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Give A Little Respect To…..The Cards

By Jacob Greenwood

Whether your jam is more Aretha Franklin or Erasure, this week we want to talk about respect.

Fives games into the new season and other than the early loss to Aldershot Town, Woking haven’t put a foot wrong. Dowse admitted that The Cards were somewhat of a ‘surprise package’ after wins against Harrogate Town, Chestfield and Fylde, who were all strongly tipped for promotion. But are Woking getting the respect they deserve?

It’s not hard to see why managers and teams are being caught out by Woking when you listen to their post-match interviews – they just can’t comprehend losing to a newly promoted, part-time outfit.

Harrogate Town boss Simon Weaver told their local paper, The Harrogate Advertiser, after their 1-0 loss:

“We absolutely annihilated Woking in terms of football and chances created”

Centre back Connor Hall added:

“The whole team know that we had chances in the first half and chances in the second half. We should have won by quite a few”

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Donnellan Shows Harrogate How To Score

I’m not going to pretend Woking didn’t ride their luck in that game. Harrogate did miss two chances that seemed harder to miss than score. But Woking had chances too, most notably when Meite couldn’t get enough on Johnson’s cross, otherwise it was 2-0. Clearly this was all forgotten on their coach ride back to Yorkshire. The sides certainly weren’t too far apart on the day and to say Woking were annihilated is a case of sour grapes for me.

Moving on to Woking’s 4-1 win at Mill Farm. AFC Fylde boss David Challinor spoke to the club’s official site after the game and looked just as bemused by the fact Woking had rocked up and taken the p*ss. Somewhere between calling his team’s performance terrible, repeating that he would be looking to bring in new players and blaming the ref (he claimed an assessor was at the game and agreed with him), it didn’t seem he made much of Woking. The only bit of praise they got was: “Credit to Woking, they did a job”. I’m not expecting managers to heap praise on us, but maybe one of the reasons they lost is because Dowse & co have put a good team together that can more than match teams in this league, and we were the better side over 90 minutes?

The last week has been an incredible one for The Cards – but will it be enough to earn the respect of the league and make people sit up and take notice? It’s hard to say, and whilst most Woking fans won’t get carried away and will see it as nine vital points in our bid for survival this season, you’d hope some of the established names might be more humble when playing Woking. Underestimate us at your peril!

Images by David Holmes. Find a full set at wokingfc.co.uk

Rollercoaster First Week For The Cards Ends On Harrogate High

By Jacob Greenwood

Football is officially back, and it hasn’t been a quiet week for The Cards. In fact, the highs and lows of football were summed up in the last week.

Curtain Raiser In East London

Dagenham away has become somewhat of an important stage, and a happy hunting ground, for Woking in the last few years – and so it should be if we are paying £21 to get in! Between staying up on the last day in 2016/17 season, finding (what we thought was) a new lease of life in Jason Godliffe’s first game as caretaker manager and now an opening day showdown – it’s always memorable. It was no different this year, as everything went right for The Cards, from the new 5-3-2 formation to Joe Quigley missing a shot that would have been easier to score, it was a brilliant way to lay down a marker and send out a message to the rest of the league.

It’s always a buzz when unfancied, part-time Woking are spoiling the big boys’ party and being one of the hundreds of Cards fans singing at full-time as the squad celebrated, I can safely say that’s why we stick with the club through thick and thin.

Most Notably:
-Good creativity for Gerring’s new song – “Stands at 6ft3, f**ing hates Torquay”
-Moussa Diarra/Manny Parry partnership was outstanding and the new song to the tune you Kolo/Yaya Toure wasn’t bad
-Perfect away performance, utilising our strength and height
-If you charge away fans £21, you don’t deserve home wins

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Poku Celebrates Opening Day Success 

Death, Taxes and Losing To Aldershot

It was of course only fitting, that in true football style, we came crashing back down to earth only a few days later. Although there are plenty of forum posts about how and why we lost, I can put it down to three things – the 5-3-2 being anticipated and countered well by The Shots, our hit-and-hope approach and a voodoo curse being placed on the club when we play our neighbours. I’m starting to think the third reason is the most valid!

However, a crowd of just under 4,000, the home kit not being as awful as everyone made out and knowing if we took our chances we might have been okay, gave fans a few things to cling on to that night. Still, truding out of Kingfield as the opposition wildly celebrate a derby win will always be a low-blow.

Most Notably:
-The home kit was ready in time and was surprisingly nice
-The Shots fans didn’t break the barrier
-Jack Cook as a RWB outlet, not the best tactic

Bouncing Back To Blow Harrogate Away

Okay, we didn’t blow Harrogate away, but there was an opportunity to use a weather-related pun. However, after a shaky first 15 minutes, what a performance! Harrogate reached the play-offs last season and after winning 3-0 away at Barrow on Tuesday, it was clear this was going to be a tough game. Tactically I think Dowse got this one spot on and once we got into the game, we more than matched Harrogate. They squandered good opportunities and we got a bit of luck in the winner and keeping them out, but don’t underestimate some great performances across the park. Poku and Meite took their chances as they both got started their first games of the season and Johnson’s pace and skill look like they will be an important outlet this season.

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If you don’t shoot…

A battling performance was exactly what Woking needed after Tuesday’s defeat and if our luck was out against The Shots, it was in yesterday and we made it count.

Most Notably
– Donnellan proved if you don’t shoot, you don’t score
-Johnson gave their left back the run-around and will be more than a handful this season
-We’ll be no pushovers this season
-Jon Stead is still playing at 38

A week is a long time in football, and the first of the season was a rollercoaster ride, but there’s a long way to go yet, so hold on tight!

Images by David Holmes and can be viewed at wokingfc.co.uk

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.

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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

 

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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