AFTER three straight wins, Woking suffered their first defeat of the season away to Wealdstone on Monday night, writes Andy Fitzsimons.

Matt Lench’s 84th minute penalty proved to be the difference, at least on paper, between the two sides; albeit The Cards were completely outplayed in the second half and lucky to lose by just a solitary goal.

Nicky Wheeler cracks in a shot for Woking

With the hosts shaping up in a narrow, but conventional 4-4-2 formation, Woking made the most of the wide space, with Nicky Wheeler and Max Kretzschmar both seeking to exploit down the flanks.

Former Stones’ defender Ian Gayle came close to opening the scoring, but his close-range header fell straight into the hands of Jonathon North inside the opening 10 minutes.

Paul Hodges probably should have done better too after he scuffed his shot on the turn as Woking looked the more likely to score.

The Cards were then denied a goalscoring opportunity when Stones’ defender Rhys Tyler shoulder-barged Hodges in the box, to which Jacob Miles, the referee, remarkably turned a blind eye.

As the half wore on, Wheeler failed to make the most of his one-on-one with North, as his final effort was cleared off the line.

However, when striker Jake Hyde lipped off seven minutes before half-time, it marked a turning point in the match.

In contrast to the first period, it was an awe-inspiring second half performance from the north-west London side, as Woking struggled to get out of their own half.

Connor Stevens headed just wide, then Wadah Admidi dinked his way past two defenders before his shot was eventually charged down by Kiran Khinda-John.

With The Stones laying siege to Woking’s goal, the final pass was often amiss as the visitors managed to scramble the ball away several times.

A snap-shot from Rhys Tyler’s was then brilliantly palmed away by Berti Schotterl.

But when David Pratt was upended by Khinda-John in the box, there was only likely to be one outcome.

With regular penalty-taker Danny Green off the pitch, substitute Lench stepped up to take the penalty-kick, which he slotted home with ease to give Wealdstone the lead.

Woking’s woes then went from bad to worse when Daniel Spence was sent off in stoppage time for a second bookable offence, as the hosts played out the remaining minutes to claim all three points.

WOKING: Schotteri, Spence, Casey (c), Khinda-John, Gayle, Colliers, Hodges (Saraiva, ‘62), Ferdinand, Hyde (Ofori-Acheampong, ‘41), Kretzschmar.  Wheeler (Young, ’73). Unused subs: Cook, Mason (GK).

Attendance: 1,323

MoTM: Wheeler

WOKING Gymnastic Club gymnast Jamie Lewis was flying the flag for club and county at this year’s Junior European Championships in Glasgow (9-12 August).

Jamie Lewis on the pommel horse at the Junior European Championships

The reigning under-18 British (Men’s Artistic) Champion joined Pavel Karnejenko (Notts Gymnastics Academy), Adam Tobin (Falcons Gymnastics Academy), Jake Jarman (Huntingdon Gymnastics Club) and Donell Osbourne (City of Birmingham Gymnastics Club) to complete the junior GB team.

Lewis (13.733) and Karnejenko (13.500) best impressed on the floor routine, and qualified for last Sunday’s apparatus final in first and sixth respectively.

Competing on his favoured pommel horse, Lewis was again in inspired form; showcasing his supremacy to score 13.833 to qualify in top spot.

And while the 17-year-old Woking gymnast could only manage to finish fourth on the rings, he still managed to reach three finals last Sunday.

In Sunday’s finals, Lewis produced three clean routines to conclude his last ever junior competition.

He took the gold in the floor final to become the Junior European floor champion, before winning

a silver in the pommel horse final and bronze in the rings final. All in all, if was enough to secure

silver overall; narrowly missing out on gold to Nicola Mozzato (Italy).

For the full story, pick up the 16 August edition

“THE FA Cup dream is over.”

Those were the words from Knaphill’s assistant manager Richard Keown, in the absence of boss Liam Parrington, after The Knappers fell at the first hurdle of this year’s illustrious cup competition.

Knaphill’s Harry Rapley is crowded out

And while many predicted the outcome ahead of the visit of Sholing, Keown was less than impressed with the manner in which his side lost; citing inexperience and a lack of desire to compete as the root cause of the Combined Counties League side’s ineptitude.

It was a contrasting performance to the Knaphill side that progressed through to the second qualifying round against National League South side Bath City last season – and won £6,425 in prize money.

Having scored seven and conceded just one goal from their opening two Sydenhams (Wessex) League Premier Division fixtures, it was another self-assured performance from The Boatmen at Redding Way – one that Knaphill weren’t able to counter.

The hosts were chasing the game as early as the third minute when Dan Mason was clean through on goal, before sliding the goal across Kieron Greene to give Sholing the advantage.

In reply, Scott Costello thought his header had crossed the line, but the match officials rightly ruled otherwise

Further chances came and went for the visitors, with Jack Collins most notably clearing off the line to deny Lee Wort, but the scoreline remained at 1-0 to give Keown and director of football, Barry Losty, plenty to think about at the interval.

In almost a carbon copy of the first half, Knaphill conceded within three minutes of the restart when Collins upended Dan Mason in the penalty box. After dusting himself off, Mason comfortably tucked away the resulting spot-lick to double his and Sholing’s tally for the afternoon.

With the hosts creating little in the way of goalscoring opportunities, it was perhaps no surprise when Sholing scored a third through Wort, which effectively killed off the tie in the 59th minute.

Speaking candidly to the News & Mail after the match, Keown pulled no punches, stating: “The performance wasn’t good enough.

“I thought our back four could have split better and make better use of the ball; I didn’t think our movement was very good up top, and we struggled to hold the ball when it did go up top. We also gave the ball away far too cheaply, which was disappointing.

“I don’t think we have the balance right between youth and experience among the current crop of players; there definitely needs to be a few new additions to avoid a repeat performance.

“Man for man I thought Sholing were far too strong for us; they were well-organised and we struggled to cope with the physical presence from their centre forwards.

“Having said that, I thought George Rowley was outstanding. Without him in defence, I believe we would have got hammered.

“Rowley was the exception to most today. Other players, meanwhile, need to harden up a bit; some of them need a big kick up the backside.

“Moving forward, we have to tempo and condition our personnel to meet with the demands of the level of football we’re playing at or we will struggle, no two ways about it; we definitely need to add to the squad,” confirmed Keown.

The Knappers can only hope for a better outcome when they host AFC Vardeanians in the Buildbase FA Vase on 1 September.

KNAPHILL: Greene, Barry, Rowley, Collins, Harris, Ahoblu, Losty (Knight), Costello, Goulter (Phillips), Rapley, Milne. Unused subs: Roffey, Roberts, Herring

MoTM: Rowley

STRAIGHT-talking Woking manager Alan Dowson, was less than complimentary about his side’s performance against Oxford City at The Laithwaite Community Stadium last Saturday.

Jake Hyde slides in to score Woking’s second goal against visiting Oxford City

Despite winning the game 3-2 – courtesy of a late strike from Paul Hodges to maintain their unbeaten start to the season – Dowson let rip in his post-match interview about his side’s lackadaisical showing.

Speaking to after the match, The Cards’ boss pulled no punches about his team’s performance. “We were useless, and I thought we were lucky to get away with it” he said.

“We’ve got senior players in the team, who have played at the higher level, but the way they passed the ball and moved, you were left thinking, are you sure?”

“You can be a tactician and write 25 things on a board, but if you haven’t got self-drive and enthusiasm you haven’t got anything, and I felt that some of the players were going through the motions.

“It’s my fault, though, as I rested players who I thought needed a rest. So, while I had a go at the players, I’m disappointed in myself; I’m just as bad as they are,” he concluded.

See the 16 August edition for more details and pictures

FOOTBALL: WITH virtually no players, a reduced budget and no pre-season fixtures arranged, Woking boss Alan Dowson probably wondered what he had walked into back in May.

Fast forward 10 weeks, Dowson and his management team have worked wonders to lift Woking from the mist of obscurity, to a force to be reckoned with.

Despite having, reportedly, a featherweight budget, Woking’s goals are anything but lightweight.

Speaking to the News & Mail ahead of his side’s first league fixture back in the National League South, Dowson is quietly confident that he has assembled a squad capable of making the play-offs.

Reggie Young in action against Farnborough last Tuesday. Picture by David Holmes


For the full story, buy the 2 August edition

SWIMMING: WOKING’s top swimmers were out in force at this year’s British National Summer Championships at Ponds Forge in Sheffield.

The six-day event was a showcase of the best of Britain, which saw 18-year-old Commonwealth Games swimmer Anna Maine scoop bronze in both the 50m backstroke and 100m freestyle events.

Hannah Burvill, currently on a full swimming scholarship at the University of Iowa, made a welcome return back to the UK to storm through her heats to reach the finals of the 100m freestyle.

Anna Maine,left, and Hannah Burvill

For the full story, buy the 2 August edition

CRICKET: RIPLEY proved that, on their day, they are more than a match for anyone in second tier of the Surrey County League.

Following their disappointing defeat home defeat against Effingham last Saturday, Ben Scott’s side bounced back to see off the league leaders Thames Ditton at Ripley Green.

The visitors won the toss and elected to field first on a fast wicket, which was primed for a high-scoring game.

Ripley initially started well, with openers Sahir Hussain and Scott scoring at a run-rate of five an over and looking comfortable at the crease.

For the full story, buy the 2 August edition

CRICKET: CHOBHAM’s late push to avoid the drop was given a welcome boost last Saturday after they comfortably beat fellow strugglers Mitcham.

After sharing the points, eight apiece, away to Morden the previous week, Chobham welcomed Mitcham knowing that there was no room for error.  Defeat was not an option.

The hosts won the toss and put Mitcham into bat first, which proved to be the right decision.

Mark Guest. Picture by David Holmes

For the full story, buy the 2 August edition

ATHLETICS: THREE athletes from Woking Athletic Club were in action for Surrey last Saturday in the under-13 Derek Crookes Inter-Counties Track & Field Meeting at Kingston-upon-Thames.

The trio, all graduates of the Woking’s academy, pit themselves against some of the best young athletes from other counties across the South of England.

Hayden Christian had a fantastic afternoon of competing after he won the B-race of the 75m hurdles in 12.29 secs; his fastest electronic time and just outside his best ever time.

Christian’s good form continued into the long jump where he produced a serious of superb jumps; including a new lifetime best of 5.01m, which ranks him 15th in the country for his age group.

In the throws, Matthew Smith was in action in both the discus and javelin. In the discus, Smith produced his third best ever line to finish fourth with a throw of 27.73m.

Hayden Christian and Matthew Smith

For the full story, buy the 2 August edition

FOOTBALL: WOKING manager Alan  Dowson has said that the start of the new National League South season can’t come soon enough.

With five pre-season fixtures already under their belt, Dowse is confident that win, lose or draw against Salford City on Saturday, it shouldn’t be a barometer of what to expect against East Thurrock United on 4 August.

He said: “When you look at the pre-season friendlies we’ve had to date, they’ve all been very different.

For the full story and local players to watch in 2018-19, buy the 19 July edition