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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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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 the opposition – Macclesfield Town

By Jacob Greenwood

Woking welcome Macclesfield Town to Kingfield on Saturday as they try and put a poor midweek result behind them.

Garry Hill was left disappointed as Woking stumbled to a 5-1 defeat to Dartford at Princes Park on Tuesday. The evening had started well for The Cards with Scott Rendell putting the visitors ahead but an immediate equaliser and a red card for Joe Jones put Woking on the back foot going into the break. Second half goals from Alex Wall, Max Cornhill and Lee Noble condemned Woking to a disappointing defeat.

Woking will be looking to get back on track as they take on Macclesfield on Saturday. The Silkmen travel to Kingfield in good form and since disappointing results earlier in the season find themselves mid-table with an eye on the race for the play offs.

We talked to Macclesfield fan Ian Stewart prior to the game:

When the two teams met earlier in the season it looked like they were both fighting to stay in the league, but Macclesfield have been on a great run since and are mid-table. What has changed at the club to bring this positive effect?

I’d say it was just a slow start to the season that put Macclesfield in serious threat of relegation. Virtually all of the squad had changed from last season. But early on, Macclesfield were having games

where they should’ve won, but couldn’t quite finish it, letting the opposition back in.

Funnily enough, it was against Woking where we got our first win, but even then it could have slipped away. 3-0 up with 10 minutes to go, and Woking got two back. There was relief around the home

support at the Moss Rose when the final whistle blew.

Sole fires home against away defeat at Macclesfield
Sole fires home against away defeat at Macclesfield

John Askey and Efe Sodje have had to work on such a tight budget, but they’ve brought in players who have worked together well on, and indeed, off the pitch. A few players have attracted the attentions

of clubs higher up, in the Football League, but right now the squad is well focused and hoping to carry on the run that has seen us close to the play-offs. We hadn’t lost at home since October, before

Luton came along the Tuesday before last. And that was a tough encounter for the league leaders, in which many felt Macclesfield were unfortunate to lose.

The goals of Connor Jennings certainly helped us climb away from danger. Jennings may have gone back to Scunthorpe now, but Chris Holroyd and Scott Boden are finding the net at the right time,

and new loan signings Waide Fairhurst and Akpo Sodje represent a strong presence up front, and competition for the starting line-up as well.

You find yourselves only 9 points off of the play-offs with games in hand. Is that a realistic target this season?

Yes. Of course it is very tight up there, and with Macclesfield 11th, it’s going to be a hectic battle to get one of those four places. The recent weather means it’s going to be a question of stamina as

the season draws to a close. With Conference matches happening twice in nearly every week up until April.

Also, with play-off challengers facing each other, a lot of points will be dropped. I certainly believe Macclesfield can take advantage of this, and when it comes to facing the challengers themselves,

home or away, we can put up a determined effort to take maximum points away from their play-off bid.

You have had an impressive FA Cup run this season beating Swindon and taking Sheffield Wednesday to a replay. Did this run bring a lot of fans back to the club and improve confidence within the squad?

Before Swindon and Sheffield Wednesday, the squad was certainly confident, being on a good run. But the manner in which they beat Swindon surprised and delighted many and sure boosted their confidence

to play like that in the Conference, there have been games where it hasn’t been the case, but after the slow start to the season, it’s a delight that defeats and poor performances are happening less.

Hopefully, many fans are coming back to watch the Silkmen, following the Cup run, and indeed the recent impressive form in the league. And especially at home. The financial woes have been well

publicised, and it’s all very well having a good FA Cup run, but no one relies solely on the money that brings in.

Revenue from the league games is key. Some Conference sides struggling financially, and the weather and postponements sure haven’t helped their plight, Hereford United are the most alarming

case in the league right now regarding their financial future. And for Macclesfield, there’s a lot more to be done to ease our financial troubles, the confidence and determined attitude of the squad under

Askey has shown people Macclesfield are worth watching. And worth watching for every game.

Scott Boden has 12 league goals so far this season. Will he be a player that Woking will have to look out for on Saturday?

The midfield, consisting of captain Paul Turnbull and the veteran Danny Whitaker will pose a threat in getting the ball to Boden. As well as threat from down the wing from Jack Mackreth. We’re full

of good pace, and with a positive passing style of play, I feel that the strike force, whoever it is will be dangerous going forward. Boden and Chris Holroyd will have to be watched if Askey selects them,

and so too will the wing.

Lastly, what is your score prediction?

Tempting fate again, I know Woking are a tough side, and over the last few weeks have had mixed results. Impressive win over Gateshead, followed by the 5-1 defeat to an improving Dartford squad.

It’s been mixed at Macclesfield too, but a lot more positive and in such a tight league, neither will want to drop any points. Away from home, Macc need to win to boost our play-off hopes.

My head says a draw, 2-2. My heart says otherwise… I’ll keep the result a secret until afterwards.

Questions by Jacob Greenwood @JGreenwood91

Answers by @ianthenoodle

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

Getting to know the opposition – Grimsby Town

Saturday’s game at home to Grimsby Town marks the start of a new month for Garry Hill’s side after a torrid October.

The Cards only scored one league goal in a month which saw them go without a win (excl Surrey Senior Cup) and go crashing out of the FA Cup at the first attempt to Luton Town.

November promises to be another tough month for the Cards and they start with a big game against Grimsby Town who have got off to an impressive start this season and sit in fifth place.

Woking draw a blank at home to Barnet in October.
Woking draw a blank at home to Barnet in October.

We talked to Mariners fan @TooGoodToGoDown ahead of their trip to Kingfield.

You had a very successful campaign last season but just fell at the final hurdle losing in the play-off semi-final and FA Trophy final. Did fans see this as a success and something to build on?

Absolutely. Historically Grimsby Town have spent more time in the Championship and League 1 than any other division. There’s an expectation – whether realistic or not – that we should be competing at the top end of the Conference. Last year saw us improve on the previous two and although we eventually ran out of steam and lost to Newport in the Play Offs, we looked like a team that would compete at the right end of the table. We’ve made some key additions, got a decent squad of players and it’s up to the players on the pitch to build on last year’s experiences.

 Being one of the ‘bigger’ clubs in the league and an impressive show last year, has your target been automatic promotion from the start?

Definitely. We have one of the biggest budgets and, in my opinion, some of the league’s best players. Anything other than promotion – whether automatic or through the Play Offs – would be a failure this year.

You took six points off of Woking last year scoring six and only conceding one. Has your squad changed much over the summer and who will we have to look out for?

Kevin Betsy in Woking's defeat to Grimsby last season
Kevin Betsy in Woking’s defeat to Grimsby last season

There have been some key additions, particularly in midfield. Scott Kerr and Paddy McLaughlin signed from York although only Kerr is likely to play. Scott Neilson is a fantastic winger who is likely to play on the left, fellow new signing Alex Rodman on the right. Ross Hannah has scored in his last four games and is probably our ‘danger man’. Liam Hearn, who scored 29 goals in 2011/12 before missing last season with a serious ankle injury, will likely start on the bench but is a seriously class act at this level.

Woking fans will be familiar with Aswad Thomas after his spell with the club, what kind of impact has he made at the club?

Aswad started like a train and was brilliant for the first half of last season, but ran out of steam and looked a shadow of the player. He started this season in a similar vein and things came to a head when he was sent off for violent conduct against Nuneaton. He missed a month’s worth of football and he’s come back in and been a completely different player. He’s attacked and pushed forward and defended well too. If he plays like that he’s a huge asset and will give Woking’s right hand side a tough afternoon.

 Finally, what is your score prediction?

We’re a little inconsistent and have a massive FA Cup game against Scunthorpe next Saturday which I suspect may be a distraction. Head says 1-0 to Woking, heart says 1-1 draw.

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 – FC Halifax Town

Woking face FC Halifax Town on Saturday after picking up a point against a strong Barnet team in midweek.

After defensive errors were costing The Cards vital points early on in the season, Garry Hill will be encouraged that Woking have only conceded one goal in their last three games. Saturday will be another tough test though with Halifax chasing their first victory on the road this season.

Town come into the game off the back of a 2-2 draw with Nuneaton Town and previous to that a heart-breaking 4-3 defeat to Luton Town. We talked to @BradleyDobson to find out about how The Shaymen have started this campaign.

Woking draw a blank vs Barnet on Tuesday evening
Woking draw a blank vs Barnet on Tuesday evening

Halifax have had a stable start to the season and a very impressive home record. Did the fans expect last season’s momentum to carry on into this season or has it taken supporters by surprise a little?

If you were to ask me at the start of the season where we’d like to of finished in the table, I’d of gladly took one place outside of the relegation zone. I think the real aim of this season is quite simply to just stay in this league, anything else is a bonus! The momentum from last season was prolific, with drawing with Guiseley at home in the first play-off leg of the BSN season, I had my doubts but on we went to Brackley and what a day that was, speechless comes to mind. The season so far? I don’t think any of us expected to do as well as we are. The main aim for us is to keep our home record a pristine as possible, that way we will stay in the Premier this season.

As I mentioned you have started well at home this season, why do think that is?

 We’ve had a great start to the season when it comes to our home record you’re right there! I think once the players know they have the whole ‘fortress’ thing going on, every home game becomes a bigger battle. It’s just a shame it hasn’t gone that way on our travels. In most seasons from the NPL upwards we’ve always had a good home record, fingers crossed we maintain it throughout the season.

Is the main aim for this season still survival or will fans be looking at nicking a play-off spot?

As I briefly said in the first question, the main aim is to stay up! I’d be more than happy with that, as I’m sure all Town supporters would be as well as he club. The way we’ve kicked off this season, who is to say we won’t nick a play-off place? Let’s get Christmas out of the way and then ask me again.

Who will Woking fans have to look out for on Saturday?

Dan Gardner in attack and Marc Roberts in defence. I won’t say anymore, can’t be giving to much information away. After all, we need an away win at some point!

Finally, what is you score prediction?

 0-3 to Halifax, I think the away win as been coming, Saturday I feel is the day.

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!

Audio interview part 2 – Woking fan Will Stanning looks ahead to the new season

I caught up with Woking fan, Will Stanning @WillStan , before the season’s opening fixture to get his pre-season thoughts.

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