woking fc

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

Woking 1 Lincoln City 1

CARDS failed to build on Brett Johnson’s second-minute opener and were forced to share the spoils with Lincoln City.

Johnson got Woking off to a flying start, meeting ex-Imp John Nutter’s cross to head home.

But Cards didn’t have it all their own way and City got back on terms through Vadaine Oliver in the 25th minute.

ON YER 'ED - Cards celebrate taking the lead

ON YER ‘ED – Cards celebrate taking the lead

A share of the points means Woking now only need two more to reach Garry Hill’s magic 50 target.

But they’ll have to wait until Wednesday’s game with Mansfield for another bite at the cherry.

Hill had no complaints about the result, he said: “It was a point won today. I thought we did enough to win it but when you look at the week, we’ve taken four points out of six against Forest Green and Lincoln City which is a good return.”

“It is disappointing not to have won but managers, players and supporters get greedy when you’ve been on a good run.”

Former Lincoln skipper Nutter revealed his frustration at full time.

He said: “They’re fighting for their lives but it wasn’t to be.  They made it hard for us but once we got the ball down and started playing we looked the better side.”

“We’ve been on a decent run and we’ve had a draw today which isn’t something we’ve had much this season. Sometimes a point is good to pick up and we’ll see how many points we can now get.”

Bradley Bubb’s spectacular acrobatic was as close as Woking came to finding a winner but Paul Farman was a match with an equally good save.

Good news for the Cards came at the end of the week as Hill secured the services of Billy Knott for a further month from Sunderland.

It is hoped that he will be returning to the action soon following a hamstring injury.

WOKING: Brown, Newton, Cestor, Ricketts, McNerney, Parkinson, Bubb, Betsy, Johnson (McCallum 45mins), Stockley, Nutter.

ATTENDANCE: 1766

Woking 2 Forest Green Rovers 0

JACK PARKINSON thundered in a second-half beauty to lift Cards up to ninth on a night when Garry Hill was quizzed about the vacant manager’s post at former club Dagenham and Redbridge.

Parkinson, usually known for his defensive qualities, rattled home a 79th-minute gem after Kevin Betsy had drilled Woking into a 1-0 lead.

JACK THE LAD - Parkinson celebrates his wonder strike

JACK THE LAD – Parkinson celebrates his wonder strike

And after claiming a sixth win in eight games to gatecrash the top half of the table, Hill moved quickly to assure fans his future lies at Kingfield.

The gaffer said: “Dagenham is a club I have had some great times with and some great memories. All chapters move on in life and I’m very happy with where I am.”

Hill had nothing but praise for his industrious team who ran themselves into the ground to secure back-to-back wins.

He added: “There is a big gulf between part-time and full-time in this league, but if you’ve got heart and if you want it bad enough, it’s surprising how far you can go.”

Full report and pictures in this week’s News & Mail – out Thursday.

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.