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.
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.
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