woking fc

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

WOKING Ladies could be on course to complete the ‘treble’ if they beat North Leigh Ladies in their League Cup semi-final this Sunday.

In what is only their second season in the Thames Valley League, Woking Ladies rise to the fore could see them trump their male counterparts to silverware.

Chelsea Goulter on the ball

Under the managerial guidance of former Reading Town and Chertsey Town Ladies’ coach Craig Gareppo – and assistant Leigh Hunter – Woking Ladies are fast proving a force to be reckoned with.

With just two defeats in 22 matches, The Cards could win the Division Two East championship and reach two cup finals by the end of the month – a feat many other clubs would find hard to rival.

Speaking exclusively to the News & Mail, Gareppo praised his players’ renewed drive and professionalism after they finished third in their inaugural season.

“We’ve attracted players who have played at a higher level, which has helped bring about a more professional approach,” explained The Cards’ boss. “Their attitude on match days has really rubbed off on the whole team.

The Cards are currently three points behind Abbey Rangers Ladies Reserves, but with three games in hand. 

The Ladies’ section also has the full support of Woking’s men’s manager too, Alan Dowson, who has not only watched a few games, but also took charge of a few training sessions in the summer.

For the full story, pick up the 7 March edition of the News & Mail

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 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.

Philpot’s Goal-Hungry

Millwall loanee hopes to strike it lucky against Hartlepool

ON-LOAN Woking FC striker Jamie Philpot knows a thing or two about scoring goals. After all, he scored his first senior career goal for Millwall in the SkyBet Championship at the age of just 18.

GOAL-HUNGRY: Philpot has the potential to reach double figures before January 2018. Picture by Andy Fitzsimons

The Kent-born marksman, who is on-loan to Woking from The Lions until January 2018, opened his account on what was only his second start as a number 9 against AFC Fylde last Saturday (23 Sept. ’17).

And if Philpot’s hard work and phenomenal goal scoring prowess as a Millwall academy player is anything to go by, he could well be into double figures by the turn of the year.

Speaking to the News & Mail ahead of this weekend’s fixture against Hartlepool United (30 Sept. ’17), the young striker is delighted to have broken his duck for his new club.

He said: “Scoring against Fylde felt like a massive relief. I should have scored against Wrexham last month, but it was still good to finally get off the mark.

“It was a fantastic delivery by Nathan Ralph and it was so nice to see the back of the net ripple.

“Even before the match, the players said ‘today will be your day’, and luckily it was, but the most important thing was the three points for the team.”

Praise

Philpot paid homage to Cards’ boss Anthony Limbrick, who negotiated a deal in August to bring the striker from Millwall to Woking on a five-month loan deal.

“Working under Anthony is fantastic, as he leads by example and galvanises the whole squad.

“On a training day, he’s not just there 10 minutes before the players arrive, but an hour or two before training starts to set everything up.

“It’s not simply about going through the motions, he tells the players what he’s going to do and the reason why we’re going to do it.

“Analytically, he’s very good too, because he puts things in context. He explains what we’re doing well; what we haven’t done as well, and what areas we can improve on. That’s generally something you only get at professional clubs, not in non-league, so Anthony certainly bucks the trend.

While Philpot accepts that the hustle and bustle of the National League is quite different to academy football, and that of the English Football League (EFL), he believes his loan-spell will make him a more rounded player.

“I felt that I could always score goals an academy player, but men’s football is completely different, explained Philpot. “It’s all about taking your chances.

“From what I can remember, I only had one chance against Fylde, and I managed to take it, and that’s what it’s about; hitting the target.

“I’m still at the stage where I’m learning, and I need to continue to affect the game and score goals, so it shows Millwall that I’m capable of playing in the League (EFL).

“For me, it’s now about the three points on a Saturday (or Tuesday night), whereas academy football is just about development. There’s a point where it’s not just about development anymore per se, but the three points on a match day; that’s the bit I’m learning the most.”

Conditioning

While the surroundings of non-league football will naturally differ from those competing in the upper echelons of the game, Philpot believes that everything from the playing surface (home ground) to the way Woking conditions its players is carried out with the utmost professionalism.

“Anthony’s got the academy background; he and his team know how to develop and get the best out of players in a highly competitive environment, so he has the advantage over many other non-league managers. He’s been conditioned to think and work in a certain way, which the players really buy in to,” said Philpot.

“At the start of the season, the aim was for Woking to finish in the top half of the table and within reaching distance of the play-offs, but now there’s a confidence about us.

“There’s a really good squad of players here, and if we defend from the front and take our chances, the team will continue to do well.

“We’ve won the last five out of six and, while we’ve got to keep our feet on the ground, ultimately, it’s about getting Woking promoted,” he added.

Philpot will be hoping to double his tally in as many games when Woking host Hartlepool United for the first time at The Laithwaite Community Stadium.

WHEN Jess Holmes was unveiled as Woking FC’s new commercial manager earlier this month (Sept. ’17), she was under no illusion that she was stepping foot into, predominately, a man’s cave.

AMBITIOUS: Woking’s new commercial manager, Jess Holmes. Picture by Andy Fitzsimons

For years, football has long been associated with breweries and cigarette manufacturers, but Holmes is clearly intent on bringing more lateral thinking to the table to help promote positive change and one that will influence the way people perceive Woking.

With a degree in business management, Holmes is keen to utilise her business acumen and commercial flair to not only entice more fans through the turnstiles, but to engage a wider audience, both on and off the field.

Acknowledging that football is a brand in its own right, Woking’s new commercial prodigy is determined to capitalise on the club’s good fortunes on the pitch in a bid to get people talking about it off it.

And while there’s no quick fix to Woking’s financial disadvantage when compared to many of its other National League counterparts, the club does now have a sound base for a sustainable future.

“As soon as I came to Woking, I was excited by the opportunity and potential to make a difference,” explained Holmes.

“From my perspective, I see it as a bit of blank canvass, and that’s not to undermine the great work and efforts of any of my predecessors, but merely looking at the potential here in terms of the experience and commercial proposition that Woking Football Club has to offer.

“We’ve got some great names already associated with the club, but there’s scope to really ramp things up. There’s also the match day experience, which is a revenue generator in itself, and to define what that experience actually comprises.”

The former head of business development at talkSPORT believes that there are a number of things that can benefit the club too, which don’t require huge investment or large-scale change. In many respects, they’re minor tweaks that can make the overall experience even more professional.

Woking already has a commercial advantage over its nearest and dearest, insofar that it can accurately promote itself as the largest or most senior football club in Surrey.

And while some would argue that Sutton United could challenge the status quo, The U’s fall under the municipality of a London borough.

Prior to taking on the commercial reigns at Woking, Holmes had spent much of her professional career working in advertising, so when The Cards’ vacancy came up, her decision was almost instantaneous.

“The Board have been great about me coming in; giving me the autonomy to look around, and to go back to them with ideas on how to improve things. There will inevitably be some financial constraints, but you would expect that in the National League.

“Woking, as a town, is a relatively affluent place, but it doesn’t mitigate the need to communicate our value proposition on a regular basis.

“When we played Sutton a couple of weeks ago (16 Sept. ’17), I thought: what a brilliant afternoon of entertainment. And to think that it only cost an adult (early bird) season ticket holder less than £5 admission.

“This is a great example of what can be achieved, but change of course won’t happen overnight.

“Without giving too much away at this stage, there are a number of things that we are doing, and will be doing, to become more effective and efficient in the way that we engage with key stakeholders.

“Everything from the provisions for home and away spectators, to looking at the commercial arrangements when fans are segregated,” she added.

It is understood that Holmes is currently in the throes of developing a CRM (customer relationship management) database, so the club can gather more granular information on its partners, but also its season ticket holders too.

Improved signage is also believed to be a key area, as is having a more formal concierge service to greet the opposition – to name just a few.

And while neither is hugely commercially driven, they all go a long way to help improve the match day experience and provide the platform for bigger and better things.

Cambridge United 1
Woking 0

A heartbreaking late winner dashed Woking’s hopes of edging closing to the 50 point survival target manager Garry Hill set at the start of the season.

It seemed as though the Cards were heading for a first at Cambridge – a first 0-0 draw of the season.

The last time they recorded that score was way back in October 2011 against Salisbury City, but Tom Shaw capitalised on Seb Brown’s error to hand the U’s all three points deep into added time.

The home side’s goal rubbed more salt in Woking’s wounds as moments before the Cards should have been awarded a penalty after Jayden Stockley was brought down.

Ref Robbie Whitton’s decision not to point to the penalty spot left Hill furious. He said: “You could see quite clearly from our end that the Cambridge player grabbed him (Jayden Stockley).

“I cannot believe what I have seen in respect of the referee just waved his arms as if nothing had happened. Why didn’t he book him for diving? It was a very, very bad decision from the referee. Any person in the ground today would say that it was an out and out blatant penalty. I just cannot believe what I have seen.”

Cambridge had all of the play in the first 15 minutes. Nathan Blissett’s flicked shot was held by Brown at his near post before the former Kidderminster man, who had troubled Woking at Kingfield earlier this season, headed wide from eight yards.

Lee Sawyer returned to the starting XI following his four game ban but even the exuberant creative midfielder couldn’t weather the U’s early storm.

But the former Chelsea and Southend youngster put in a put in a good performance to satisfy his boss.

Hill said: “He’s a good player (Lee Sawyer) and everyone knows that. There’s no secret about it, Lee let himself down in a bad way. He’s been disciplined by the club, disciplined by myself and he’s taken his punishment and accepts it.

“We’ve had a meeting and a chat with him and told him the standards we expect and need on and off the field.”

John Nutter put in a low cross out of Sawyer’s reach which was as close as Woking struggled to have an impact in the opening 45.

Hill knew his side were in good shape to come away with three points going into the second periods but rued his side’s missed chances.

The gaffer moaned: “I felt confident we could go on and win the game. Second half we had some good opportunities and we were trying to win the game, there’s no doubt about that.”

Kevin Betsy should have put Woking ahead when he found some space at the back stick – but his effort only found the side netting.

Then came the game’s flash point as Cards were denied a spot kick after being bundled to the ground when free in the box.

Hill was seething at Whitton’s decision and waited around at full time for an explanation.

He raged: “I’m disappointed with the referee. I’ll go and see him but that’s not going to achieve anything. I’d like to know how he’s made his decision, why he’s made his decision and if he can explain it to me I’d like to hear what he says.”

And it went from bad to worse for Woking in the third of three added minutes when Brown failed to punch the ball clearCurtis Haynes-Brown’s cross.

The delivery fell to Tom Shaw who with all but the last touch of the game headed into the far corner to give the U’s the three points.

Hill made it clear his keeper should have dealt with the situation.

“From where I am he should have dealt with it better. We’ll have a look at it, I’ve got a view at the moment but I’d like to see it again. It does hurt, there’s no doubt about that but when you see the events in the last two or three minutes of the game it is hard to accept.”

Woking: Brown,  Newton (Frith, 67mins), Ricketts, McNerney, Parkinson, Bubb (McCallum, 76mins), Betsy, Sawyer, Johnson, Stockley, Nutter.

Attendance: 2054