blue square premier

Hereford 2
Woking 1

GARRY HILL is suffering from an awful case of déjà vu as his trouble on the road shows no sign of slowing.

Cards fell to a fourth successive league defeat for the first time since February 2009 and are yet to collect a single point on their travels this season.

An early strike from Ashley Sammons and Sam Clucas’ curling effort just before half-time gave Hereford an unassailable lead at Edgar Street.

Kevin Betsy bundled home an 81st-minute consolation but it was the recurring manner in which Woking are shipping goals that is of most concern to their manager.

Woking have now conceded six goals in the final five minutes of either half in their first seven games.

CONSOLATION - Kevin Betsy scores Woking's goal

CONSOLATION – Kevin Betsy scores Woking’s goal

A frustrated Hill said: “We are giving a good account of ourselves but things aren’t quite going our way at the moment.

“We found ourselves 1-0 down early on – same old story. We gave a present away on the stroke of half-time – same old story.

“But we showed a lot of character for a side that is thin on numbers, we dug in deep and I’m disappointed with the end result.

“I thought we were worth half a loaf and deserved a point from the game.”

Cards were punished for a sloppy start when Sammons blasted Hereford into a 5th-minute lead.

Sean Canham showed great desire to hunt down Joe McNerney as he was about to clear.

The striker stole possession in Woking’s box, shifted on to his right and launched an effort at goal.

I couldn’t have had any player available tonight who could have given more commitment and more effort than what the lads showed in these second-half

The danger was only half cleared and Sammons, who pulled all the strings in a busy first 45, rifled a 25-yard effort into the bottom left corner.

Woking’s first real chance of the half arrived in the form of Jack Parkinson in the 30th minute.

Gavin McCallum’s whipped corner fell to the former Welling man inside the six-yard box and only a combination of keeper Dan Hanford, Stefan Stam and Harry Pell was able to stop the ball going over the line.

Two minutes later Loick Pires took a great opportunity off the toes of Lee Sawyer who was storming in to smash home Gavin McCallum’s low cross.

But as Woking’s presence in the game grew so did the influence of Sammons.

The midfielder’s disguised pass sent Ryan Bowman clean through but the striker failed to apply the finish to a wonderful move and clipped wide from just inside the area.

But, just as in previous away fixtures with Wrexham and Mansfield, Woking surrendered the vital second goal right on the verge of half-time.

Mike Cestor was the guilty party this week, dwelling on the ball in his own 18-yard box and inviting Clucas to steal possession.

The winger’s curling finish into the top corner was sublime, but Cestor’s criminal defending leaves Woking with it all to do in Saturday’s now must-win meeting with Nuneaton.

But despite being shorn of key personnel and with injuries taking their toll, Hill hinted that he will not be dipping into the loan market just yet.

The manager added:  “Where we are sitting at the moment is a little frustrating but I still believe that we’ll get to the 50 points we need and that we’ll be a conference club next year.

“We’re thin on bodies which is no secret but I couldn’t have had any player available tonight who could have given more commitment and more effort than what the lads showed in these second-half.”

On the hour Hill threw McNerney up front in an attempt to give Woking a presence in the final third.

Sawyer’s one-two with Betsy resulted in an effort that was tipped just wide by Hanford.

But the Bulls always looked a rampaging threat on the break and Pell could have extended their lead, only to steer a low cross into the side netting with Aaron Howe rooted.

McCallum stung the hands of Hanford and with nine minutes to play Woking dragged themselves back into contention from a corner.

McNerney’s header was well saved by Hanford, but the keeper could only parry the ball into the path of Betsy who bundled home from a yard out.

McCallum’s deflected effort forced a smart stop from the keeper as the game moved into the final minutes.

But it was Hereford who came closest to netting the fourth goal of game when substitute Tom Nichols struck the outside of the post.

CLOSE - Gavin McCallum hit the bar

CLOSE – Gavin McCallum hit the post

Mansfield 3
Woking 1

WOKING had no answer to non-league’s Rory Delap as the Stags left the Cards high and dry at Field Mill.

Deadline-day signing Exodus Geohaghon and his prolific long throws caused the damage as goals from Louis Briscoe and Matt Rhead gave Mansfield a two-goal cushion at the break.

Woking hit back six minutes from time through Joe McNerney to set up a grandstand finish.

But substitutes Nick Wright and Jake Speight combined in time added on to seal the points and consign Garry Hill to a third straight defeat.

And the manager admits Mansfield’s timely acquisition of Geohaghon had a huge bearing on the course of this goalfest.

Hill said: “We were very unlucky not to get a share of the spoils – the scoreline has flattered them.

“I think apart from the long throw, which acted as a great weapon for them, we bossed the game.

“It’s a throw which everyone has to deal with so I won’t make excuses but if he had signed a day later it might have been handy.

“We go away disappointed with the result but not with the performance, we were upbeat and very creative.

“What’s important now is to get out of this rut, if we get in a bit of a rut confidence can get low but that wasn’t the case against Mansfield.

“It doesn’t help us but anybody who watched the game will say we were unlucky, with the chances we created, not to get a point.

“We aren’t getting that little bit of luck at the minute and everything seems to be going against us but I’m sure in time it will start to go our way.”

Cards were by no means outplayed by their hotly-favoured hosts but what Woking lacked in the final third Mansfield possessed in abundance.

A self-assured conviction in front of goal served the Stags well and they took the lead in the 10th minute.

Woking failed to deal with Geohaghon’s laser-guided missile of a throw and Briscoe was allowed to drill a low shot past Aaron Howe from inside the area.

Cards were neat and tidy in position and, after being handed a place in the starting line-up, Gavin McCallum rewarded his manager’s faith with a series of penetrating runs.

But Woking were blunt in the final third and rarely threatened Alan Marriott in the Mansfield goal.

Luke Jones blazed over from inside the six-yard box as Geohaghon’s bullet throws continued to cause the visitors problems.

After setting up the opener Geohaghon almost got himself on the score sheet with a powerful left-foot volley that was cleared off the line by Kevin Betsy.

McNerney’s curling free-kick and McCallum’s 35-yard effort drew saves from Marriott, but it was Mansfield who made the most of their chances, doubling their lead with the final kick of the half.

Cards looked to be springing a counter attack when McCallum lost possession to Colin Daniel deep inside his own half.

The defender found Matt Green whose slide rule pass tripped the Woking offside trap releasing Rhead to coolly prod home a second.

Reflecting on what proved to be a huge moment in an otherwise even contest, Hill admitted his players need to cut out the mistakes in an unforgiving division.

He said: “We got punished when it looked like we were on the breakaway.

“We had players breaking out of the box but we gave the ball away cheaply, they slipped the ball in behind us and we got punished.

“That’s the difference at this level, a bad pass can be very costly whereas in the Conference South, we might have been able to get away with it.

“I thought in the second-half we bossed it but it wasn’t meant to be.”

McCallum came close to making amends for his earlier error when he hit the inside of the post – only the faintest of touches from Marriott denied the winger.

Howe spread himself brilliantly to keep out Briscoe after the forward had bundled through a cluster of Woking players.

Marriott got a strong hand to Jack Parkinson’s swerving free-kick but watched thankfully as Brett Williams sent the rebound into the side netting.

Cards dragged themselves to within one goal of a dramatic turnaround when Lee Sawyer’s scooped pass was converted from a narrow angle by McNerney.

But with Woking pressing for an equaliser Mansfield were able to break and secure the points through Speight’s powerful shot.

FOCUS - Loick Pires is determined to build on his latest performance

FOCUS – Loick Pires is determined to build on his latest performance

LOICK PIRES is keeping his feet firmly on the ground after running Barrow ragged on Saturday.

Cards’ level-headed hit-man turned in the performance of the season as Woking crushed the Cumbrian’s 3-1 at Kingfield.

Pires drilled home a decisive third in 79th-minute as Garry Hill’s men battled back from a goal down to make it six points from a possible nine this season.

And despite rave reviews from his manager and fans alike, Pires refused to get caught up in the hype, instead focusing only on Saturday’s game with Forest Green Rovers and the chance of another three points.

If the manager believes in a player then they are already halfway there

After netting his first competitive goal for the Cards, the forward said: “It’s always good to get off the mark as I striker – scoring goals is what we are bought to do and I felt good against Barrow.

“It was a massive relief on my part but now I can look forward to the next game and try to build on that.

“It was always going to be a battle with the heat but I finally showed what I can really do.

“In the first two games I was a bit quiet by my own standards but things started happening for me on Saturday and I was pleased to get the three points.

“As a young player I’m looking for consistency and to try and improve in every game.

“I know what football is like – there are games when we all look good, but then there are some days when that might not happen.

“The minimum you’ll get is hard work and determination from me and my team-mates.”

His bullish performance, coupled with a result that lifts Woking up to seventh in the table, had Hill swooning come full-time.

In his post-match interview the Kingfield boss backed Pires to bag a minimum of 15 league goals this term, a prediction that did not faze the striker.

Pires said: “If the manager believes in a player then they are already halfway there.

“I know what I can do, the manager knows what I can do and it’s up to me to play my part in the team.

“If I get 10, 15, 20 goals then great but I’m not putting too much pressure on myself.

“My main focus is to contribute to the team in order for us to get where we want to be.”

Pires revealed the Woking dressing room was oozing with confidence after a superb start to the season and that there was no chance the Cards would settle for just a point in their next fixture.

He added: “We go into every game wanting to win, we are an ambitious team and an ambitious football club.

“There isn’t a team in this league that we’ll sit back against and try to consolidate for a draw.

“Once it’s eleven vs. eleven we know we can beat anyone on our day.

“I think you can see with the signings the gaffer has made that although we want to be solid defensively, we want to show what we can do in attack.

“I think that was reflected particularly in the second-half against Barrow.”

DELIGHTED  - Brett Johnson is looking forward to a successful future with Woking

DELIGHTED – Brett Johnson is looking forward to a successful future with Woking

BRETT JOHNSON wasted little time talking up his new club after he become Garry Hill’s third signing of the summer.

The former AFC Wimbledon and Brentford defender signed a pre-contract agreement with the Cards on Friday, and will join the champions on August 1.

The 26-year-old can play either at a centre-half or left full-back and offers Hill and assistant Steve Thompson a wealth of Blue Square Premier experience.

He made 77 appearances for AFC in a four year spell and helped the club to a dramatic play-off final win in 2011 securing Terry Brown’s side a place in the Football League.

There’s no point staying in the same place and becoming stagnant

Johnson played 45 minutes in Woking’s first pre-season game of the summer which ended in a disappointing 2-0 defeat to Combined Counties Premier Division outfit Windsor.

But he remains adamant the Cards are moving in the right direction.

He said: “I know Garry Hill and I know what he has done previously for non-league clubs.

“He’s got a great history on that front with winning promotion and I always want to be part of squad that is progressing – there’s no point staying in the same place and becoming stagnant.

“I wanted to join a club that was looking to progress and Woking have a good platform to build from coming off the back of a title-winning season in the Blue Square South.

“The majority of the boys here have been kept on and there is a good feeling around the place, I’m looking to progress with Woking.

“After I spoke to Garry the decision became very simple. Other clubs made offers but I’ve played against Woking before and I’ve always enjoyed playing at Kingfield so I was pleased to take on this new challenge.”

Johnson is also looking forward to a reunion with a handful of former team-mates now scattered across the Blue Square Premier.

He insists the opportunity to get one over on old friends will help drive him toward success in the coming season.

“There are a few ex-Wimbledon players in the league so I’m looking out for the games with Grimsby, Cambridge, Newport and Macclesfield.

“There will be quite a few familiar faces in those fixtures so I’ll have to make sure we win those.”

JOKER OF THE PACK - Adam Doyle predicts a rough ride when he reports back for pre-season training

JOKER OF THE PACK – Adam Doyle predicts a rough ride when he reports back for pre-season training

ADAM DOYLE is dreading the start of pre-season training.

Kingfield’s resident joker was one of the first to pen a new deal with the champions back in May, but has cast major doubts over his own fitness after a month of indulgence away from football.

The centre-back said: “I’m not looking forward to going back – I love having Saturdays off.

“I wouldn’t exactly say I’ve been keeping myself trim over the summer, I’m a bit like Ricky Hatton between fights.”

Doyle was at the heart of Woking’s double-winning campaign last season and after convincing Garry Hill of his commitment to the Cards, was delighted to put pen to paper on a new contract.

But he added: “I just hope our first game isn’t Barrow away. It’s always exciting to see the fixture list when it’s announced so I can start planning my days off work and get my holiday sorted for those long away trips.

I wouldn’t exactly say I’ve been keeping myself trim over the summer, I’m a bit like Ricky Hatton between fights

“Rightly so the gaffer wanted 100 per cent from everyone. He was aware that it would be difficult for me in the Premier and I just assured him that I can do the travelling and put theeffort in, he was satisfied with that.

“Once that was sorted it was a no-brainer to sign again. It’s the highest level I’ve ever played at, I want to test myself and the manager thinks I’m good enough to at least give it a go so it was an easy decision once the work situation was sorted.

“It’s a bit weird not seeing the lads three or four times a week because I spend a lot of time with them during the season and there is a camaraderie that exists among the players.

“I’ve not completely lost touch with everyone and it will be nice to get back and see the boys, that’s something I am looking forward too!”

Hill recently revealed he is still in the hunt for a new left-back, suggesting Doyle will operate from his favoured central position next season – a prospect the versatile defender is looking forward to.

“I’ve played against the new signings Jack Parkinson and the lad Pires, so I know them vaguely as players and they seem like good lads – it will be great to forge a good relationship with Jack at centre-half.

“It’s an exciting time because they are great players and I think Garry Hill has done very well to snap them up.

“I think he’s quite right not to rush to bring players in, there is plenty of time to do that yet.

“A lot of lads leave it quite late in pre-season to find a club so I’m sure he’ll be bringing in quality as the summer goes on – it’s very exciting.  You saw last season how much the club gelled right from the fans up to those in the boardroom.

“Everyone was pushing in the right direction and I think it showed, especially in
performances.

“The whole feel around the club was certainly a lot better than it was the year before.

“That is something the manager and Steve Thompson have brought into the club and players want to play in that kind of environment.”

PATIENT - Garry Hill is willing to bide his time in the transfer market

PATIENT – Garry Hill is willing to bide his time in the transfer market

GARRY HILL does not predict any new signings to be unveiled at Kingfield until after the squad reports back for pre-season training.

Hill’s champions are still some way short of a full pack with only 13 players registered with Woking ahead of the club’s return to the Blue Square Premier.

And after completing an incredible hat trick of Blue Square South manager of the season awards, Hill confessed he didn’t expect much transfer activity before the players report for duty on July 2.

He said: “One or two could happen before then but I’m more interested in having my squad ready for the first league game in August.

We’ll pick and choose what is right for our football club, affordable for our football club but the players have got to want to come to Woking for the right reasons – that is very important to me

“What I’ve found out at the present time is that a lot of the players we are trying to fetch in and get on board want full-time football – and if they want full-time football they ask for full-time wages.

“There are only so many players who can get full-time football and I think the middle of July is when players go back to their clubs or go on trial looking for it somewhere else.

“When that doesn’t happen it becomes more of a level playing field where part-time clubs in the conference get a better opportunity.

“I’ve had some figures come back and I don’t think some football players really understand how hard it is out there. Some think the rules apply to everybody else but not them.

“We’ll pick and choose what is right for our football club, affordable for our football club, but the players have got to want to come to Woking for the right reasons – that is very important to me.”

Hill completed his amazing hat trick of manager of the season awards after leading Cards back to the top flight of non-league football following a three-year absence.

He was previously awarded the top honour with Dagenham & Redbridge in 2000 and with Weymouth six years later.

“I feel very proud,” said Hill. “I think someone said I was the first person to win it three times which makes it even more satisfying from that point of view but it’s a team award after the hard work from my staff and everybody at the club.

“Certainly the players and the fans who supported the club and played their part – I’m very pleased to pick up the award again.”

And there was more joy for the Woking boss as Alan Inns, Jack King, Giuseppe Sole, and new boys Loick Pires and Jack Parkinson all made the Blue Square South team of the year.

“There are five Woking players – past and present – in the team and they’ve got noticed for the right reasons.

“Of course I’m very pleased about it and even more so with our two new signings who were in the team with Welling.”

SIGNED - Jack Parkinson has joined the Cards

SIGNED - Jack Parkinson has joined the Cards

CARDS have completed the signing of defender Jack Parkinson from Welling.

The 22-year-old played 41 games for United last season and scored eight goals, three of which came against Woking.

The ex-Welling skipper said: “I met Garry yesterday, we had a chat and after coming away and sorting a few things out on my work side of things, I was really impressed with the club and the way it was presented.

“The fan base they have is fantastic, it’s a club that wants to do well and wants to push on and it’s a club that matches the ambition that I’ve got as well.

“I don’t like talking about myself too much I’d say I’m predominantly a defender. I played in midfield quite a few times last season, I got about 11-goals last season in all competitions which isn’t a bad return.

There’s no one in particular that I’m looking forward to playing, but it’s a new challenge of heading to new grounds and new teams – it’s something I can’t wait to get stuck into

“But more than anything I’m a lad that’s enthusiastic, loves what he does and is looking to push on and I feel I’ve made the right move. It’s a great club, with a good fanbase and it’s a club that wants to do well – it fits the bill really.”

The news comes on the same day that Woking announced they had signed Welling striker Loick Pires.

Parkinson added: “Loick is a good lad. He’s young like myself, he’s another one who is ambitious, he wants to do well and he is in the same boat as me.

“I suppose it helps him joining at the same time but I know the lads at Woking will be as good as gold. The gaffer has already said they are a good group and both of us really just can’t wait to get going.

“I was very impressed with the manager, him and Steve Thompson came across very well. He asked my views and at the same time he sold the club very well and that’s what has done it really.

“I want to play for a club that is ambitious and the manager is ambitious as well. Without going over the top, we know it will be hard but we feel we’re going to be quite well equipped by the time we kick-off to have a good go.

“My season ran on a little bit at Welling because of the play-offs so I wanted to get myself sorted. I had eight or nine offers from different clubs in non-league and in the league for next season.

“I wanted to get something sorted quick because I don’t like messing people about – there is nothing worse than people waiting on you and I was a bit paranoid that might happen so I wanted to make the decision sooner rather than later.

“Once I spoke to Garry my mind was made up.

“Every player will tell you it’s nice to play in front of big crowds each week and there will be no better than heading to Luton and the teams that attract big gates. It’s nice to test yourself against big clubs.

“There’s no one in particular that I’m looking forward to playing, but it’s a new challenge of heading to new grounds and new teams – it’s something I can’t wait to get stuck into.”

SIGNED - Loick Pires is Cards' first summer signing

SIGNED - Loick Pires is Cards' first summer signing

WOKING have made Welling striker Loick Pires their first summer signing.

Pires, 22, joined United from Leyton Orient at the start of the 2010-11 campaign and went on to score 20  goals in 60 appearances for the Wings.

He becomes Garry Hill’s first signing since Cards were crowned Blue Square South champions in April.

Speaking exclusively to the News & Mail, Pires said: “My first goal for Welling was against Woking with a free-kick a couple of years ago so I’ve had a bit of joy against them.

“But in recent times I’ve seen the quality that was there and I’ve been to the stadium a couple of times so it was a club I rated highly regardless of whether it was a club I joining or not.

“Obviously I knew a lot about Garry Hill and his pedigree so that came into it once he asked me to join. I’m looking forward to testing myself at a higher level.

Once I’m on the pitch I’m more than confident I can get the better of my opponent and one thing I can guarantee is that no one will work harder than me. That’s an attitude Garry Hill shares and that is where we met eye-to-eye

“I’m not fazed by the teams in the division. Compared to the Lutons and the Wrexhams Woking are a smaller club but to me, if you are on the pitch, it is 11 versus 11 and me against a centre-half.

“You’ve got to believe you can get the best of him. Whether they are playing two or three leagues above you or just above you in the league, it’s irrelevant to me.

“Once I’m on the pitch I’m more than confident I can get the better of my opponent and one thing I can guarantee is that no one will work harder than me. That’s an attitude Garry Hill shares and that is where we met eye-to-eye.

“When I was at Leyton Orient I was fed bread crumbs so I can’t really count that as a League One experience.

“All my experience has come in the Blue Square South and although there were five or six clubs interested from the conference, my heart was set on joining Woking from the off-set because I liked what he had to say and I like his philosophy.

“I really bought into that, amongst other things, and I thought it was the right time to test myself.

“There was an option for me to go into the conference last year but I was in a position where I thought it would be best to do another year in the Blue Square South and gain promotion – which I came very close to.  Right now, at my age, I think it’s the right time to test myself.

“In my first year at Welling I came in as a winger but I think myself now as more of a central striker. I can drift out wide, I’m quite pacy, I’m a lot stronger than I used to be and I’ve got a goal in me, too.

“I am primarily a target man but I like to think I can play on the deck too and I feel I’ve got a lot to offer the team in many areas.

“Defensively I do my job in terms of marking and I feel a threat going forward as well. The minimum you’ll get from me is hard work. Things might not go my way but I will run channels and work hard, that’s the minimum I will do.”

The announcement was accompanied by news that Kevin Betsy, Mark Ricketts, Adam Newton and Adam Doyle have all signed new deals at Kingfield.

A delighted Betsy said: “I enjoyed my three months towards the end of the season coming back so it was pretty much a no-brainer to sign a new deal.

“With the manager and Thommo committing their future to the club and after hearing their plans for the new season, it was easy to sign.

“The fans have always been fantastic with me and it’s like coming home again really.

“It’s an enjoyable place to play football and that is what I want to do at this stage in my career.

“I think the manager will draw on the experience of all the players at the club. He’s experienced in this division as am I and so is Steve Thompson.

“Thommo played in the conference for many years and when he was an assistant manager in a higher division he would always scout players in the non-league.

“They know the scene extremely well, they know the level, they know what’s required to do well in the league and keep us out of the relegation places.

“We are optimistic because we have the ability to perform well. We’ve got the nucleus of a good squad from last season and hopefully we can continue in the same vein.”

Academy graduates George Frith and Jack Mazzone have also signed first team contracts.

One player on his way out of Kingfield is Alan Inns who confirmed today via Twitter that he will not be extending his stay at Woking.

Inns made 33 appearances for the champions last season and scooped both the Cards Trust and Woking FC player of the year awards at the end of season trophy presentation.

He said: “Gutted to leave, but work and family to think about! Can’t fully commit 100 per cent. Been a great year personally. Great club/fans/lads #champions.”