Brian Caffarey - 23rd January 2009
WOKING v EBBSFLEET UNITED
3pm on Saturday 24 January 2009
The Cards? fight to preserve their BSP status reaches a critical stage over the next week as they take on Ebbsfleet United and Eastbourne United in successive home games and then Northwich Victoria away in a week?s time. The Cards desperately need at least a couple of wins from these games to pull themselves away from the relegation zone.
After the fillip of three home wins (against Grays, Salisbury and Histon) shortly after Phil Gilchrist was given the Manager?s job on a permanent basis, the Cards have stuttered at home, failing to record a win in six league games. The only two wins since then have come at Mansfield on 4 October and at Lewes on 20 December. There have been some very creditable draws in that period, notably at Wrexham and Crawley over the holiday period, but it?s the lack of three point hauls that has kept the Cards in the danger zone.
Prior to last Saturday?s 4-1 defeat at Cambridge United one would have said that the problems lay largely in a goal-shy forward line but the defence too under-performed that day, leaving Phil Gilchrist with another headache. The Cards kept a clean sheet and notched four goals in their midweek victory over Leatherhead in the Surrey Senior Cup but the Tanners did not provide much of a test, if truth be told.
It sounds as if Phil Gilchrist has been trying hard to bring in new faces before the weekend. As it is, he will be a few familiar faces short on Saturday, with Matt Pattison suspended and Danny Bunce and Delano Sam-Yorke injured. He will also be without Daniel Spence, whose loan spell ended at Cambridge. Barring any last-minute additions to the squad, it seems likely that the Cards will line up as against Leatherhead but with Simon Eastwood resuming in goal in place of Nick Gindre and with Joe Magunda possibly returning at right back in place of Michael Kamara, who has now signed a contract till the end of the season. It will be interesting to see too if he continues with the transfer-listed Abdou El Kholti on the left flank instead of Goma Lambu or Giuseppe Sole.
The Fleet have the psychological advantage of being unbeaten in the three games already played between the two sides this season, having drawn 2-2 at Kingfield in the FA Cup before knocking us out 2-0 in the replay at Stonebridge Road: the same scoreline as in the league away encounter.
The Fleet, though, have fallen away quite badly recently, registering only one win in the league in December before suffering successive defeats at the hands of Forest Green Rovers, York, Grays (twice) and Oxford (5-1). But they beat Stalybridge Celtic 2-1 at home in the Trophy on 13 January and got their league form back on track last Saturday with a 1-0 home win over Rushden and Diamonds, with ex-Card Neil Barrett grabbing the crucial goal.
Liam Daish has reinforced his squad with three signings. Defender Leon Crooks and winger Derek Duncan have both joined from Wycombe Wanderers, while striker Tony Judge, formerly with Spurs and Luton, has joined from Sligo Rovers.
Players to look out for in the Ebbsfleet side include Danny Slatter and summer signing, striker Michael Gash, whilst keeper Lance Cronin is very reliable. Stacy Long and Neil Barrett provide plenty of drive in midfield.
We?ve got another excellent programme lined up, including:
? David Taylor on the imperative of preserving the Club?s BSP status
? A profile of Graham Baker, head of the Club?s successful youth development set-up
? Neil Bennett?s charting of the decline of the great Woking side in the 1996-97 season
? Lewis Hulatt?s profile of Goma Lambu
Plus all the usual features, including previews, reports and David Holmes?s excellent photos.
Come on, you Cards!