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WOKING v OXFORD UNITED

Brian Caffarey - 17th April 2008

WOKING v OXFORD UNITED
3pm on Saturday 19 April 2008

Only two more home league games to go! And to remind you of old times we might just see the former pairing of Justin Richards and Craig McAllister returning to Kingfield for this encounter, both having pitched up at the Kassam Stadium on loan. At the beginning of the season you?d have expected United to be visiting us with at least a play-off place in the bag but it?s been a very disappointing campaign for them as they?ve slogged it out in mid-table. Jim Smith was ?elevated? to the Board and Darren Patterson has had a bit more joy recently but it?s all about next season now. The same goes for us, of course!

WOKING

Hopefully, everyone has now come to terms with the departure of Frank Gray and Gerry Murphy, and players and fans can now concentrate on the future. The fans? forum on Tuesday evening was helpful in allowing fans to air their views and in providing an opportunity for the Club management to provide some candid explanations.

Both David Taylor and Colin Lippiatt have emphasised their desire to finish the season on a strong note on the playing front, so with all fear of relegation removed, let?s hope that the team can follow up their controversial (but deserved) three points at York with a fine, attacking performance against Oxford United.

I spoke to Colin Lippiatt this (Friday) morning for an update. Colin expects to have a full squad of players to choose from for tomorrow?s game. Colin paid tribute to physiotherapist Steve Snelling?s work this season. ?It?s quite incredible?, he said, ?how few injuries we?ve had this season, especially when you consider what a small squad we?ve had. Steve?s done a great job.?

Colin says that he will ?tinker? a bit tomorrow but doesn?t see any need to make major changes in the light of the performance at York. He sees tomorrow?s game as a very attractive fixture: ?Oxford are one of the ?in form? teams at present. They will come here with nothing to lose and for us too it?s a great opportunity to put on a good performance in front of our home fans. I?m looking to the team to play some nice passing football, to express themselves and to play with pride and passion. I hope that the fans will get fully behind the team.?

Colin confirmed that he was still to have talks with Goma Lambu, Adam Green, Jason Norville and Damian Batt about their futures. These discussions will take place by the end of next week.

OXFORD SQUAD

After the disappointment of missing out on promotion last season, having looked certain champions earlier in the campaign, Jim Smith released a number of players, including long-time favourite Steve Basham, now with Exeter City, Andy Burgess, who switched to Rushden and Diamonds, and Rufus Brevett. There was the usual influx of new faces, most of whom were subsequently jettisoned after Darren Patterson took over in early November. Those remaining include midfielder Phil Trainer, signed from Moor Green. Patterson put six players on the transfer list: Carl Pettefer, Eddie Hutchison (twin brother of our Tom, of course), Alex Jeannin (now with Kidderminster), Rob Duffy (who went to Wrexham), Michael Corcoran (left by mutual consent) and Matt Day. More recently Yemi Odubade, an exciting winger who was fans? ?player of the year? last season, and summer signing Joel Ledgister (now on loan at Hayes and Yeading) were added to the list. It would be a surprise, though, if Odubade isn?t retained, given recent performances.

The new arrivals on loan include our former Woking pair of Justin Richards (from Kidderminster), Craig McAllister (Grays via Rushden), defender Michael Howard (Morecambe), in-form striker Matt Green (Cardiff), wing-back Michael Blackwood (Kidderminster) and midfielder Jamie Hand (Lincoln). Existing hands include fine keeper Billy Turley, winger Eddie Anaclet and skipper Barry Quinn.

Darren Patterson has said that he plans to field those players on the transfer list ? no doubt so that they can either convince him that they should be retained after all or to put themselves in the ?shop window? for a move.

SEASON SO FAR

August saw United get off to a good start with home wins over Forest Green Rovers and Stafford Rangers, an away victory at Burton Albion and a draw at Stevenage Borough. Cambridge United inflicted the only defeat, at the Abbey Stadium. But form thereafter, while not poor, was below play-off standard. Darren Patterson?s record was even worse to begin with, guiding them to only two wins in all competitions in December and January. But they?ve recorded six wins in their last eight league outings. Oxford currently sit in 13th place in the table with 62 points from 43 games. It has not been a good season in the cups either, with early exits to Tonbridge and Aldershot in the FA Trophy and Setanta Shield and a first round replay defeat by Southend in the FA Cup. Oxford won 1-0 away to a weakened (!) York City side midweek. Justin Richards and Craig McAllister both came on as substitutes.

PREVIOUS ENCOUNTERS

Our heroic 0-0 draw at the Kassam Stadium on Boxing Day 2006, in front of a Conference record crowd of 11,065, was a classic ?backs to the wall? display in true Glenn Cockerill style. Even more vital was our 1-0 victory in the return encounter a few weeks later. Neil Smith headed the Cards in front in the 12th minute but Yemi Odubade ? as he had done at the Kassam Stadium ? proceeded to torment the Woking defence, in which Karl Murray, playing out of position, shone. Somehow or other the Cards held on for three invaluable points.

This season ? after heroics at Stevenage and a miserable home display against York ? we continued the sequence with a superb performance at the Kassam, which should really have netted us all three points rather than another 0-0 draw. We had enough chances in the first five minutes, hitting the woodwork twice, to have wrapped the game up but failed to take them and Marvin and Joe Gatting then contrived to get in each other?s way to miss a glorious opportunity just before half-time.

Come on, you Cards!

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