Vanarama National League

WOKING moved back to the top of Vanarama League South on Tuesday – but they didn’t have it all their own way against mid-table Oxford City at Court Place Farm.

Armani Little celebrates after scoring

The Cards’ last-gasp 2-1 victory was enough to lift them three points clear of Torquay United at the summit, although the Devonians now have a game in hand and still boast a much superior goal difference.

The home team secured just a single corner in the first half, and failed to win another until 10 minutes from full-time, but certainly frustrated Alan Dowson’s outfit and were deserving of a draw.

Oxford went into the match on the back of a 5-3 home defeat to Hampton & Richmond Borough, and with a dismal record of only one win from their previous 10 league matches in 2019. But after seeing Woking’s Max Kretzschmar fire a free-kick narrowly over the bar, City went ahead in the 15th minute. 

What followed was a tense back and forth that saw the hosts come a hairsbreadth from equalising more than once as they harried the Woking visitors at every turn.

However, with the clock showing five minutes of injury-time played, City were unable to clear and Harvey Bradbury – on loan from Oxford United – volleyed past King, via the underside of the bar, to break the hearts of home players and supporters.

For the full match report get the 14 March 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