cards

WOKING returned to winning ways with a 1-0 victory away to Truro City on Tuesday.

Going straight into The Cards’ starting line-up was midfielder Olu Durojaiye, who signed from Bostik League Premier Division outfit Haringey Borough on Monday.

Hodges, right, on the ball

Despite having made their longest journey of the season – a daunting 240 miles – Woking got off to a superb start at Treyew Road, David Tarpey and Jake Hyde peppering the goal with shots. The pressure finally paid off when Armani Little unleashed a rocket from 25 yards and beat City keeper Harvey Rivers.

Truro, with two wins and a draw from their five previous games this month, showed more steel in the second half and it was clear they weren’t going to roll over. But Woking were able to soak up the home side’s pressure and were good value for their win, which sees them back on track after the disappointment of Saturday’s match, a 2-0 defeat away to Dartford.

“It’s no secret that Dartford are a big, strong side that look to hit you on the counter attack,” said Woking manager Alan Dowson.

“The lad who elbowed Hodgy (Paul Hodges) should have been booked; how he didn’t receive a booking, God only knows.”

“I feel a bit hard done by from our two matches against Dartford. I thought we should have got something out of both,” he added.

For the full match reports and pictures, see the 28 February edition of the News & Mail

IT’S often said that being a football manager is one of the most stressful jobs you can do, but for Woking boss Alan Dowson, he’s taking it all in his stride.

When the Geordie first arrived at The Laithwaite Community Stadium back in May 2018, he had no players, no budget – or not one that had been confirmed anyway, and the horizon was, at best, uncertain.

Woking manager Alan Dowson, right, with Woking defender Nathan Collier

Fast forward nine months, The Cards’ boss, alongside his management team, has worked wonders to put Woking back on the map.  So much so, he has become one of the most instantly recognisable characters in non-league football – not just because of his native accent.

Speaking to the News & Mail on Tuesday, Dowson, now in his 13th year in football management, says that while The Cards are sitting pretty at the top of the National League South, the pressure is all on Torquay United and their boss, Gary Johnson.

He said: “I don’t really feel stressed about anything, that’s the truth of the matter.  Even though we’re top of the league, I don’t feel any pressure whatsoever. 

“Some things you can influence and some things you can’t, and what I can’t influence, there’s no point worrying about.

“Yes, we are in a good position in the league, but if I’m honest, I just look ahead at the next game of football, whereas Torquay have invested heavily to get promotion, so there’s more expectation on the manager and the players to deliver.  That’s pressure.

“As I see it, though, what will be will be; I’ve never been one to dwell on anything.  It’s about being the best that you can be and seizing the opportunities that come your way, which is what I tell the players,” he added.

Despite the financial gulf between Torquay, Billericay and several other clubs in the National League South, Dowson has proved that money doesn’t necessarily buy you success.  It’s having a group of players who are hungry to win silverware, not just about how much they can earn.

For the full interview get the today’s (21 Feb) edition of the News & Mail

LOAN signing David Tarpey scored for the third time in four matches as Woking moved to the top of the Vanarama National League South table on Tuesday.

The 30-year-old, who joined The Cards this month on loan from Barnet, bagged a penalty to help Alan Dowson’s side leapfrog Torquay United in the race for the championship.

Tarpey, right, celebrates scoring the first goal of the match, and scoring three times in four matches

Woking now hold a two-point lead over the Devonians, with both sides having played 29 matches. The teams lock horns at Kingfield on Saturday 6 April in what is shaping up to be a winner-takes-all encounter.

As in Saturday’s home clash with Weston-super-Mare, The Cards took an early lead against Hemel Hempstead Town at The Laithwaite Community Stadium on Tuesday, and went in at half time 2-0 up.

But things were different in the second half. Only three minutes in, Woking keeper Craig Ross was beaten by a low shot from Town substitute Arel Amu to slash The Cards’ lead.

Woking’s nerves were calmed though, when Harvey Bradbury, arriving from the bench, made it 3-1 with time running out.

Home fans showed their delight by chanting “We are top of the league”.  The pressure is now very much on Torquay.

For the full match report, get the 21 February edition of the New & Mail

WOKING won for the first time in four Vanarama National League South matches as they saw off East Thurrock United 3-0 at The Laithwaite Community Stadium on Saturday.

CELEBRATION: Collier, left, and Little, right, congratulate Tarpey

The Cards’ victory was their first in the league since they overcame Welling United at Kingfield on 9 January – exactly a month earlier.

So it was no exaggeration to say that the clash with The Rocks was one of Woking’s most important matches of the campaign.

Failure by Alan Dowson’s men to pick up three points would have given table-toppers Torquay United – whose home game with Chelmsford City was rained off – a crucial four-point advantage over the Surrey outfit, with both championship-chasers having played 27 times. As it was, The Cards closed the gap to one point.

New signing David Tarpey opened his account for Woking, before Greg Luer and Jake Hyde struck to kill off the Essex-based visitors.

For the full match report, see the 14 February edition of the News & Mail

WOKING FC has taken another step forward in its ambitions to transform its Kingfield stadium to English Football League standards, coupled with the building of new homes in the surrounding land.

Woking Borough Council announced on Tuesday this week that it has entered into an agreement with the club and the developers GolDev Woking Ltd allowing for the development of the Laithwaite Community Stadium and adjoining land.

Details of the proposals will be developed during consultation with Cards supporters and local residents but it is understood to involve turning the stadium into a larger facility that would allow the club to aim for promotion at least up to League One.

The ground currently holds a maximum of 6,000 fans, with 2,500 of those seated.

According to one estimate, upgrading the Cards’ home could cost £10 million and would be financed by building nearly 1,000 flats and 10,000 sq ft of retail space.

The News & Mail reported in April last year that the council had reached an agreement with GolDev on plans that have their roots in 2002.

With much-speculation over the size of the scheme and stadium specification, the overall development “will consider the reconfiguration of the football ground and construction of residential properties”.

However, plans to house an initial 10,000 all-seater stadium could be reduced by as much as 20% to 25% to be more in-keeping with the local area, but potentially allow for more non-matchday commercial opportunities that will make the project deliverables sustainable.

Commenting on the agreement announced this week, Rosemary Johnson, chairman of Woking FC, said: “This is a really exciting time for Woking Football Club and our supporters. We are an ambitious community-focused club with huge potential, shown by our recent FA Cup run.

“Whilst there is still a long way to go, these agreements signify the next chapter for our football club. Not only do they secure the long-term future of Woking Football Club, but will also enable us to continue and develop our much-valued community work.”

Chairman of Woking FC Rosemary Johnson

Speaking in a separate interview, Johnson added; “It’s a very complex project as you can imagine.  There are a number of different stakeholders who have a vested interest in the project from inception through to completion.

“Ultimately, it’s about encapsulating the history of Woking Football Club within a modern framework.  However, if the ground is too clinical, you can lose that history, so it’s about being ambitious, but considered.  It’s about taking fans and the local community on the journey with you.”

Cllr David Bittleston, Leader of Woking Borough Council, said: “Supporting the club’s long-term vision and securing its immediate financial future through these agreements will bring many benefits to the whole community.”

Wayne Gold, managing director of GolDev Woking Ltd, said: “With the agreements now in place, we will be reaching to supporters and the local community to help put together a detailed proposal that reflects the future ambitions of both the club and the town. It is important to us that their voice is heard ahead of submitting our formal planning application. The future is very exciting.”

Any proposed redevelopment of the Kingfield site is unlikely to commence until at least 2021, which could see both the David Lloyd as well as the gymnastics club being relocated before football takes precedent.

For the full story and interview with Chairman Rosemary Johnson, get the latest edition of the News and Mail (Feb 7th).

SOMEONE up there did not want this game to be played.

Despite the unparalleled effort of fans, the expert and precision decision making of the ground staff, plus all the will in Woking, Cards could not fulfil their Blue Square Premier meeting with Newport County on Tuesday.

A blanket of snow was carefully rolled off the Kingfield turf on Tuesday and, when match officials arrived at the ground at around 5.30pm, the pitch was deemed playable.

But a violent and unrelenting snow storm arrived to ruin the party, undoing all the volunteers’ efforts in a matter of minutes.

By 7pm the game had been chalked off – just the latest casualty in a long list of matches to be claimed by the freezing temperatures.

Garry Hill’s hopes were dashed as the green turf disappeared under a fresh coat of powder.

He also expressed his gratitude to the fans who helped give this fixture a fighting chance.

He said: “I feel so sorry for the supporters and everyone who have put in so much hard work earlier in the week. What I have learned at Woking is that we are all in it together.

“You’ve seen that response and that effort in the fans trying to get this game on. They all played their part and that is an encouraging sign for Woking.

“It’s unfortunate because there has been a lot of work put into this game by everyone connected with the club.

“The chairman, the directors, the supporters – everyone has put in such a great effort – and the groundsman has done brilliantly to get the pitch in perfect playing order at 6pm. It looked a treat – but all of a sudden the sky opened and the snow came down.

“It’s disappointing that we’ve now got to arrange the game for a later date.”

Hill’s primary concern is the prospect of a trip to in-form Kidderminster on Saturday, having not played a competitive game since the 1-0 win over Ebbsfleet on January 13.

Steve Burr’s Harriers will not be the same team who shared the spoils at Kingfield in November – but Hill urged fans not to forget Cards’ recent run heading into Saturday.

Kidderminster have rocketed up the table after losing their first five games of the season.

Burr’s side now occupy the final play-off place, and sit just six points off top spot.

But Hill pointed to the Cards’ recent upturn in fortunes and said: “They are a good side and are arguably as good as any we’ve played this season.

“It will be a very tough game for us because I think they’ve only lost something like two in their last 20 league games.

“They are flying but we’re not going too badly ourselves at the moment so hopefully we’ll get a good result.”

Woking 1
Stockport County 0

ADAM DOYLE glanced home an 85th-minute winner as Cards made it back-to-back victories and clean sheets in the Blue Square Premier.

The defender’s header five minutes from time kept Garry Hill’s men on the road to recovery, ensuring they followed up the midweek victory at Lincoln with another three points.

Brett Williams could have put Woking in control as early as the second minute but a rasping drive cannoned back off the underside of the bar.

WINNER – Adam Doyle celebrates his late goal against Stockport County

The Reading loanee then blazed well over with the goal at his mercy and it looked as if the Cards, for all their productivity in the final third, would fail to find the crucial goal.

But with time ticking away Doyle popped up to lift his side back into the top half of the table.

Hill said: “We are starting to realise that we have to do the ugly side of the game.

“We’ve had to work hard and sort a few things out this week but I’m well chuffed.

“It was a result we thoroughly deserved – I don’t think any club at any level can come off a result like we did last Saturday and get the two results that we’ve got.”

Pick up Thursday’s News & Mail for full reaction and report.

 

Gateshead 2
Woking 1

FIREWORKS were predicted on Tyneside – but this defeat was hardly a spectacle for Garry Hill to behold.

Gateshead were toppled 2-1 at Kingfield earlier this season thanks to goals from Jack Parkinson and Gavin McCallum.

But they got their revenge to end a run of 10 games without a win at the International Stadium on Saturday.

Parkinson’s opener was cancelled out by Josh Gillies’ driven effort and Liam Hatch’s precision header.

GOAL - Jack Parkinson scored for the Cards

GOAL – Jack Parkinson scored for the Cards

Hill had no excuses for his team’s lacklustre showing.

He said: “We knew it would be tough but we got the ideal start with an ideal goal but all of sudden they start to come out.

“They are probably the first team we’ve played this season where the level of fitness showed.

“They looked a little bit stronger, sharper and fitter than us and they had opportunities to completely bury the game which they didn’t take.

“We tried to change it but we can’t have any complaints – it was there day here and our day when we beat them at Kingfield.

“I’m disappointed not to take anything out of the game but if we had it would have been unjust on them.”

The fuse was lit in the opening two minutes when only successive goal line clearances from Adam Newton and Mike Cestor stopped the Heed starting with a bang.

But that scare sparked Woking into life and Parkinson confidently volleyed home Lee Sawyer’s precision cross to give Cards a sixth-minute lead.

The visitors dominated for much of the first-half but were pegged back in the 32nd minute when Gillies rifled past Aaron Howe.

Carl Magnay was stronger into a 50/50 challenge with Cestor and the ball broke for Lee Bullock.

The forward slipped in Gillies down the right and after storming into the area, ripped a low shot just inside the far post.

Gillies should have doubled his tally inside 60 seconds but headed Ryan Donaldson’s cross inches wide.

Donaldson was a thorn in Woking’s side all afternoon and was instrumental as Ian Bogie’s side took the lead right on half time.

The striker rolled in Bullock down the left who stood up a cross at the back stick for the unmarked Hatch.

With all the time in world the returning striker planted a header back across goal and past the stranded Howe.

Cards fizzled out after their restart and rarely pressured the Gateshead goal.

Substitute Nathan Fisher should have scored twice within three minutes of coming on but screwed wide with his first touch before firing harmlessly wide when played through by Gillies.

Howe saved well from Magnay’s header before the same player nodded wide from Paddy Boyle’s corner.

And the Woking keeper made an excellent save from Fisher in the final minute to stop Gateshead extending their lead.

Newport County 2 Woking 3

MAGNIFICENT Kevin Betsy had the league leaders looking like a bunch of plonkers as wonderful Woking tarred Newport’s unblemished Rodney Parade record.

The table-topping Exiles have been untouchable at home this season, racking up five wins and two draws from their opening seven games – conceding just two in a formidable start to their title push.

But their unbeaten record came to an unexpected end as the brilliant Betsy gave them a battering.

YOU BET-TER BELIEVE IT - Kevin Betsy ran riot at Rodney Parade

YOU BET-TER BELIEVE IT – Kevin Betsy ran riot at Rodney Parade

The veteran winger struck twice inside 16 minutes before Andy Sandell curled in for Newport bang on half time.

Bradley Bubb came off the bench to nab a precious third after 69 minutes.

But there was still time for more drama as Michael Flynn headed home in the 88th minute.

After hanging on to secure a rare away win, Betsy beamed: “It was a tremendous team performance.

“We were all disappointed with the performance and result last week but we dusted ourselves down and came out fighting.

“We are a good side on our day and we’ve got to put in these kinds of performances on a more consistent basis.

“If we cut out the errors and are more clinical when we are attacking then we can do OK in this division.

“In a few games we haven’t done ourselves justice and we’ve got to find that little bit of consistent form now.”

Full report and match reaction in your weekly Woking News & Mail

Woking 2
Southport 3

GARRY HILL locked his Woking players in the dressing room at full-time as he and Steve Thompson ruthlessly dissected Cards’ worst-ever performance under their stewardship.

Hill blew his top as goals from Andy Parry and Chris Lynch, plus Chris Lever’s late penalty, gave Southport all three points at Kingfield.

Cards had led through Kevin Betsy and, despite allowing the visitors to level before half-time, looked to be on course for back-to-back home wins after Liam Willis was sent off.

But the 10-men took the lead before Gavin McCallum hit back with just over quarter of an hour to play.

OVER BUT OUT - Gavin McCallum levels for Cards but Garry Hill was still left furious by the defeat

OVER BUT OUT – Gavin McCallum levels for Cards but Garry Hill was still left furious by the defeat

Again it appeared as if Woking would go on to win but Brett Johnson’s horrific error allowed Darren Stephenson to race through on goal.

Joe McNerney tried to make up the ground but was sent off after bringing down the forward in the area.

Lever converted the 82nd-minute spot-kick to leave Hill blind with rage.

Hill stormed: “Collectively they haven’t done their jobs and the players know that more than anybody.

“There are no excuses. You lose together and you win together in football, you stand up and be counted together and we’ve not done enough – no complaints no excuses.

“I’m very disappointed – the players have let themselves down and they’ve let the club down.

“You can’t be 1-0 up after 15 minutes and then turn around and think ‘job done’.

“That is the worst performance from a Woking team that I’ve seen in 18 months. I’m fuming at the moment.”

Dean Sinclair almost scored his first Woking goal but his 20-yard effort sailed over the bar after five minutes.

Cards did not have to wait long for the opener and after a confident start it was Betsy who came up trumps to capitalise on his opponents’ lack of attacking endeavor with the opener on 11 minutes.

In trademark fashion he skipped past three challenges down the right before clipping a cross into the area.

On the slick turf, the delivery avoided everyone before finding its way to McCallum on the left wing.

With a shimmy and measured square ball, McCallum found Betsy in the box and the forward had all the time in the world to sidefoot the game’s first goal past Tony McMillan.

And the Cards should have extended their lead but failed to apply the finish to a couple of tantalising crosses from Betsy and Lee Sawyer.

Southport’s leveller five minutes before the break came from nothing.

Russell Benjamin was allowed to squirm his way round Jack Parkinson on the edge of the area and roll off for Parry to drill past Sam Beasant.

Parkinson almost made amends for his soft piece of defending with a fierce left-foot drive that flew just wide, but the sides went in 1-1 at the interval.

Cards were slow out of the blocks in the second half but received a huge slice of good fortune when Southport were reduced to 10.

Betsy used all his experience to draw a foul from Willis who harshly received a second yellow after clattering into Mark Ricketts in the first half.

With Southport fighting an uphill battle and the 10 men there for the taking Cards were dealt an instant sucker punch.

Shaun Whalley’s near post corner could only be helped on by Mike Cestor and arriving at the back post was Lynch to volley in from close range.

A fantastic spin and snap shot from sub Loick Pires drew a good save from McMillan but the Cards struggled to settle into any rhythm against their depleted opponents.

Cards’ second goal was very similar to Southport’s first – a bolt from the blue in an otherwise lifeless second-half display.

A short corner allowed Bradley Bubb to smash a shot towards goal.

The strike hit a body and fell kindly to McCallum who, much like he did against Tamworth, fired off an effort that was hacked away from the goalmouth.

This time round the officials ruled in his favour and Woking were all square with 16 minutes to play.

But their hard work was undone eight minutes from the death when Johnson’s dreadful mistake allowed Stephenson to race through.

McNerney did his best to get across to make a challenge but the defender used too much force and bundled the Southport player to the ground.

McNerney was sent off and Lever coolly converted the resulting spot-kick in what Hill described as a real low point in his Woking career.