WOKING manager Alan Dowson is hoping new Ghanaian striker Bradley Hudson-Odoi will be the answer to his prayers.

Now 30, Hudson-Odoi, who is the elder brother of Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi, is expected to go straight into the side against Oxford City on Saturday.

Woking manager Alan Dowson hopes to boost The Cards’ goalscoring form

It is hoped the former Wealdstone, Sutton United and Hampton & Richmond Borough striker, who has represented 12 different clubs since leaving Fulham in 2008, can reignite The Cards’ goalscoring form to bolster their Vanarama National League South title chances.

Speaking to the News & Mail this week, Dowson acknowledges that his side are going through a “blip”, following Woking’s 2-0 home defeat to Wealdstone on Saturday.

However, he believes it’s nothing that can’t be fixed with a “few tweaks to here and there”.

He said: “We seemed to have hit a bit of a lull after the Watford (FA Cup) game.  We don’t have the same potency in front of goal and we look likely to conceded soft goals.

“The National League (South) is a tough league, which is evidenced when the likes of Wealdstone, who we played last Saturday, reportedly played £15,000 for a striker, while two other clubs in the league are full-time.

“If we’re going to challenge for the title, we need someone who can score us 15 goals, and it doesn’t help that Jake (Hyde) is injured and Max (Kretzschmar) who is our top goalscorer, pulled up again (hamstring) last Saturday.

“Bradley was unable to play against Wealdstone; however, all being well, he will play against Oxford City this weekend,” he added.

For the full interview get the 31 January edition of the News and Mail.

WESTFIELD extended their winning run in the Bostik League to five matches, and maintained their push for promotion, when they got the better of Northwood on Saturday.

Yellows’ boss Tony Reid vowed to “keep doing what I’ve been doing” – and it certainly worked, as he inspired his men to a 3-1 victory away at Northwood Park.

Westfield boss Tony Reid has been pleased to see more consistency on the pitch

Gregory Hayden put Westfield in front on the stroke of half-time, putting a powerful header past keeper Luke Sheldrick. After Northwood equalised early in the second half, goals from Aaron Watson and Tinashe Nkoma sealed the game for The Yellows.

“We are more organised and regimented after an inconsistent start to the season, and we have a strong bond among the team,” declared boss Reid.

For the full match report, get the 31 January edition of the News & Mail

RELEGATION-threatened Chobham gave a good account of themselves away to high-flying Medway on Saturday, despite losing 45-12.

Following the previous week’s woeful performance against lowly Tottonians, Chob made the long trip to Kent seeking to restore some pride.

Sam Rumball on the charge for Chobham. Picture by John O’Brien

Chobham player coach Ryan Gregory was forced to make a number of changes, which was compounded further during the warm up as the club’s injury list continued to take its toll. 

Unsurprisingly, Medway were strong in possession as they moved the ball around quickly against a facing wind as they sought to exploit the Surrey Heath side’s defensive frailties.

Reflecting on Chob’s performance after the match, Gregory said: “Medway look every bit a title contender. However, for the second time this season, they were full of praise for the way we played.

“They’re of the opinion that we have far more quality than their league position suggests.  We just need to make this a reality and get some points on the board.”

For the full match report, see the 31 January edition of the News & Mail

WOKING missed the chance to move back to the top of Vanarama National League South last Saturday, when they could only draw 1-1 with St Albans City at Clarence Park.

Pacesetters Torquay United conceded two goals in the final eight minutes to lose 3-2 to Bath City in front of a 3,492-strong crowd at Twerton Park, meaning The Cards would have taken pole position with victory in Hertfordshire.

However, St Albans were in no mood to give Woking an easy afternoon, and forced their visitors to come from behind to snatch the point that left them only one adrift of Gary Johnson’s Devonians, but with two matches in hand.

Greg Luer unleashes a shot for Woking, but was denied by city keeper Dean Snedker. Picture by David Holmes

So The Cards’ superb run of eight consecutive victories in the league came to an end. Last Saturday was the first time since the 3 November stalemate at Chippenham Town that Woking had dropped points.

Chances were at a premium in a scrappy opening half-hour, although the visitors’ rhythm was hampered when Jake Hyde went off with a hamstring problem after only 20 minutes.

However, City broke the deadlock in the 31st minute.

Woking failed to clear a St Albans attack and the ball fell to Zane Banton. He sent in a shot from just inside the box and team-mate Solomon Sambou stuck out his right boot eight yards from target to divert the ball past keeper Craig Ross via the far post.

Five minutes later, The Cards were back on terms. A Josh Casey free-kick was nodded into Jack Cook’s path by a home defender and the former Hampton & Richmond Borough man drilled in the equaliser from just inside the box.

Jack Cook gives a ride to Armani Little after scoring Woking’s equaliser at St Albans. Picture by David Holmes

Ross saved with his feet to deny David Moyo four minutes before the break.

And Moyo went agonisingly close to restoring City’s lead in the 50th minute. After being set up by Ben Wyatt, Moyo powered in a header which crashed off the back post.

Substitute Greg Luer forced a smart save from home gloveman Dean Snedker, before palming over Ben Gerring’s header. Another substitute, Paul Hodges, won Woking a penalty with 17 minutes remaining. He was judged to have been brought down in the box by Banton, but Luer’s spot-kick was thwarted by Snedker’s legs.

City roared back and twice saw efforts cleared off the goal-line as Woking hung on for a draw.

SHEERWATER took the honours from last Saturday’s top-of-the-table clash, producing what boss Pete Ruggles described as their “best performance of the season”.

Victory for Frimley Green at The Laithwaite Community Stadium would have seen them pull seven points clear of The Sheers.

But a lone goal gave the hosts a crucial success and left them four points behind leading pair Bedfont & Feltham and The Green.

Danny Taylor scored the vital goal for Sheerwater

Ruggles brought in Andrew Rothwell and Danny Taylor for the clash – and the latter’s return proved pivotal.

Sheerwater made a strong start and forced five corners in the opening 10 minutes.

But it wasn’t until the half-hour point that they got the breakthrough. Shane Cheeseman crossed to Danny Taylor who controlled, cut in and curled the ball into the net.

The goal sparked Frimley into life, but The Sheers survived the onslaught and were happy to hear the half-time whistle.

Sheerwater upped their game in the second period.

Chris Machay crashed the ball off the bar and was unable to put away the rebound.

Soon, Danny Taylor felt he had been impeded in the box, but the referee waved away appeals for a penalty.

In the final 20 minutes, Danny Taylor twice went close to extending Sheerwater’s lead. His second attempt saw him certain to score after rounding the keeper, only for a Frimley defender to make ground and clear the danger.

Any hopes the visitors had of hitting back for a draw were dispelled in the closing stages, when they had two players sent off.

“Based on the threat of Frimley, this is probably our best performance of the season,” said boss Peter Ruggles. “We had to win at all costs and the boys put in a proper shift.”

WESTFIELD strengthened their claim for a place in the end-of-season play-offs by sweeping aside county rivals Chipstead last Saturday.

The result saw The Yellows climb to fifth place in the table and left manager Tony Reid delighted.

Westfield went into the match on the back of three successive clean sheets, prompting Reid to name an unchanged side from that which overcame Marlow the previous weekend.

Westfield’s Tinashe Nkoma put The Yellows in front on Saturday

And Reid’s decision paid off after only five minutes at Woking Park.

Tinashe Nkoma was put through on goal and curled the ball past Chips’ keeper Taye Ashby-Hammond to hand Westfield the lead.

The visitors might have felt aggrieved at falling behind because they played some quality attacking football.

Indeed Chipstead put their hosts under pressure, only for The Yellows to ride it out and rock their opponents by doubling the advantage in the 34th minute.

This time, Dylan Cascoe created an opening along the wing and set up Antonios Kozakis who swept the ball past Ashby-Hammond.

The goal fired Westfield, who could have netted again before half-time.

Nkoma slammed an effort against the bar and Louie Downey was just unable to connect with the loose ball.

Reid admitted that he was surprised by Chipstead’s attack-minded play so he changed The Yellows’ formation for the second half.

A snapshot from Cascoe was saved by Ashby-Hammond, but The Chips hit back to apply pressure again. Westfield conceded a series of needless free-kicks, but keeper Gary Ross was up to the challenge and the home side chalked up another three points in their quest for a Premier Division spot.

A BRILLIANT first 30 minutes from much-changed Knaphill inspired them to victory at Walton & Hersham, despite The Swans mounting a gritty comeback.

Although The Knappers saw off Fleet Spurs last midweek in the Cherry Red Records Premier Challenge Cup, manager Richard Keown shuffled his pack.

He made five changes to his side for last Saturday’s clash with relegation candidates Walton at Elmbridge Sports Hub.

Sheridan Campbell was on the scoresheet for Knaphill

And it seemed an inspired decision as the villagers found themselves three goals to the good inside the opening 23 minutes on the 3G surface.

Knaphill moved ahead after only six minutes, Jack Leighton nipping in at the near post to bury Scott Costello’s cross.

One became two shortly afterwards, when Matt Kellet-Smith rose highest in the box to head home a free-kick. The goal was the defender’s ninth of the campaign.

And The Knappers were in dreamland midway through the first period, when Sheridan Campbell made it 3-0.

Campbell played a one-two and lashed the ball past the onrushing gloveman.

Walton slowly recovered their composure and gave the scoreline a flattering look by cutting the deficit on the stroke of half-time thanks to an 18-yard drive.

The Swans were fired up for the second half and gave Knaphill’s defence a tough time. However, it wasn’t until the 80th minute that Walton scored again – yet it was enough to produce the possibility of a grandstand finale.

There was another goal, although it didn’t go the hosts.

The Knappers raised their game and debutant Martin Smith nutmegged Walton’s keeper with time running out to ensure maximum points went to the Redding Way outfit.

Walton’s marksmen were Patrick Kirby and Tyreke.

WESTFIELD moved into a play-off position after they edged aside promotion-hopefuls Marlow 1-0 on Saturday.

The Yellows executed their game-plan to perfection and secured all three points away at the Alfred Davis Memorial Ground.  They also registered their third consecutive clean sheet.

Westfield’s scorer, Dylan Cascoe. Picture by Andy Fitzsimon’s

After defeating Bedfont Sports 3-0 in midweek, Westfield boss Tony Reid made just two changes to his starting XI, with Adam Bellmaine and Antonios Kozakis both getting the nod.

Chances on goal were at a premium throughout the first half, with both sides nullifying each other.  After the break, the visitors moved up a gear and showed plenty of character, which has seen them rise up the table as one of the form teams.

Dylan Cascoe was put through on goal, sliding the ball past the onrushing Marlow keeper Simon Grant to put Westfield 1-0 ahead after 66 minutes.

Speaking to the News & Mail after the match, Reid said: “When Marlow came to us (at Woking Park) earlier in the season I thought they were arrogant, so we wanted to frustrate them on the return fixture and teach them a lesson.

“My players showed plenty of character; they showed they were men,” he added.

For the full match report, get the 17 January edition of the News & Mail

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