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FA Cup

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

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Getting To Know Stockport County

By Jacob Greenwood

Attention turns away from the league (thank goodness!) and towards the FA Cup this weekend as The Cards travel to Stockport County for their Round One tie.

After a string of poor results, Garry Hill’s side will now be focusing on how to overcome a County side that will certainly be ‘up for the cup’ under experienced manger Jim Gannon. Despite sitting in mid-table, the side from Greater Manchester had an impressive October, losing just one game to Kidderminster Harriers and winning their four other games.

Although they are in step two of non-league, County, as an ex-league side, are still widely seen as a ‘big club’ and even have a side named after them in China. A big crowd is expected on Saturday as they look to revisit some teams they were more familiar with on their journey in the higher tiers of English football.

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Woking Overcome Torquay in the 4th Qualifying Round

We talked to Sam Byrne from Stockport News about the club and what Woking fans can expect on Saturday.

Stockport will always been seen as a ‘big club’ thanks to their history, previously in Division 1, how have fans adapted to being a non-league team, are they just happy to have a club?

As you allude to in a question below, initially many probably thought County would be straight back up – firstly from the National League into the Football League, and then from the National League North back into the National League! So relegation into non-league in 2011 was gutting for the whole club, and while attendances both home and away have remained some of the best in non-league (and even better than some L2 and L1 clubs), I don’t think it’s the fans “adapting” to non-league. Just die-hard football fans doing what die-hard football fans of any club do.

You won’t find a single County fan who will claim to have truly enjoyed any part of non-league football – but as things got worse and worse both on and off the pitch over the last few years, an air of resignation and of being battered into submission from the fans seemed to appear, which is probably mistaken by some as acceptance from the fans of where the club finds itself.

When Stockport got relegated from The Conference it was though that they would come back up pretty soon, but it hasn’t happened, what has been going on at the club?

It’d probably be quicker to tell you what hasn’t happened at this club over the past few years than what has! Summing things up as briefly as possible, we dropped into non-league with Ray Mathias in charge – he’d steadied the ship on the pitch somewhat in League Two and fleetingly gave us a chance of survival, so most were happy with him staying in charge. But over that summer, a ‘consortium’ of Liverpool-based businessmen got their foot in the door and somehow were allowed to point Didi Hamann as manager with Mathias shown the door, before signing a boat-load of Liverpudlian players. The consortium, and Hamann, rather predictably left the club just two months later and County were left with a sinking ship which was now sinking even faster than before. So much has gone on over the past decade, and every single fan will point to a different issue being the most problematic, but that consortium being allowed to play Football Manager with the club despite no alleged evidence of any funds or backing was a big factor in things going even more wrong.

We swiftly dropped into the Conference North, and although there’s been three seasons of mid-table finishes, club legend Jim Gannon is back in charge with owners who are now steadying the ship off the pitch and doing their bit to tie up all the different debts/loans etcetera.

You’ll speak to some fans who won’t agree with that at all and who will argue that these same owners were some of the same people who were also in charge during our decline, and that gradual progress in the sixth division isn’t really progress – but the majority (in my opinion!) do support what’s currently going on. So that does just give you an idea of not just the issues on and off the pitch, but the differing views of the fanbase as well. I know I said it’d be a brief overview, but that’s almost impossible!

County currently sit in mid-table, what is the aim for this season in your opinion?

As mentioned, Jim Gannon is back in charge and he will have the support and patience of the vast majority of fans as he rebuilds. We really struggled last season under Neil Young with a high turnover of players and a rotten run of mid-season form, and Jim pretty much completely rebuilt the squad over the summer, so while the play-offs are the goal (Fylde will surely run away with the one automatic spot!) I imagine a season where County may just miss out on a play-off spot would be accepted by the fans, as long as progress on the pitch is being achieved. It’s a very tight division with any of around 9 teams going for the play-offs, but that will be the goal.

Coming from step two of non-league, County have already had a few games in The FA Cup this season, how did they get to round one?

We’ve had one of the more comfortable routes into the First Round, it has to be said. Three home ties in the three qualifying rounds, with only one of those coming against a side in the same division, and three 2-0 wins.

Hyde and Bishop Auckland from divisions seven & nine were swept aside quite routinely at Edgeley Park in the second and fourth (final) qualifying rounds, but the biggie was Salford City at home in the Third. Some County fans probably had a bit of a chip on their shoulder about the ‘media darlings’ of Salford after their Cup exploits on the BBC last season, so the 2-0 win and rather dominant performance was quite sweet. That provided everyone at the club with a lot of confidence as Salford were quite fancied and would have been confident of a win themselves.

How big a game is this for the club?

It’s massive. I think it’s fair to say nobody would dub Stockport vs Woking as a glamour tie for either side, but the occasion itself is big. It’s the first time since 2012 that we’ve reached the First Round proper, but as a National League side at the time, we were drawn away at Southend in what was probably the worst possible draw we could have got, and a 3-0 defeat beckoned. We’re just on the back of a run of four wins in five games now, so confidence is high all around, and many are looking at your away record and league position and fancying the win. I know Woking are pulling out all the stops to get fans travelling in big numbers, and I’m sure you’ll rightly fancy the result as well. As we discussed on Twitter, County are really pushing their reduced admission prices and trying to get as many fans through the gates as possible, so a big attendance could also be on the cards. So it will hopefully be a big atmosphere for what is a big occasion despite the tie on paper not looking the best!

Who will Woking have to watch out for on Saturday?

Easiest question you’ve given me! Danny Lloyd, the left-sided attacker signed from Fylde over the summer. 9 goals and 8 assists in 17 games so far this season for County. He’s proven a real fan favourite so far, and County will always be confident of a result home or away with him in the side. He was actually left out of the squad altogether last weekend in a 0-1 home defeat to Kidderminster with Saturday’s Cup tie in mind!

In midfield, Lewis Montrose – a former League Two title winner with Wycombe – has a touch of class and can look head and shoulders above this level when he’s on his game.

Finally, what’s your score prediction?

A: It’s a really tricky one. County could well be the bookies favourites, which is probably a bit harsh on Woking if so! I’m sure you guys will expect the win no matter your league position, just as I’m sure County fans would do against a lower division side. Jim Gannon will inspire confidence in the home fans due to his prior Cup exploits – he guided Northwich to the Second Round last season, where they were actually 2-0 up at Northampton only to lose 3-2 in the final eight minutes. He managed ten FA Cup games last season at Northwich – four more than Man Utd played, who won the entire competition!

I don’t much fancy a long Tuesday night mid-November trip to Woking (no offence!) so rather predictably, I’ll go for a 1-1 draw and a replay to follow!

Image from David Holmes. Find a full set on wokingfc.co.uk

Getting to know the opposition – Luton Town

Woking take a break from league action this weekend as them come up against Luton Town in the FA Cup 4th qualifying round.

The Cards have failed to make the first round of the FA Cup since the 2010/11 season when a goalless draw at Brighton & Hove Albion saw a lucrative cup replay at Kingfield.

Garry Hill’s men will have to produce a spirited and much improved performance from their recent 4-0 defeat at home to Luton which saw a brace from Luke Cullen.

Luton brush Woking away earlier this season
Luton brush Woking aside earlier this season

Luton have made an impressive start to their league campaign after failing to reach a play-off spot last season and currently sit third in the table. We talked to @LordLuton to find out the latest from Kenilworth Road.

After missing out in previous seasons promotion looks like a real possibility for you this season. How have the club changed under John Still?

After an excellent pre-season, we started this season fairly poorly with just two wins in our first eight games. The big difference this season is that the fans can see progress and logic behind decisions like team selection, formation, substitutions etc. and since the first few games, we’ve started turning draws into wins and begun to look a threat. Still takes a refreshingly honest approach to communications and when we’ve been poor, he hasn’t made excuses but has recognised what we’ve all seen. Not every manager we’ve had recently has been quite so skilled in dealing with the press and that can cause extra pressure in what is already an incredibly high-pressure job. That said, Still also has the benefit of reduced expectations from the Luton crowd: we no longer believe we should be beating every team 5 or 6 nil and accept that this is an incredibly tough league to succeed in.

You had a great run in the FA Cup last season which saw you knock out both Wolves and Norwich. Do you think having had this run the majority of fans would trade an early FA Cup exit for a title challenge?

Some would happily see us exit the FA Cup as soon as possible so we can concentrate on the league but others realise that progress in the Cup and a big third round tie and/or a TV appearance can bring in money that can be used to strengthen a team that can compete to one that can aspire to win the league. I think the Trophy is possibly a different matter although if you look at teams that have been promoted from the Conference, many have been successful in both the FA Cup and Trophy too.

Scott Rendell scored the winner at Norwich in the cup and has been on a short term loan at Kingfield in the last month. Can you see him getting back into your squad on his return?

To be honest I can’t but that’s no reflection on his ability and attitude which I think are both top quality at this level. The fact is that right now there are several players who fit into the way we currently line up a little better than Scott would.

You handed out somewhat of a battering to Woking when you visited Kingfield earlier this month, do you think a similar squad will feature or will we have new players to look out for?

We’re unbeaten in eight games, including six wins, so I don’t expect to see major changes this Saturday from the team that won 4-3 away at Tamworth last Saturday. Possibly Alex Lawless, who

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scored the winner against Wolves last season, might come in for Sean Whalley. We’ve signed an under-19 Portuguese international player called David Viana, who had a spell at Atletico Madrid, who has yet to feature. If he comes off the bench and makes an appearance, he’s one to look out for.

Finally, what is your score prediction?

We’ve scored three or more in seven out of our last eight games so a solitary goal will probably settle it. I’ll go 1-0 to Luton but I’d prefer a 3-3 draw and a replay at Kenilworth Road.

Questions and article by Jacob Greenwood @JGreenwood91

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

Come on you Cards!

Woking draw Luton Town in the FA Cup

Woking will face Luton Town  in the fourth qualifying round of this season’s FA Cup on the weekend of the 26th/27th October.

The Hatters won comfortably at Kingfield earlier this month with a 4-0 victory.

The Cards have a poor FA Cup record in the past two seasons and this has seen them go out at the first attempt to Ebbsfleet United last season and Maidenhead United the season before.

Woking fans will have fonder memories of the competition from previous seasons including a draw at Brighton & Hove Albion and a narrow loss to Swindon Town the season before.

The club were also written in to FA Cup folk law in the 90’s after a Tim Buzaglo hat-trick earned Woking a 4-2 victory at West Brom.

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