reggie Young did enough to earn a squad number late in the year. It was a shame not to see more of Ivan Nsimbi after he impressed in pre-season but by all accounts he has struggled with various injury problems ever since.

Mason and Stojsavljevic look like natural signings as first-team cover. Appau might struggle to find a place in an already crowded midfield that still needs reinforcements whilst it might be too soon for Young and Nsimbi to again be expecting first-team places after making a minimal impression.

Will they stay? Verdict: Plenty of potential

So, who are we ending up with?

Goalkeepers: Sam Mason

Defence: Josh Staunton, Jordan Wynter, Lazar Stojsavljevic

Midfield: Charlie Carter, Anthony Cook, Kane Ferdinand, Chez Isaac, Joey Jones

Forwards: Bobson Bawling, Reece Grego-Cox

The makings, in theory, of a promising National League South squad; a new goalkeeper and two new full-backs will be high on the agenda but the central-defensive area could be fairly well stocked with Josh Staunton, Jordan Wynter and Lazar Stojsavljevic all exciting young players.

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In midfield we’re looking at a quartet who should be easily good enough at this level in Charlie Carter, Kane Ferdinand, Chez Isaac and Joey Jones and if we can add some defensive steel, in the Damon Lathrope mould, and some creativity in the ilk of Keiran Murtagh then we should be ready to go. Anthony Cook and Bobson Bawling offer a mix of youth and experience out wide although a couple more exciting flair players could really help to add an extra dimension.

Up front will need serious strengthening as Reece Grego-Cox is the only option in the current scenario and despite his qualities he’s proven that he’s not capable of playing as a lone striker. Inih Effiong is available again following his release by Ross County and could be a strong candidate to make his return. The important thing is surely that, unlike this season, we’re not left short of options up front. For a large part of this campaign we’ve made do with only two strikers and that has certainly been high on the list of shortcomings of the squad assembled by the former management team.

Whatever the end result proves to be we certainly seem set for an interesting summer ahead. Here’s hoping that we head into the start of next season in optimistic fashion and at least appear ready to hit the ground running in style upon our return to National League South.

Thanks for reading! Let me know your thoughts on Twitter @GlenH1292.

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

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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

 

 

 

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.

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