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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

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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.

DSY
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

Hill Looks To Bolster Squad

 

 

By Jacob Greenwood

Woking manager Garry Hill has confirmed that he is still looking to sign players in the January transfer window to strengthen his playing squad.

The Cards boss told BBC Surrey after Saturday’s win over Maidenhead United that he was still in the market for a handful of players as Football League teams keep an eye on members of the Woking side. He told reporter Gary Smith:

“We are still light on bodies, I need to get three or four in. There’s one or two players being mentioned to league clubs, we will control that. The players are aware of that and they just get on with their jobs.”

Woking overcame The Magpies to progress to the third round of the competition but didn’t have it all their own way as the visitors took a first-half lead.

“To be honest I was quite pleased to come in at half-time only one down. They were certainly the better team in the first 45 minutes.”

Sole
Sole Strikes As Woking Win

However, The Cards hit back strongly with goals from Giuseppe Sole, Joe Quigley, Chris Arthur and a brace from  Keiran Murtagh to win out comfortable winners, impressing a relieved Hill.

“From the time we equalised until the final whistle we played some good football and scored some good goals.”

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

The full BBC Surrey interview can be heard at – 

 

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

Getting to know the opposition – Hereford United

By Jacob Greenwood

Woking travel to Edgar Street on Saturday to take on relegation-threatened Hereford United.

The Cards extended their impressive league to 5 wins in 5 games when goals from Scott Rendell and Jack Marriott saw Woking come from behind to beat Forest Green Rovers on Tuesday evening. Garry Hill’s side have a good record against Hereford this season winning the reverse league fixture and their FA Trophy tie 3-0.

Rendell fires home as Woking knock The Bulls out of the FA Trophy.
Rendell fires home as Woking knock The Bulls out of the FA Trophy.

As Woking have moved away from the relegation zone in recent weeks Saturday’s hosts have gone in the opposite direction and now sit one point from the drop zone.

We talked to Bulls fan Gemma Eckley  to find out what has been happening at Hereford and how the fans are chipping in to help save the club.

The club is fighting a battle on & off the pitch – Hereford are 1 point off of the relegation zone and have a financial deadline to meet by the end of this week. Did fans know that this could be the outcome this season or did supporters start the season aiming for promotion?

I think the supporters, well some of them knew that this season wouldn’t be easy. Both on and off the field but I don’t think too many expected this much of a struggle. We knew financially we didn’t have the budget of many other clubs in this league to compete. A mid-table finish was really the achievement.

A lot of work is going on to raise money and save the club, can you tell us a bit about what has been happening behind the scenes? 

There has been a fair bit of activity happening in the last few weeks including a lot of support which has really gone beyond expectation. Last Saturday against Grimsby we saw our gate rise by over 1000. We have numerous bucket collections in supermarkets, high town and down here at the club. There has been various events at the function room at the club, which includes gigs and quizzes. On Saturday there will be around 10 different football shirts to auction off. The main bit if activity and could be massive in terms of finance is this Sunday. Omid Djalili the comedian has offered to do a benefit show. The first one completely sold out so a second one has now been put on (which is very close to selling out)
This whole situation has really brought out the best in everyone, even those from other clubs as without there donations, we may as well given up before we even began.

Payne scored the pick of the goals the last time the two sides met
Payne scored the pick of the goals the last time the two sides met

Your last league win came on January 25th, do you think, even if you can raise enough money, Hereford will be relegated on form alone, or is the team still capable of picking up points?

I think we are capable of picking up points, but I think we will be relying heavily on other teams around us and their results. Even if we are relegated, the survival of the club off the pitch really is the main aim. If we survive both on and off the pitch, then that really is a bonus.

Michael Rankine is your top scorer so far this season, who else will Woking have to look out for on Saturday?

It’s hard to pick out individuals, but Frankie Artus or Daniel Leadbitter. Leadbitter provides pace down the wing and Artus provides attack in midfield.
In reality we really haven’t got the strongest team and injuries have played a huge part in this season.

Finally, what is your score prediction?

Score prediction, I’ll go for a very optimistic 1-1.

Fans can donate to help save Hereford United by following this link – http://www.idsports.net/shop/Hereford-United-Club-Donation/

You can find Gemma on twitter at – @GemmaLou12

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

A view from the stands – Woking 2 Wrexham 1

Everything Woking FC’s Jacob Greenwood talks to Woking fan and reporter Jacob Hutchinson following The Cards’ 2-1 victory vs Wrexham.

Rendell puts Woking ahead at Kingfield.
Rendell puts Woking ahead at Kingfield.

 

 

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

Getting to know the opposition – Wrexham

Woking will be looking to extend their impressive form when Wrexham travel to Kingfield on Saturday.

The Cards come into the game well rested after a 10-day break and Garry Hill’s side will be looking to compete a perfect March in which he has seen his side win four out of four games.

Hill admitted he is hoping for a bumper crowd at Kingfield on Saturday following an impressive win at Luton Town last time out in the league.

We talked to Ryan Denoven to get an idea of what to expect from the Welsh side this weekend.

Betsy fires a shot at goal as Woking lose 2-0 at Wrexham in October
Betsy fires a shot at goal as Woking lose 2-0 at Wrexham in October

When we talked to you at the start of the season you were confident that Wrexham would eventually start climbing the table. This hasn’t happened and recently Andy Morrell left the club, what has gone so wrong this season? 

Unfortunately our form never picked up and the whole season has been a bit stop-start, the players just didn’t seem to be bothered playing under Morrell anymore the effort wasn’t there. We aren’t a team that should be in 17th, I mean this team is very similar to last season’s playoff final team but with bad mistakes, lots of suspensions, injuries and bad form we have just been a shadow of the team we were last season. Morrell will always be a legend at this football club though and we all thanked him for his efforts.

Kevin Wilkin has recently joined the club and drew his first game in charge, was there a noticeable difference in Wrexham’s performance and what do you think he can bring to the club?

Well, firstly I would just like to say how pleased I am that we have managed to get such a good young manager who had done incredibly well at Nuneaton on a tight budget. To answer you question, he only had one training session with the players before the game so obviously the players are still learning his methods and his tactics. We played okay although Salisbury probably were the better side as Kevin Wilkin admitted after the game. I think Kev will be the right man for us in the long run.

Wrexham are on the same points total as Woking going into today’s game (51) which should see us both avoid relegation. Were Wrexham fans ever realistically worried about being relegated this season?

We all expected to be much higher up the league than this, the majority of fans thought we might scrape into the playoffs or just miss out but I doubt anybody would have said we would be 17th with 7 games left!

One game you will be focusing on is Chester away who having bragging rights over you from earlier in the season. How much does this derby mean to Wrexham fans?

It means a lot as it’s both a local derby and a cross-border derby, it’s got to be one of the best derbies in the country easily. It also can get out of hand sometimes off the pitch with fighting and stuff which I don’t like to see. On the pitch it’s always a feisty hard-fought game, hopefully we will turn them over at their place now we have a new manager in place! 2-1 to us is my prediction.

What visiting player will Woking have to look out for on Saturday?

Mark Carrington is one of our best performers this season, he’s originally a midfielder but he has been transformed into a right back this season and it has paid off, he chips in with the odd goal and the odd assist and is usually solid at the back.

Finally, what is your score prediction?

I say a close game with nothing other than pride to play for, 1-0 Wrexham. Good luck for the game.

 

Questions by Jacob Greenwood @JGreenwood91

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

 

Come on you Cards!

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