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Getting to know the opposition – Forest Green Rovers

By Jacob Greenwood

Woking welcome Forest Green Rovers to Kingfield tonight as they look to extend their winning run.

Goals from Scott Rendell and Joe Jones saw Woking claim their fourth league win in March making it a perfect month for The Cards as they beat Wrexham 2-1.

Tonight’s visitors find thmselves five places and four points ahead of Woking when they arrive at Kingfield tonight. However, this will be a tough game for Woking as FGR have invested heavily in their side for this season and will be aiming for the play-offs.

Forest Green Rovers’ last six results –

Southport 2-0 Forest Green

Rendell puts Woking ahead at Kingfield on Saturday.
Rendell puts Woking ahead at Kingfield on Saturday.

Forest Green 0-0 Welling

Forest Green 2-1 Grimsby

Tamworth 1-2 Forest Green

Forest Green 0-2 Braintree

Forest Green 4-0 Salisbury

We talked to Richard Joyce @RichardDJoyce to find out more about the Gloucestershire side before we were due to play them at Kingfield in Febuary.
Forest Green were among the favourites to get promoted this season but have struggled in the league, where has it gone wrong this season?
 Consistency has been a major issue. Going into this weekend’s game is the first time Rovers have recorded back-to-back wins since November and it is always hard to predict which way it is going to go while our away form has been poor too. The squad is very strong but was still suffering a hangover of the disappointment of last season in my opinion where we went from being in the top three to drastically dropping to tenth in the final couple of months of the campaign. Subsequently that hangover ultimately cost David Hockaday his job in late October when team morale was pretty low. The players say they were not feeling the pressure of the ‘favourites’ tag being put on them but given Rovers have been nicknamed ‘moneybags’ by some it has made life difficult sometimes.
 
You have appointed Adrian Pennock as your first team manager, what difference has he made?
 The changes which Ady has implemented since getting the job a few months ago are just about beginning to show right now. He has added a lot of personality to the role which I know has been welcomed by the squad, so what he has done off the pitch has been fantastic to raise the morale of the team which was pretty low following David Hockaday’s departure. On the pitch however he has made the team much more of a threat. We continue to keep possession brilliantly but we are more direct with our use of it unlike previously when we often provided little threat despite dominating the majority of games. He’s brought in a number of signings including Lee Hughes who is probably the stand out one but he is eager to cut down on the squad too which isn’t the biggest in the league but remains quite large.
Betsy scores the opener against FGR last season.
Betsy scores the opener against FGR last season.
James Norwood has got 16 goals for you so far this season, will he be a player to look out for on Tuesday?
 James is a very explosive player and he finished as our golden boot winner last year with 15 goals so he is well on his way to beating that record. The great thing about James is not only does he find the back of the net but he creates goals for his team mates too. He is one of the fastest players in the league and I would not fancy being a defender if he was running at me and powering towards goal. So yes he’ll definitely be a threat on Saturday – Forest Green fans will be just hoping he remembers his shooting boots like he has done in our last two matches.
What other players have you been impressed by this season?
 
Marcus Kelly has been an absolute gem. Signing a one-year deal in the summer after a fair few years at this level it is remarkable that he is not playing in League Two. From midfield he has averaged a goal every other game pretty much this season and is very lively. Al Bangura adds a lot of class that saw him burst into the Premier League as a youngster while the impact of Lee Hughes of late has been great too. If selected at centre back, because he has recently been suspended, Dale Bennett has been a class act as well.
Finally what is your score prediction?
 It’s ambitious because our away form this season hasn’t been great (only three wins on the road) but I am going to go for a 2-1 win for Forest Green with our goals coming from James Norwood and Danny Wright. I can see Kevin Betsy getting Woking’s goal as he did against us once last season.
Questions & article by Jacob Greenwood @JGreenwood91
Photo by David Holmes. The full set can be found at wokingfc.co.uk

Getting to know the opposition – Macclesfield Town

A brace from Kevin Betsy secured Woking’s second away win of the season on Tuesday at Hyde and only four days later the Cards find themselves back in the north-west in search of another three points on the road.

Woking celebrate during their 2-0 victory at Hyde
Woking celebrate during their 2-0 victory at Hyde

 This time Woking face a struggling Macclesfield team that are yet to register their first win of the season. However, the Cheshire side have a vastly experienced squad and will give Woking a real test. We talked to Macclesfield fan Ian Stewart @ianthenoodle to find out what we can expect from the Silkmen on Saturday.

Hi Ian, It’s been an unsteady start to the season for yourselves and has seen you yet to win a game, has this come as a surprise to Silkmen fans?

 It depends. The resources at Macclesfield have been low, and building virtually a new squad for the new season has been tough. But with the level of players with Football League experience and ability it has come as a bit of a surprise that the season has started so poorly.

The results have not been embarrassing; all defeats have been by a one goal margin, although in some of these defeats, the performance has been very underwhelming, defeats at home to Braintree and Alfreton stand out. And waiting for the elusive win is incredibly frustrating, especially when we were 2-0 up at Gateshead, only for the flaws in defending set pieces to be exposed enough for it to finish 2-2.

And against Luton, all set for the first win but we just couldn’t close it out. 1-1 with a 97th minute equaliser. It’s frustrating, but we have to persevere and keep the faith under such a small budget for this season.

 Despite the bad start, what are your realistic expectations for the season? Is reaching the play-offs still a requirement for many fans?

 I think many supporters would be surprised at a play-off place right now. But who’s to say it’s impossible? But realistically, anything but relegation is what the supporters want right now. A good run after the first win will certainly boost morale and confidence, but in such a competitive league, where even the part-timers, like Nuneaton, can compete with the bigger professional clubs. It’s tough to predict any outcomes, especially so early on. But right now I’d settle for mid-table.

The last time the two clubs met the game ended 5-4 to Woking, did this highlight inconsistency in the squad last year and if so has changed over the summer?

Betsy takes control vs Town in Woking’s 5-4 victory

 Yes. That game came just after our play-off chances were over, Steve King had been fired and a whole squad were paying attention to their futures now there was little to play for. John Askey had the tough job of motivating the squad, a squad that had indeed been inconsistent throughout the season. A squad that could face up to the eventual FA Cup winners, but could go 4-0 down at half time at home to Gateshead. This effectively summed up last season. 

Going 5-0 down to Woking proved how little had been delivered, the 4 goals back there showed we were unafraid to admit defeat,unfortunately though, there were times last season where it was admitted before the full time whistle. Quite a few names on the back of the shirts have changed, but a similar style of play has been imposed under Askey, but right now as before it’s not delivering results, and as a result, a more troubling consistency has arrived.

 

What players will Woking have to watch out for on Saturday?

The experience of Danny Whitaker, a veteran of the Football League will probably provide trouble in the centre of play, and down the wing. Left back Danny Andrew has probably been our best, most consistent and determined player so far. Never afraid to show pace and trouble with crosses, and have a go himself from outside the box, an effort in our 2-1 defeat to Chester on Tuesday rattled the crossbar, and the Chester ‘keeper as well!

Finally, what is your score prediction?

I hate doing predictions, tempting fate. Because Macc need that win so much, and this is a good example of a game which we have to win to calm fears of a dreaded relegation scrap. Such is the position Woking are in the league, 18th, this is a game where Macclesfield should be favourite but with Woking having won away on Tuesday, The Cards are sure to be fired up. And Macclesfield’s poor form is sure to motivate for yet another away win.

Tough to call, but I’ll say a 2-1 Macclesfield win.

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!

Getting to know the opposition – Welling United

Jacob Greenwood

Thanks to a brilliant performance in Chester we now have our first three points on the board and we even scored a few goals!

Woking now return to Kingfield for the visit of newly promoted Welling United who recently took over as the new champions of the Conference South. We spoke to Mark Doig (@MarkDoigFC) to find out the latest at Park View Road.

Hi Mark,

First of all welcome to the Conference Premier. You’ve had somewhat of a baptism of fire playing Wrexham, Cambridge and Grimsby in your first three games. Despite the difficult start on paper, you’ve taken four points from those three games, you must be delighted?

It’s a promising start. After conceding a late winner at Wrexham we needed to get something out of the two home games, even if they were against full time clubs. The game against Cambridge was one of those rare games that I went home saying I enjoyed, even though Welling didn’t win (drew 2-2).

The Grimsby game was different but getting the first win was crucial and it was deserved.

After a very successful campaign last year, which saw you claim the Conference South title, are your realistic ambitions just to establish yourself in the league this season?

Probably, although a cup run to go with it would be good.

Do you look at how Woking and Dartford performed last year and take hope from that?

Not just those two. Any part time team who have established themselves in the Premier without splashing huge amounts of cash can give hope to others.

You’ve become Woking’s bogey side over the past few years including a victory at Kingfield in the FA Trophy last season, has Jamie Day got Garry Hill worked out?!

We lost at Kingfield two seasons ago so that would suggest Welling are not Woking’s bogey team. The trophy game last season and the 5-0 two years before that are the only times I remember us winning at Woking since we were last in the Conference.

A lot of Woking fans will be familiar with Loick Pires, how has he returned on his returned to Park View Road and who else should we be keeping an eye out for on Saturday?

I’m not sure that Loick Pires will start on Saturday. Welling’s success last season was built on a team ethos rather than star players however I’m looking forward to seeing how new signing Harry Beautyman fits in. He is the first player for whom Welling have paid a fee for a long time.

Pires will return to Kingfield tomorrow
Pires will return to Kingfield tomorrow

Last of all, what is your score prediction?

It’s a tough one to call. Until the league has started to take shape, I think I’ll back out of making any predictions.

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

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