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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.

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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

 

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Hill Wishes Cards ‘All The Best’ Following Departure

By Jacob Greenwood

Garry Hill has spoken for the first time since leaving his position at Woking last week and told reporters that there is no animosity from himself towards the club.

Hill spent over six years at Kingfield and during that time took The Cards from The National League South to The National League and reflected on recent developments prior to watching Dagenham & Redbridge face Forest Green Rovers. He told The National League’s social media team:

“I’ve had six and half wonderful years there and I wish the club all the best. There is a change going on which I think every club on and off the pitch needs at times. Hopefully it is for the right reasons for the players, supporters and volunteers.

“There is no animosity from myself and I wish them all the best.”

Hill has been replaced by Anthony Limbrick as new investors pursue a fresh start at Kingfield. Limbrick has worked with youth teams at both Southampton and West Ham as well as at an International level for England. Cards fans will get a chance to hear him speak at a fans forum on Wednesday which is being held at Kingfield.

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

 

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.

Tubbs Impressed With Woking Character After Fightback Earns A Point

By Jacob Greenwood

On-loan striker Matt Tubbs was pleased following a debut goal during Woking’s 3-3 draw with Eastleigh and believes The Cards have enough to get out of trouble.

Second half goals from Dealno Sam-Yorke and Luke Kandi saw the home side battle back from 3-1 down to draw against Ronnie Moore’s promotion chasing side. After the game Tubbs, an the ex-Spitfires player, told BBC Surrey it was a tough fixture but that Woking fought well to come back into it and take a point:

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Kandi Celebrates Earning Woking a Point

“I knew it wasn’t going to be easy but the lads dug in today and showed character. To be 3-1 down against a team who could win this league (and get a draw), the character was unbelievable.”

The 32-year-old kept Woking in the game when his glancing header made it 1-1 and despite being happy with a point, he believes Woking could have taken all three.

“If the game went on for ten more minutes I think we would have won. It is a good point and it will be an even bigger point if we can beat Bromley on Tuesday. The second half performance was great and if we can take that into Tuesday, get a result there, then we can go in to Sutton with confidence.”

Speaking on Woking’s chance on survival, Tubbs believes he has already seen enough from the team to suggest that they won’t be facing relegation this season.

“I saw it (that Woking have enough quality to move up the league) on my first day when we played Bournemouth U23s (in a friendly), it was a really good performance. I came away from that game thinking the league position was false, there are some really good players here and we showed that today.”

 

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

The BBC Surrey interview can be heard – here

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 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.

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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

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

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