KNAPHILL crashed out the Senior Senior Cup in the cruellest way possible after losing 8-7 to a Kingstonian side 55 places above them in the football pyramid.

Knaphill boss Richard Keown made four changes to the side that drew 2-2 with Horley Town, while The Ks made six changes to their side that beat Bishop Stortford 3-0 last Saturday.

After a fairly non-eventful first half, which saw neither side register a clear shot on target, Knaphill notably led the charge in the second half.

Felix Ahorlu makes a run for Knaphill against Kingstonian. Ahorlu went on to hit The Knappers’ 72nd-minute goal. Picture by Andy Fitzsimons

Jacob McDonald came close to giving the hosts the lead, but Robert Tolfrey stood firm at the near post to keep the hosts at bay.

The visitors then came close to scoring themselves when Shaun McHolly hit the post from a freekick, with Kevin Wheeler saving well from the rebound.

However, The Knappers’ resilience paid dividends when Sheridan Campbell squared the ball for Eugene Hagan-Morgan, who saw his shot saved from point-blank range, only for Felix Ahorlu to find the net after 72 minutes.

The Ks’ hit back four minutes later from Thomas Brewer, who toe-poked home from a goalmouth scramble.

Both sides went in search for the winner in normal time, but it finished 1-1 and went straight to a penalty shoot.

With 13 of the opening 15 penalties converted, it was left to Matthew Kellet-Smith to keep the Knappers in the sudden death shoot-out.  Unfortunately, Tolfrey guessed correctly to save his spot-kick to send The Ks through.

Kingstonian will now play Carshalton Athletic in the next round of the competition.

WOKING manager Alan Dowson has said that his players have nothing to reproach themselves on after going down 2-0 to Watford in the Third Round of this year’s Emirates FA Cup.

With the estimated value of The Hornets 18-man squad thought to be worth in region of £150 million, many expected the National League South minnows to be stung for six.

Woking loanee Harvey Bradbury in action against Watford’s Domingos Quina.Picture by David Holmes

However, in front of a capacity crowd of 5,717 at The Laithwaite Community Stadium, The Cards held their nerve against a Watford squad packed with Premier League and international experience.  In the end, two goals from Will Hughes and Troy Deeney proved to be the difference.

Speaking to the News & Mail on Tuesday, Dowson had nothing but admiration for his players and club officials alike for a “great spectacle” and putting the town of Woking on the map.

“It was a magical day for the club. After I had finished all the interviews, I went down to the Kingfield Arms (pub just along the road from the ground) and the atmosphere in there was unbelievable.  You wouldn’t have thought that we had just lost a game of football.

“Everyone was in great spirit – it was great to see and be part of,” he said. “I have really good memories from the day; those that I can remember come Monday morning. 

“At one point, all I could recall having to do so many back-to-back post-match interviews, I thought I had my own chat show.

“Joking side, though, it’s important to not let the hangover of the FA Cup affect our league form as that’s ultimately what the players and I will be judged on at the end of the season,” he added.

Alan Dowson exchanges Newcastle Brown Ale for Javi Gracia’s sangria after Sunday’s match. Picture by Andy Fitzsimons

True to his word, Dowson gave Hornets’ boss Javi Gracia a bottle of his trusted Newcastle Brown Ale after the match in parting exchange for a bottle of Sangria.

While the Geordie’s offering may have been a world apart from the fine wine and fine dining his opposite counterpart has grown accustom to in the Premier League, he was grateful for the gesture; albeit the Spaniard was slightly more perplexed when Dowson told him to “neck it”.

“I haven’t opened the bottle of Sangria yet, but I will do.  I was going to have a dry (no alcohol) January, but February only has 28 days, so I’m going to hold off ‘til next month,” jested Dowson.

“The important thing now though is that we can properly focus on the league.  We’ve still got 19 games to go; and although we’re currently second in the league, a lot can change between now and the end of April.  I need to make sure that the players’ heads are on it. There can be no room for complacency whatsoever.

“I just hope that people who came along to the Watford game are able to come back and cheer us on in the league against Wealdstone (at home) on 26 January.  After all, a successful football club always creates a feelgood factor for the local community,” he added.

Having amassed over £200,000 from this year’s FA Cup competition alone, The Cards are now able to balance their books and meet their full operating costs until at least the end of the 2018-19 season. The only question that now remains: can Woking trump rivals Torquay United to win the National League South championship and gain automatic promotion back to the National League top-flight at the first attempt?

See full match report, opinion and picture special in the 10 January edition of the News & Mail

CHOBHAM’s woes continued after they came up short against local rivals Cobham at the Memorial Ground, losing 33-17.

With relegation to London Two South West looking increasingly more likely, Chob made the 26-mile round trip to Cobham hoping to bring some much-needed cheer.

Matt Bosworth taking a tackle for Chobham. Picture: John O’Brien

The visitors started the game positively, but made too many unforced errors early on to really trouble their Surrey rivals.

In contrast, the hosts remained composed throughout and took an early lead from a mazy run from all of 80 metres followed by a second, easier try shortly afterwards.

The visitors got themselves back in the game when hooker Robbie Brown managed to drive over the line after sustained pressure from the Chobham pack. Fly-half Josh Clark converted, which was nothing more than Chob deserved.

Despite having the wind behind them, the Surrey Heath side went into the break trailing 15-7, knowing that they would have to up the ante to topple their hosts.

Robbie Brown breaking through. Picture: John O’Brien

The second half proved to be a cagey affair, which saw both fly-halves taking penalties. Cobham registered three more points from the tee, while Clark managed one of his own to keep Chob in the running.

The visitors’ valiant efforts were not in vain, though, as they came within a whisker of their hosts when lock Dom Sammut crashed over for Chob’s second try of the afternoon.  Again, Josh Clark converted to make the scores 18-17.

However, Cobham seized the initiative to score two more tries to pull away and secure a 33-17 win.

After the match, Chob player coach Ryan Gregory said: “I thought the scoreline flattered Cobham somewhat, but they showed real composure when afforded the chances to score.”

SHEERWATER entered the history books after three brothers scored for the village side to see off Bagshot 4-2 last Saturday.

It was a moment to savour for the Taylor family after Timmy, Danny and Luke all found themselves among the goals at The Laithwaite Community Stadium.

Danny Taylor scored twice for Sheerwater. Picture by Andy Fitzsimons

It was also a feather in the cap for Sheers’ boss Pete Ruggles who triumphed over his elder brother Phil in the opposition dugout.

After a three-week break, Ruggles junior made four changes to the side that beat Fleet Spurs 4-2, with striker Danny Taylor making only his second start following his move from Abbey Rangers.

The Sheers begun on the front foot and almost got off to a dream start when Danny Taylor was brought down in the box by Kieran Sengelow with just three minutes played.

However, Shane Rideout’s resulting penalty-kick was superbly saved by Adrian Giles.

Despite the early onslaught, it was the visitors who bagged the opener when Kai Parton-Edey was unmarked at the back post to score after 17 minutes.

The Sheers remained the dominant force throughout the first half but were unable to find a way past a stubborn Bagshot defence.

Shane Rideout puts The Baggies’ defence under pressure. Picture by Andy Fitzsimons

The tide of fortune turned in the second-half and The Sheers were more than worthy of their equaliser when Timmy Taylor put the hosts back on level terms eight minutes after the restart.

One soon became two when Luca Scannella’s shot was blocked and ricocheted off Danny Taylor into the net to put the home side 2-1 ahead.

At the other end, The Baggies hit the woodwork, before The Sheers gave themselves a two-goal cushion when substitute Luke Taylor slid the ball through the keeper’s legs to make it 3-1 with 10 minutes remaining.

Danny Perks reduced the arrears in the 85th minute, but it was Danny Taylor who completed the goal-rush, dispossessing a defender, before sliding the ball past Giles to secure all three points.

Speaking to the News & Mail after the win, Pete Ruggles said: “I believe we have the best attack in the league; the Taylor brothers are a revelation, although it was a great team effort.”

For full match report and more pictures, see the News & Mail’s 13 December edition.

Play your Cards right

Woking draw Premier League Watford in FA Cup

WOKING have been paired with Premier League giants Watford in the Third Round Proper of The Emirates FA Cup.

After years away from the media spotlight, football fever will again hit the town of Woking when Alan Dowson’s National League South side host an all-star Hornets team next month.

Speaking to the News & Mail on Tuesday, an ecstatic Dowson said: “It’s an unbelievable draw. To have the opportunity to host a top 10 Premier League side at home is something that dreams are made of.

There’s plenty for Woking boss Alan Dowson to consider, ahead of Woking’s match-up with Premier League Watford

“When we played Tooting & Mitcham and Kempston Rovers in the qualifying rounds of the competition, who would have thought that we would get this far.”

When asked if he would have rather have played The Hornets at Vicarage Road, Dowson confirmed that, irrespective of who Woking pulled out of the hat, he wanted a home tie.

While cup ties could be switched to the opposition’s ground in favour of generating extra revenue, FA rules now only permit a change of venue now if the home team’s ground is deemed to be unsuitable for safety and security reasons, which is unlikely to apply to Woking.

“I know some people would probably have liked the match to be at Watford, but we want to be able to play in front of our own fans and enjoy the occasion,” explained Dowson.

“It’s more about uniting the local community and putting the club and the town of Woking on the map again.

“I’ve been in football management for over 12 years and opportunities like this don’t come around very often, so it’s a great chance for local people and sponsors alike to get more involved to support their local club,” he remarked.

In the meantime, Woking’s board of directors have set up an organising committee to work with the various authorities to establish the permissible ground capacity, FA segregation requirements and ticket allocation.

Fans who travelled to watch Woking beat Swindon Town 1-0 last Sunday are advised to retain their ticket stubs as The Cards consider a loyalty ticket booking system.

For the full report, see the 6 December edition of the News & Mail

JAKE Hyde ensured that Swindon will never forget the striker they discarded almost a decade ago.

Hyde was with The Robins on professional terms as a teenager but was released in 2009 without playing for their first team.

However, he came back to haunt his old club with the goal that sent Woking into The Emirates FA Cup Third Round Proper.

Jake Hyde wheels away in celebration after scoring. Picture by David Holmes

In the 54th minute of last Sunday’s Second Round tie at The Energy Check County Ground, Hyde headed in a cross from the left by Josh Casey to put The Cards into the Third Round for the first time since the 1996-97 season, when they lost in a replay to Coventry City.

Hyde’s goal was the icing on the cake for Woking, who made a gritty display against Sky Bet League Two opponents, soaked up pressure and capitalised on Town’s frustration.

There was plenty of action in the first-half, mostly in favour of the dominant home team. Yet somehow the sides changed ends with the scoresheet blank.

Then Woking rocked Swindon and their supporters when Hyde – who played League football for Barnet, York City and Stevenage and appeared in Scotland’s second tier – got on the end of Casey’s cross.

Jake Hyde heads Woking into the Third Round Proper of the FA Cup. Picture by David Holmes

Back came The Robins, and in the 67th minute they went agonisingly close to equalising. Tricky substitute Elijah Adebayo centred and Scott Twine’s shot was denied by Woking keeper Ross’ legs.

With time running out, Woking sensed victory and played down the clock sensibly, keeping the ball on the left wing deep in Swindon territory.

And then it was all over. The Cards had defied the odds to add another glorious chapter to their history of FA Cup giant-killings.

For full match report, pictures and opinion, get the 6 December edition of the News & Mail

TOBY Edser celebrated his loan spell extension with a goal as Woking booked their place in the First Round of the FA Trophy with a 2-0 victory at home to Folkestone Invicta last Saturday.

The Nottingham Forest under-23s midfielder Edser put Alan Dowson’s side ahead after 21 minutes, before Paul Hodges doubled The Cards’ lead in the 35th minute, as Woking made light work of their Bostik League Premier Division opponents.

Paul Hodges slides the ball home for Woking. Picture by David Holmes

Folkestone had their best chance to score in the closing stages, when substitute Ian Draycott spurned a great opportunity from inside the six-yard box, as Woking held out to book their place in the First Round Proper of the FA Trophy.

Reflecting on his side’s performance 24 hours after the match, Cards’ boss Alan Dowson said: “There was the potential for Folkestone to be a banana skin fixture, so I was pleased that we managed to get on top early.

“They’re a side that score a lot of goals, but equally one that concedes a lot of goals too. At times, it seemed like they had six players up front, so it was important to be mindful of how they set up and to exploit their defensive weaknesses, which I felt we did ok.”

For the full match report and pictures, see the 29 November edition of the News & Mail

CHOBHAM’s season went from bad to worse last Saturday after they were thrashed 77-7 away to Thurrock.

It was the Surrey Heath side’s heaviest defeat in recent memory as they slipped into the bottom two of the London One South, prompting the need for potential widescale changes.

Tommy Reed tries to find a way forward for Chobham. Picture by John O’Brien

Despite making the long journey to Essex, Chobham were in good spirits and things looked up when they opened the scoring within a few minutes as Ben Whale crossed over the line for the first five-pointer, with fly half James Dunne adding the extras.

It wasn’t long, though, before Thurrock levelled the scores with a converted try of their own, followed by two more converted tries before the break to take a 21-7 lead.

Already plagued by injury this season, it didn’t get easier for Chobham as players pulled up injured. Thurrock, who recently added former Saracens, Ealing and England Sevens international Sam Stanley to their ranks, started to pull the strings, create gaps all over the park and run their opponents ragged, running in eight more tries.

Chob will be hoping for a much-improved showing this Saturday when entertain London Cornish at Fowlers Wells in a game they can ill-afford to lose.

For full match report and pictures, see the 29 November edition of the News & Mail

BEN Gerring made amends for his own goal against Gloucester City to score the winner against Slough Town and send Woking back to the top of the National League South table on Saturday.

The defender’s 30th minute strike was enough to give The Cards their third away win in eight days; albeit they were made to work hard for the three points against a tenacious Rebels side.

Armani Little battles hard for Woking. Picture by David Holmes

Josh Jackman reflected the nature of the first half proceedings when he managed to outwit three Woking players before firing over the crossbar, which typified The Rebels lack of composure in front of goal.

The miss proved costly for the east Berkshire side when Max Kretzschmar’s corner kick was stabbed home by Gerring to give The Cards the lead on the half-hour mark.

The Rebels continued to put the visitors under pressure in the second half, but The Cards’ defence remained resolute as Woking moved back to the top of the National League South table.

Full match report and pictures in the 22 November edition of the News & Mail

THERE was lots of glitz and glamour on show at Woking Athletic Club’s Annual Awards Evening at the HG Wells Conference Centre.

With plenty of silverware at stake, the club celebrated its most successful track and field season ever in the esteemed company of the Mayor and Mayoress of Woking, Cllr Will Forster and Hannah Thompson, along with other dignitaries.

Woking Athletics Club award winners. Picture by David Holmes

Among those recognised for their achievements were Izzy Leikis, who scooped the Under-17 Best Field Performance for the high jump.

Leikis is currently ranked 13th best in Great Britian for her age group, moving up an impressive 17 places from her 2017 ranking.

Dominic Ariyo Francis receives the award for Under 17 Boys’ Best Track Performance from News & Mail sports editor Andy Fitzsimons

Another winner on the night was Matthew Smith, who picked up the Kim Henderson Memorial Trophy for the best performance at the Young Athletes Championships.

He also scooped the Best Field Performance for an under-13 boy, which sees him rank seventh in the UK for the discus event.

With 38 track and field club records broken, along with six athletes who reached the English Schools Championships, it’s been a truly momentous year for the south Woking-based club.

For a full list of winners, plus picture spread, see the 22 November edition of the News & Mail