STRAIGHT-talking Woking FC boss Garry Hill didn’t make any excuses for his side’s dire second half performance against Maidstone United last Saturday (25 March ’17), writes Andy Fitzsimons.
Clichés went out of the window for Hill – one of the English games longest serving managers – who said that his side simply ‘collapsed’ after they threw away a two-goal lead.
For some fans, The Cards’ second half showing was an evisceration; and one of the worst second half displays from a Woking side in recent memory.
The defeat again leaves Hill’s side sitting precariously above drop-zone. And with Sutton United visiting The Laithwaite Community Stadium this Saturday (1 April), The Cards need to get their house in order, and fast, to fend off the chasing pack.
By any omission, this season has tested Hill’s managerial credentials and staying power to the max – and will undoubtedly go down as one of the most stressful and impoverished seasons he has known in 25 years of football management.
And with only six hours of competitive football remaining before the end of the National League season, Hill can only but wonder what more he and assistant Steve Thompson can do to influence what goes on, on the field.
Speaking after the 4-2 defeat at home to The Stones last Saturday, Hill said: “We collapsed against Maidstone. It was disappointing to see as supporter, as a manager and as a football club.
“When you consider what’s at stake – and the manner in which we collapsed against Maidstone – it’s very disappointing.
“We didn’t defend well at all, and I’m afraid to say that my players couldn’t handle it; they melted. There’s no point making excuses in football.
“When I think back to their [Maidstone United] third goal – and I watched the ball drop out of the sky unchallenged; all because someone was frightened of hurting their head – that tells you a lot,” he added.
Hill pulled no punches about his players’ commitment to the cause; questioning, albeit indirectly, whether or not some have the aptitude to be winners when it really matters.
“When you’re 2-0 up – as we were against Maidstone – it was a massive opportunity to make a real impression on the teams around us. But if you’re not able to; or prepared to do the basics properly and put your body on the line for your teammates and the football club that pays your wages, that’s not acceptable.
“All credit to Maidstone, while it wasn’t a world-beating comeback, they had nothing to lose. They played 4-3-3 and were bold and brave.
“We do need to take a look at ourselves and in the manner of how we lost last Saturday. Prior to that, we had kept three consecutive clean sheets at home, so to lose 4-2 when we were 2-0 up was very disappointing.
“All the games coming up are tough games. We’ve got to make sure that we have a team now that is prepared properly to go out on Saturday and get a result,” he blasted.
Irrespective of whether Woking survive the drop or not, some fans believe that Hill will walk if the Woking board are not able to increase the playing budget for next season.
And with Hill’s contract up in the summer, the temptation to be lured from The Laithwaite Community Stadium could well become a reality if the financial terms aren’t right, both on and off the pitch.