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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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Getting To Know Tranmere Rovers

By Jacob Greenwood

Woking head to Merseyside on Saturday as they go in search of their first away win of the season at Tranmere Rovers.

Garry Hill and his Woking side are likely to be in high-spirits after back-to-back wins against Torquay United and Wrexham lifted them out of the relegation zone. However, The Cards will visit a Tranmere side who will be looking to prove a point after the departure of manager Gary Brabin last weekend.

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Woking Celebrate Beating Wrexham 2-0

Tranmere narrowly missed out on a play-off spot last season and had made a good start to the 2016/17 campaign until defeats at Aldershot Town, Lincoln City and Sutton United saw the club dismiss Brabin.

We caught up with Rovers fan Kenny Orr to find out what is going on at Prenton Park and what Cards fans can expect.

Gary Brabin – named manager of the month (for August) on September 2nd, out of a job by the 18th of the same month. This seems weird from an outsider’s perspective, but the fans seemed to have lost faith after a good start?

I can imagine from the outside looking in, it must seem crazy, but I’m relieved Brabin has gone. Last season we setup not to get beat rather than going for wins and we didn’t reach the play-offs which was a failure in the eyes of the supporters. We were told that a more positive approach would be taken this season and it never came, even when we won. Games were becoming laborious and extremely frustrating.

Who would you like to see come and take over the vacant management position?

There is a strong rumour about Nigel Adkins, who is an ex-player/coach, as well as being a Birkenhead native. He’d be a hell of a coup but part of me just can’t see it happening. If not, I’d like to see Tony Grant (ex Everton/M.City & now coaching) given a go as he apparently has a good reputation.

Want I want to see us avoid is a long ball merchant. I’ve had enough of it after Micky Adams and Gary Brabin.

Tranmere ended last season well and just missed out on the play-offs but were damaged by a difficult start. What did you make of the standard of football and what were your highs and lows?

The standard of football is ok and not too distant from League 2. The frustration for me is how many teams will automatically go for a physical approach to most games. It’s prehistoric and unnecessary in my eyes, it would be good to see more individual skill and nous on show.

Highs – beating Chester at home with a big crowd and solid performance was great.

Lows – Losing to Wrexham at home towards the end of the season killed our faint playoff hopes. Our home form was woeful for most of the season.

A good start to this season means Tranmere are still up the right end of the table. Would fans be happy with the play-offs or has the aim got to be automatic promotion?

Most fans expect a good crack for the automatic place, settling for the playoffs now would be seen as a major lack of ambition. The playoffs are always a lottery and we haven’t won one of them since 1991!

Who will Woking have to watch out for on Saturday?

James Norwood is always a threat and our most exciting player. He’s scored a few already and it would be good too see him played up front rather than being exiled out wide now that Brabin has gone.

Finally, what is your score prediction?

1-1. I can’t see a great change under an assistant manager being given control. Our players seem very low on confidence too, so you’re visiting at a good time.

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

Getting To Know Lincoln City

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.

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Sam-Yorke Celebrates a Pre-Season Goal

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

Carter Looks Ahead To Season After Positive Pre-Season

By Jacob Greenwood 

Woking’s newly promoted academy graduate Charlie Carter has admitted he is ‘buzzing’ for the new season to get underway next Saturday when Lincoln City visit Kingfield.

19-year-old Carter’s impressive form in pre-season, which included goals against Watford and Luton Town, saw the youngster earn a contract with the first team. Looking back on warm-up games, the midfielder believes that it has been a successful pre-season for himself and the rest of the squad, who have been helping him progress in training.

“It is going positively for me and the squad. We have had a good pre-season and we just need to take it into the season.

“In training they (Keiran Murtagh and Joey Jones) are always trying to help me out and help me progress. They’ve been great to me.”

On his position in the squad throughout the season, Carter is remaining upbeat, even if he doesn’t secure a starting place straight away.

“I am just happy to be in the squad right now. I will just keep working hard and if I get into the starting XI then that is good. If I don’t, I will still be positive because I am young and still learning.”

Charlie was talking to BBC Surrey’s Gary Smith and the full interview can be heard here.

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

Woking Sign Smith As Robinson Re-joins

By Jacob Greenwood

Woking manager Garry Hill has brought back midfielder Matt Robinson on loan until the end of the season and has also captured the signing of ex-Fulham youth player Alex Smith.

Robinson returned to Kenilworth Road following Woking’s 2-1 victory over Aldershot Town but has re-joined on loan until the end of the season.  21-year-old Robinson found his form at Kingfield playing in central midfield and even found himself on the scoresheet in Woking’s 5-1 win at Gateshead.

The Cards have also signed 24-year-old Alex Smith. The ex-Fulham youth player, who can play in defence or midfield, made one senior appearance for West London side in the Premier League. Smith has since been at Swindon and most recently Yeovil town before being released at the end of last season.

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Robinson Stabs Home At Gateshead 

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

 

Getting To Know The Opposition – Aldershot Town

By Jacob Greenwood

Woking welcome Aldershot Town to Kingfield on Saturday as bragging rights are once again up for grabs.

The Cards took all three points in the corresponding fixture last week with John Goddard’s goal proving the difference.

Both teams come into the game following draws on Monday and will be looking to sign off from the hectic Christmas period with a win.

We caught up with Shots fan Tommy Anderson to get his views on last week’s game and Saturday’s tie.

Woking took all three points on Boxing Day thanks to a John Goddard goal. What were your thoughts on last week’s game?

Ultimately I left the ground very disappointed! I didn’t feel Aldershot did enough to get anything out of the game and the first half performance in particular was disappointing. Second half we huffed and puffed a bit more but just didn’t have that creative spark to break down a determined and dogged Woking defence. I thought Woking played some good passing football and overall deserved the three points.

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Barry Smith told the media after the game “you can’t tell me that Woking were the better team today”. Do you think he was right and that Aldershot deserved more out of the game?

Those were certainly interesting comments from Barry and ones I disagree with, I think Woking were better than Aldershot on the day, Woking played a high tempo game throughout looking to counter when appropriate knocking the ball about really well. Aldershot resorted to constantly pump long balls into the box which is something we haven’t done all season, so I think you have to give Woking credit for utilising a winning game plan.

The Shots got a good draw at Eastleigh on Monday. What can they take away from that game?

A very good draw I must say and a much improved performance to go with it. We all went to Eastleigh thinking the worse but come out in a very positive mood. Eastleigh got awarded a controversial penalty early on and at that point you’re thinking we could lose this game by 3/4, but Aldershot picked themselves up, got the ball on the floor and certainly matched Eastleigh’s play, won a penalty ourselves which was duly taken by Sam Hatton and possibly given the chances in the second half could have gone on to win it. However, all season we haven’t been clinical enough where it matters but we certainly earned a deserved point.

Brodie didn’t take part in Monday’s game, was this tactical or was this due to injury?

The initial feedback was because of an injury. It was reported that Richard had suffered a back spasm so missed out. When you look back at how the game panned out and how Charlie Walker come back into fold it suited the system much better, I think tactically going forward I would consider given Richard a bit more rest because he seems to have completely gone off the boil in recent months. When he arrived at the club, he instantly won over the fans for his effort and goals scored, but recently that has dropped significantly and doesn’t look like coming back anytime soon. So personally speaking I think Richard could do with a brief spell on the sidelines.

Finally, what is your prediction for Saturday’s game?

Now that is the question! Given the complete change of performance from Boxing Day to Eastleigh 48 hours later, who knows how this one will pan out! I think Aldershot will raise their game again and come out once again as 2-1 winners at Kingfield putting a miserable and disastrous 2015 behind them. Goals from Sam Hatton and Charlie Walker will win us the game and give us a positive start to 2016!

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

 

Getting to Know the Opposition – Chester

By Jacob Greenwood

Woking travel to Cheshire this afternoon in search of their first league win since early October.

Garry Hill’s side have struggled to pick up points since a 3-0 win at Halifax Town and were soundly beaten against Macclesfield Town last weekend. A hat-trick from Kristian Dennis contributed to a 5-2 victory for The Silkmen on a difficult afternoon for The Cards. That was the second 5-2 at Kingfield this season. The other was a victory for Woking over Saturday’s opposition, Chester. A similar result against The Blues at the Deva Stadium would see The Cards pick up their first league double of the season.

We talked to Chester media man Chris Graham to find out the latest going ons in the north-west.

Chester face Woking for the second time this season (even though it is only November!) and the game is likely to tighter than the game at Kingfield. Woking ran out 5-2 winners that day but it was a close affair until the red card and penalty. Do you think that was the turning point?

Definitely, Chester had started fairly well and looked threatening as they went forward but to lose Ben Heneghan midway through the first half, after already having substituted Ross Hannah, and then immediately finding themselves a goal behind meant it was always going to be an uphill task. Despite playing with 10 men Chester still looked to attack, which allowed Woking that bit more space going forward and once Holman fired in the second at the start of the second half the floodgates opened. The game will always have at least one warm memory for Blues fans though as it was the game that saw Michael Kay score the 500th goal since Chester FC reformed in 2010.

Pattie celebrates against Chester

Chester now sit in mid-table seven points off of the play-offs. How would you evaluate the season so far?

It’s been a rather strange start to the season, with the side being so inconsistent it’s difficult to work out where they truly sit in the table, and being mid-table at the moment is only fair. There have been multiple false dawns, and just as you think the side has finally clicked and is capable of going on a run it then throws up some surprising results, accompanied by poor performances and they seem back to square one. The home form has been very strong, winning five, drawing four and losing just twice but is hindered by just three wins and two draws away from home. If the team can start to pick up results away from home, whilst maintaining strong home form there is no reason they can’t climb the table and push the play-off teams.

Has the highlight been the 3-2 victory over Wrexham?

Most definitely, it is the first game Chester fans look for when the fixtures are released and the players really managed to capture the passion of the fan base and turned in their performance of the season so far. John Rooney’s free kick was a thing of beauty, a curling effort from 30 yards, to open the scoring before Wrexham equalised through a penalty that even the away fans seemed surprised by at the time. Rooney was involved in the second as he set up Tom Shaw to coolly slot home before Kane Richards was completely unmarked at the back post to add a third. As is often the case with Chester though it was never comfortable and despite being the better side for most of the game Wrexham pulled one back in stoppage time to set up a nervy ending.

Ross Hannah and John Rooney have ten league goals between them this season. How has that been working as a partnership?

Signing Ross Hannah in the summer was huge for the club, he appeared to be the proven marksman that they had lacked the previous season and could push the team towards the playoffs, so far he has done a good job of leading the line whilst playing as a lone striker, a role he was not too familiar with when he arrived at the club. It is starting to come together for him though, with two goals against Kidderminster (and a third ruled out for offside) and a goal against Forest Green in his past three matches. John Rooney is key to the team though, he’s key to the midfield and often looks the man to unlock an opposition defence, it’s clear that he and Ross enjoy playing together and against Kidderminster, in Rooney’s 100th appearance for the club, Ross set John up to give Chester the lead before capitalising himself off a parried Rooney effort to secure the third.

Who will Woking have to look out for on Saturday?

At the back Ben Heneghan will be one of the key defenders, and I’m sure will look to make amends for his sending off in the reverse fixture earlier this season, after a slower than expected start Heneghan is starting to find the form he showed last season that earned him an England C call up. In the midfield John Rooney will be the main threat, and if Woking are able to keep him quiet then they will go a long way to getting a positive result. Rooney is one of Chester’s top scorers as well as leading the team in assists, which shows how much of a danger he can pose. Up top Ross Hannah will do his best to keep Woking’s centre halves busy with his energy but James Roberts, who is on loan from Oxford United, is one who could cause some real danger. Roberts has impressed in his spell with the club, scoring an emotional goal in his return to action against Halifax after he tragically lost his brother following his debut in the victory against Wrexham.
Finally, what is your score prediction?

Looking at the two sides recent form I can only go for a Chester victory, as mentioned earlier they’ve been very solid at home while Woking have only won twice away from home all season. I expect it to be close and possibly only a goal in it so I’ll go 2-1 to Chester.

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

Aldershot Town v Woking – Betting Preview

By Jacob Greenwood

Woking make the short trip to Aldershot Town on Tuesday evening for what is likely to be their toughest test so far this season.

The Cards remain unbeaten and go in to the game in good form following wins against Dover, Wrexham and Lincoln. The Shots, however, remain somewhat of a bogey side for Woking following two derby wins for the Hampshire side last season.

Morgan celebrates his second vs Lincoln
Morgan celebrates his second vs Lincoln

For Woking to extend their winning run you can get 15/8 at Ladbrokes and for the sides to share the spoils 13/5 with Bet365. For Aldershot to bounce back from a narrow defeat at Halifax on Saturday you can get them best prices 6/4 at SkyBet.

The Shots won both their games against Woking last season 2-1 at for that to happen again is 19/2 with BetVictor.

Dean Morgan has scored three in his last two and for him to score first you can get 6/2 at BetVictor.

Woking have conceeded in their last three games but still gone on to win. Get both teams to score and Woking to win at 9/2 with William Hill.

Johnson's goal wasn't enough as Woking went down 2-1 last season
Johnson’s goal wasn’t enough as Woking went down 2-1 last season

Everything Woking FC Predicts –

A tight game with no much either way. My head says a 1-1 draw (13/2 BetVictor) but my heart says (and hopes!) for 2-1 to The Cards! (19/2 BetVictor)

 

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

All odds are correct at the time of publishing.

Getting to know the opposition – Aldershot Town

By Jacob Greenwood

Woking welcome local rivals Aldershot Town to Kingfield on Monday as The Cards push for a top ten finish.

The home side will be looking to restore some local pride after losing 2-1 in the reverse fixture at the start of the season. Woking will be without captain Mark Ricketts who was sent off during their 2-2 draw at Forest Green Rovers on Saturday.

Goddard fires Woking into a 2-1 lead at FGR
Goddard fires Woking into a 2-1 lead at FGR

Monday’s visitors took a big step towards securing their Conference place for next season with a win against Sailsbury on Friday. We got the latest from The Recreation Ground from Shots reporter Tommy Anderson.

How important a rivalry do Aldershot fans rank Woking?

Very importantly! I think this year’s rivalry is a little bit different to other year’s simply for the fact that until August we hadn’t played against each other for over five years, so it has definitely taken a while for the banter and views amongst both sets of fans to come out. But now Monday is edging ever nearer the messagboards are filled with opposing fans views which is fun and at times painful to read. Of course Woking are a big rival to Aldershot because we are only 11 miles apart, and also if you look back to the years from 2003 to around 2008 the attendances generated always exceed over 3,600+ with two Sky Sports showings of the games. Not to forget  one of the last meetings being shown on Setanta Sports for the Setanta Shield when we played the Semi-Final at Aldershot, which was a thoroughly entertaining game which ended in a 4-3 penalty win for the Shots!

Aldershot have been in a fiercely fought relegation battle this season after starting the season on minus ten. A win at Alfreton and a draw at Macclesfield have massively helped your chances of staying up, haven’t they?

They certainly have! The run of form we were on going into those fixtures was very worrying to say the least and without doubt relegation form after away defeats to Tamworth and Braintree and a home defeat to Gateshead. We did manage to beat Hyde four days after losing to Gateshead albeit with our heart strings pulling in the final minutes of the match. No disrespect to Hyde but if we didn’t win at home to them then we could almost certainly have written ourselves off because at that point it just can’t get any lower but even after that win you look at the fixtures coming up and you see Luton, Alfreton and Macclesfield all away from home and your thinking ‘oh dear!Thing’s could get quite difficult here if we don’t pick up some points’ Dartford and Chester were both picking up the odd win here and there and ourselves and Hereford were not.

However, to be fair to our lads they put in a terrific battling performance at Luton and deserved a point at least, you sit there thinking at that moment this could really damage the mental strength of the players going into Alfreton simply for the fact they played so well for 86 minutes and then concede a sloppy goal but it was completely the opposite. Our start away at Alfreton was terrific and being 2-0 up after 16 minutes I am standing there thinking surely this is a dream!! But then to go on and win 4-1 against a team whose home record was very good was a great feat from the players and then of course last Saturday at Macclesfield to nick a vital point in the 95th minute was huge, not only for the fact we didn’t lose but also for the fact that we are now out of the bottom four and physiologically that can change everything and I really hope it does.

If Aldershot do survive this season where do you think they will aim to finish next season? Are the fans happy with just surviving?

IF we manage to beat the drop this season, I think the goal for next season will be to consolidate in the division, although that’s not to say we don’t have an aim to reach the play-off places because you have to show some kind of ambition if you want to bring the crowds in.

I am sure that Andy Scott and the players at the club will all tell you that they ultimately want to achieve promotion but if we can build on this season and go one better in terms of our league position next season then I am sure the fans will be happy. In answer to your other question, no, the majority of supporters won’t just be happy to survive and they will want to see a steady improvement of the team year on year and if that happens that the majority will be satisfied but I think a club the size of Aldershot in this division and with the budget allocated, I would like to think that our aim is to do more than survive and I am sure it will be.

Aldershot Town beat Woking 2-1 earlier in the season.
Aldershot Town beat Woking 2-1 earlier in the season.

Brett Williams has been one of your key players this season. Both him and Bradley Bubb were at Woking last season, how have they performed together this season?

Brett Williams has been a breath of fresh air this season in terms of the number of goals he has scored because we have not had a striker who has accumulated that number of goals for Aldershot for a very long time! If there is one criticism that myself and other Aldershot fans will have of Brett is that at time he can become quite lazy and give up on loose balls instead of trying his utmost to try and retrieve the ball to carry on an attack. He really has surprised many including myself because when you look at his past, he has never really been known as a goalscorer but he does seem to have found his feet at Aldershot and that has shown with the goals scored.

The re-signing of Bradley Bubb was very well received by supporters back in January. There was a lot of frustration and anger by many supporters at the aftermath of his departure for the simple fact we never really got to see the best of Bradley because quite simply he was never given a chance to prove himself by the then manager Dean Holdsworth. This didn’t surprise me at all after witnessing the way Holdsworth treated certain other players at the club during his tenure. Another reason many Shots fans were so unhappy that Bradley had been shipped out on loan was when we were at the bottom of League Two struggling for goals it appeared he was banging them in left, right and centre for Woking which left a real sour taste in the mouth!!

Bubb featuring for Woking last season
Bubb featuring for Woking last season

But in regards to this season he started off well when we re-signed him in January but has since picked up a few knocks and niggles which has resulted in his form dipping. One thing you can be sure with Bradley is the fact that he is always poaching for goals and is a real danger in the opposing penalty box.

Who else will Woking have to look out for on Monday?

There are two players that come to mind. One is winger Adam Mekki who is now starting to show some real promise once again after going a bit cold for 6 months or so but after a return from injury he is now showing some consistency and will certainly give any right back a torrid time when he is playing at his best. The other player for me who is shining is Manny Oyeleke. Manny is another player who is currently now on his second loan spell at the club and what a coup that was by Andy Scott in bringing Manny back. A terrific box-to-box midfielder who has bags of energy and pace and also has an eye for a goal from a mazy run out of nowhere so be warned Woking!!

Finally, what is your score prediction?

This is going to be a very tough game indeed but one I am really looking forward to because Woking are clearly a totally different side to the one that came to the EBB back in August. They have strengthened well with the additions of Scott Rendell and Jack Marriott (who as I am writing these notes has been recalled by Ipswich which is most definitely a positive for Aldershot!) and of course you have experienced players such as Kevin Betsy and Giuseppe Sole who are threats.

You also have a player who Shots fans are very familiar with in Josh Payne ,who of course used to play for us before his antics off the field put pay to that. It all adds to the spice of what is going to be a great occasion!

I think it will be a very close game with a cautious approach taken by both sides in the first half, the first goal scored will up the tempo, therefore regarding a prediction my head tells me it will be a 1-1 but my heart tells me the Shots will nick it 2-1. So my prediction is a 2-1 Aldershot win!

Photo by David Holmes. A full set can be viewed at wokingfc.co.uk

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