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Cards in key play-off battle

Brian Caffarey - 25th March 2011

Cards in key play-off battle Eastleigh v Woking
3pm on Saturday 26 March 2011

The Cards travel to Eastleigh tomorrow for another crucial game in their quest for a play-off place. A win for Garry Hill’s side would be a huge boost, while dealing a big blow to the Spitfires’ own challenge. Avoiding defeat is the minimum requirement. But the Cards will have to do it without Kieran Murtagh, recalled this week to Wycombe Wanderers.

WOKING

The Cards have now won eleven and drawn one of their last 12 league games. It’s amazing that, in spite of this run, they are still only in 5th place in the table – which just demonstrates how much ground they’ve had to make up to get properly in the race. That race was made even more interesting this week with Braintree’s shock defeat at Lewes: a result which leaves the Cards only eight points adrift of top spot, although Steve King’s Farnborough look best placed to benefit if Braintree continue to stumble towards the finishing tape.

Cards fans will be hoping that Aswad Thomas has recovered sufficiently from his poisoned elbow to resume his left-back role. The assumption is that Andy Burgess will step into Kieran Murtagh’s shoes in midfield but there is no doubt that the Wycombe midfielder will be sorely missed: his skills on the ball, ability to ghost past players and his eye for goal have lit up the Cards’ recent run.

EASTLEIGH

The Spitfires finished last season in a disappointing 11th position despite scoring more goals than any other BSS outfit.

Eastleigh’s recent surge towards the play-off places this season suffered a setback in their last two games with a 0-0 draw at Dartford and, more particularly, a 4-1 home defeat last Saturday at the hands of play-off rivals Welling United. The Spitfires’ recent results, working back from the Welling defeat, have been:

Eastleigh 1 Welling United 4
Dartford 0 Eastleigh 0
Bishop’s Stortford 0 Eastleigh 1
Eastleigh 1 Bromley 0
Eastleigh 2 Chelmsford City 1

Ex-Card Jamie Slabber has been in good form this season for Eastleigh and is their top scorer with 14 goals. Their striking options have recently been strengthened with the addition on loan of Mark Nwokeji from AFC Wimbledon, who, Cards fans will remember, scored for the Dons in our FA Trophy win. Richard Gillespie has already netted twice against us this season. Captain Tom Jordan is always a threat at set pieces, and the Cards defence will no doubt have work to do in coping with long throws.

GETTING THERE

Silverlake Stadium
Ten Acres
Stoneham Lane
Eastleigh
Hampshire
SO50 9HT
Tel. 023 8061 3361
Website: www.eastleigh-fc.co.uk

By coach
Leaves 12.30pm; £11 members, £16 non-members. Please note that fans parking at the Club should use the rear car park since the main car park has been reserved for those attending an event at the Club.

By car
Take the M3 to J13. Turn right into Leigh Road. Go on till the crossroads and turn right at lights into Passfield Avenue. Go past Fleming Park Sports Centre on right. At the roundabout take second exit; at the next take the first exit; go past Concorde Club. Take the first turning right into Stoneham Lane and the ground is 100 yards on left-hand side. There are 500 “free parking" spaces at the ground.

By train
Both Southampton Airport Parkway and Eastleigh stations are about a 20-minute walk from the ground. The 13.00 train from Woking gets into Southampton Airport Parkway at 13.41, while the 13.16 arrives at 14.13 via a change at Basingstoke. The 13.35 from Woking arrives at Eastleigh at 14.27.

PREVIOUS ENCOUNTERS

This season
Woking 3 Eastleigh 2
FA Cup 4th Qualifying Round
23 October 2010

This game was preceded by a minute’s applause for Colin Lippiatt, and the Cards produced a fighting performance of which Colin would have been proud. Woking entered this tie low on confidence after a poor run, which included three successive league defeats, and the omens weren’t good when Richard Gillespie curled a shot past Andy Little in the 2nd minute. And they could easily have gone two-nil down when a shot hit the post and then rolled all the way along the goal line before being cleared. But Moses Ademola inspired a fight-back. Jerome Maledon equalised on the half-hour mark with a mis-hit shot and then Moses played in Craig Faulconbridge at the far post to give the Cards a 2-1 lead. Jamie Slabber quickly evened things up in the second half before Elvis Hammond, making his home debut, grabbed the winner, expertly lifting the ball over the Spitfires’ keeper.

Woking 1 Eastleigh 1
23 November 2010

Exactly a month later the two teams did battle again in the league. Woking dominated the first half, with Lee Sawyer pulling the strings in midfield, but owed their 1-0 half-time lead to an own goal from Tom Jordan, who deflected Aswad Thomas’s cross past his own keeper shortly before the break. It was a different story in the second half, with Richard Gillespie equalising quickly for Eastleigh and with the Cards having to rely on some superb goalkeeping from Andy Little to preserve a point.

Last season
Woking 0 Eastleigh 0
31 August 2009

An obdurate Eastleigh side thwarted Woking as Graham Baker’s side sought a third consecutive win on a balmy summer’s afternoon. Moses Ademola shone in the first half but it was his replacement, Luke Medley, who slotted the ball home, only to see his ‘goal’ disallowed. Craig Watkins got the MOTM award.

Eastleigh 0 Woking 2
5 April 2010

The Cards significantly boosted their play-off chances with their fourth win in five games. Gez Sole opened the scoring four minutes before half-time, with Nathaniel Pinney, playing his last game for the Cards, scoring from the penalty spot in the second half as the Spitfires went down to nine men.


Come on, you Cards!

P.S. Don’t forget that the Cards are at home to another play-off rival, Welling United, next Saturday. Look out too for the launch of the Boost the Budget scheme!

If you’re not travelling to Eastleigh, why not pop down to Kingfield and see the reserves play Sutton United in the Suburban League? Admission is only £4 for adults and £2 for concessions.
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