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Getting To Know Hartlepool United

By Jacob Greenwood

Woking welcome Hartlepool United to Kingfield on Saturday as they look for their fourth win on the bounce.

Saturday’s game sees two form sides face off. The Cards came from behind to beat AFC Fylde last week with goals coming from Joe Ward and Jamie Philpott to put themselves top of the form table. Whereas Hartlepool, who had a tough start to the season, find themselves third in the form table following a 2-1 victory over Bromley.

Screen Shot 2017-09-29 at 08.28.31
Philpott’s Goal Against Fylde Makes It Three Wins In Three 

With the exception of Cheltenham and Bristol Rovers, teams relegated from League Two have struggled to bounce back to the The Football League. We spoke to Pools fan Kate Simons to find out more about how fans in the North East see the season so far and what their expectations are for their first season in Non-League’s top flight.

Nobody likes to be relegated, but for some clubs that have been in the bottom third of League Two for a few seasons, dropping down and rebuilding can turn into a positive project. How do most Hartlepool fans see life after League Two? 

Although it was heart-breaking to get relegated, I think most fans are optimistic for life after league two and everything that goes with life in the National League – new teams to play, visiting new grounds etc. I think lots of fans just want to see the team playing with passion and with fight again.

How have you found the standard of National League football since dropping down from The Football League?

It’s different, that’s one thing for sure! I think it’s a faster paced and a lot more physical compared to The Football League.

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Home Comforts – Five Wins In Six Games At Kingfield For Woking So Far This Season

After a tricky start to life in non-league football, Hartlepool have found some form, winning four of the last six. Has this just been a case of adapting to the league?

I think it has been a case of adapting to the National league, but also adapting to the different style of play in this league. A lot of new faces were brought into the club too, so it takes time for people to gel.

Hartlepool manager Craig Harrison has been very successful in Welsh football, what do you think he can bring to non-league’s top tier and to United? 

Craig was a very successful manager at TNS and I think he can bring that to Pools, he knows what it takes to be successful and he can instil that into the team. Being from the North East, Craig knows just how much this team means to the fans! He seems a vocal, hardworking and passionate manager!

A lot of teams now qualify for the National League play-offs, will getting one of these spots be a minimum expectation for the majority of fans? 

I think the fans just want to see the team play well, after spending the last couple of seasons fighting relegation and then eventually being relegated, we just want to see the team playing with passion. Of course, being promoted/qualifying for the play-off’s is on everyone’s mind but people are realistic and know just how hard it is to get out of this league!

Who will be the danger men that Woking have to look out for on Saturday? 

Jonathan Franks, he’s just re-signed for the club and he can’t seem to stop scoring!

Michael Woods, he plays with his heart on his sleeve and he’s not scared to put a challenge in!

Finally, what is your score prediction?

Think it’ll be a tough game, but I’m saying a 2-1 to Pools. Up the Pools!! 

Photos from David Holmes. For a full set visit wokingfc.co.uk

 

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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 – Gateshead

Jacob Greenwood

After a disappointing Bank Holiday weekend Woking return to Kingfield to face Gateshead as the Cards go in search of their first home win of the season. As for our visitors, Gateshead are yet to win this season and have already seen a managerial departure. We talked to Andrew McInnes (@AMcInnes1991) before his side embark on their 600-mile roundtrip.

Hi Andrew, after a turbulent end to last season seeing you play your home games at a variety of different grounds and only avoiding relegation by a point, it must be nice to have started with a clean slate this season?

Yes very nice. It wasn’t very good to be a heed fan last season. Having to play a ‘home’ game as far as Boston. Thankfully the pitch is all sorted now and looking better than ever thanks to some skilful groundsmen that we have. Another big factor has been our superb chairman who without him, we may have not been a football club this season. His passion for the club is second to none!

Gavin McCallum scores in Woking's 2-1 win over Gateshead last season.
Gavin McCallum scores in Woking’s 2-1 win over Gateshead last season.

You’ve only picked up one point so far this season but have had some reasonably tough games, how have Gateshead fans reacted to the first few weeks of the new campaign?

We have had some tough games. Playing Kidderminster, who I am tipping to win the league, was always going to be a hard first game for us. From my point of view, our team still haven’t gelled yet. The players are still learning each other’s game but it won’t be long till it all clicks and we can crack on.

Your ex-manager, Anth Smith, resigned after your 2-1 defeat to Barent, did that come as a shock and who are you hoping will replace him?

It was a shock. You don’t expect your manager to throw in the towel after 7 days. But good luck to him. He was obviously wanting to go for it this season after the signings he made but it was not to be. Personally, I hope to see Nolberto Solano come in. He has experience of turning a team around after a stint managing a struggling team in Peru. He is the type of person who would get us playing proper football and could attract players to the club. He has always said he wants to manage in the north east too so you never know.

What are your expectations for the new season? Will surviving be enough to satisfy the fans or are many people setting their sights on a top half finish?

After signing the likes of Richard Brodie, Adam Boyes and Josh Walker to name a few, I don’t see why we can’t finish in a play-off position. The quality in the squad is there to go for it.

Who have been your stand out players so far and who will Woking have to look out for on Saturday?

Richard Brodie has been a threat in front of goal in all the games so far this season. Also Adam Boyes has yet to break his duck so it’s only a matter of time before he gets a goal.

Finally, what is your score prediction?

I’ll say a scrappy 2-2. If not that, a 7-6 win for us might be entertaining! You never know in football! HEED ARMY!

Come on you Cards!

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

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