Woking v Solihull Moors
Vanarama National League
7.45pm on Tuesday 14 February 2017
Garry Hill’s battling Cards side have played well in recent games but had no points to show from their encounters with high-flying Tranmere Rovers and Lincoln City. They now have two crucial home games, starting with Solihull Moors on Tuesday evening. But the Moors are likely to prove difficult opponents, having enjoyed some excellent results in recent weeks. Make a special effort to come down to the Laithwaite Community Stadium, if you can, to cheer on the Cards to a much-needed victory! Entry is FREE for women and children under 14.
The Cards gained plenty of plaudits, but no points, in their battling performance at league leaders Lincoln City on Saturday in their 3-2 defeat. Anything gained at Sincil Bank would have been a bonus but the real test comes in Woking’s next two home games, against Solihull Moors on Tuesday evening and, in a veritable ‘six pointer’, against Southport on Saturday. The target has to be two home wins, but anything less than four points from the two games would be a bitter blow to the Cards’ hopes of escaping the drop.
The position at the bottom of the table has become even tighter after Saturday’s games. Southport and North Ferriby United both lost, but York City and Maidstone United shared the points in their encounter against each other. Woking remain in 19th position but only goal difference (and a game in hand) now separates them from Maidstone and Southport immediately below them, while Guiseley, one point behind, and York and North Ferriby, both three points behind, are too close for comfort. Above Woking, the gap widened to four points with a win for Braintree and a draw for Torquay.
Garry Hill brought in Chris Arthur for Charlie Carter on Saturday, while Max Kretzschmar made quite an impact from the bench, quickly winning a penalty, converted by Fabio Saraiva. The impressive Gozie Ugwu had equalised Lincoln’s opener and had another effort disallowed in the second half.
It sounds as if Brian Saah may not be fit for ten days or so, but Nathan Ralph may be close to a return.
The Moors are the result of a merger in 2007 between Solihull Borough and Moor Green. The club plays at Damson Parkway, which is about a mile north of Solihull town centre.
The Moors came up to the National League as champions of the Conference North last season. Their then manager Marcus Bignot retained a substantial number of his squad from that campaign. The best known was perhaps Andy Brown, an experienced striker who netted 100 goals for AFC Telford and Nuneaton Town before his move to the Moors last summer. Additions included Harry White, a young striker from Barnsley who had loan spells at Kidderminster Harriers and Boreham Wood last season; Jamey Osborne, a highly-rated midfielder from Redditch United; Nathan Vaughan, an experienced keeper from Worcester City; Omari Sterling-James, a goalscoring wide midfielder with recent experience at Cheltenham Town; and Shepherd Murombedzi, a midfielder who had appeared most recently for Torquay United and Hayes and Yeading.
Marcus Bignot moved on to join the management team at Grimsby Town and was replaced in November by Liam McDonald, a young manager who had made a strong impression in his previous roles at Redditch United and Hednesford Town. McDonald was quick to use those connections to bring in four players who were with him at Hednesford: defender Calum Flanagan and midfielders Simeon Maye, Ashley Sammons and George Carline. Other arrivals were midfielder Nortei Norty, whose loan from Wrexham has since been converted into a permanent signing; experienced striker Luke Rodgers; Kristian Green, a defender from Stourbridge; 18-year-old keeper Nathan Baxter from Chelsea, who was a member of the Blues’ FA Youth Cup-winning side last season; central defender Joel Kettle from Rushall Olympic; and Pearson Mwanyongo, a prolific scorer with Gresley United. Two recent loan signings are midfielder Regan Charles-Cook from Charlton Athletic and ex-Chelsea Academy youngster, Oladapo Afolayan, who has been playing for Loughborough Colleges.
There have been a number of departures, including the loss of coveted striker Akwasi Asante and midfielder Jamey Osborne to Bignot at Grimsby Town.
McDonald, who likes to play attacking football, seems to have made a very positive start with the Moors. Notable results have included a holiday double over in-form Chester and a 4-4 draw away at Dagenham and Redbridge in which the Moors twice squandered a two-goal lead. The Moors now sit in 15th position with 40 points from 31 games, four places and ten points ahead of the Cards. On Saturday they beat Sutton United 3-0 at home, with two goals from debutant Regan Charles-Cook and one from fellow debutant Oladapo Afolayan. Away from home the Moors have won four league games, drawn five and lost six, with 16 goals scored and 21 conceded. They have conceded only one goal in their last four games.
Woking Football Club is offering FREE entry to women and under 14s for this game.
All females over 18 will also be admitted free into a draw for a bottle of champagne with their entrance ticket number, so keep hold of the ticket.
Female season ticket holders can collect a red rose on production of their season ticket after the game from the players’ entrance.
Other entry prices are:
Over 65/Students with valid student card £13
U16s - U14s £5
Don’t forget the special Valentine’s Day special offer in the Geoff Chapple Lounge.
LAST TIME OUT
Solihull Moors 2 Woking 2
9 August 2016
If the Cards do end up in the bottom four at the end of the season, this is one of the games – nearly all against sides in the bottom half of the table – which Garry Hill will particularly rue as a missed opportunity. Their first away fixture of the campaign saw the Cards two goals ahead with only twenty minutes remaining but they ended up merely sharing the points and, in the process, perhaps establishing a pattern of poor results away from home.
After a decisive opening day defeat at home to Lincoln City, the Cards were anxious to get off the mark in this game. A slow start didn’t augur well but the Cards survived and gradually grew into the game, taking the lead when Nathan Ralph headed home a Dennon Lewis cross.
The Cards exended their lead shortly after half-time when keeper Lewis seemed to misjudge Zak Ansah’s shot-cum-cross. The Moors piled on the pressure thereafter, with Woking unable to protect their lead as the home side grabbed two late goals.
Woking: Michael Poke, Jake Caprice, Brian Saah, Ismail Yakubu (Charlie Carter 79), Ben Gordon, Dennon Lewis (Fabio Saraiva 70), Keiran Murtagh, Joey Jones, Nathan Ralph, Zak Ansah (Charlie Penny 69), Gozie Ugwu
Unused substitutes: Brandon Hall, Chike Kandi
Scorer: Nathan Ralph 31, Zak Ansah 49
Solihull Moors: Danny Lewis, Jordan Fagbola, Liam Daly, Jordan Gough, Connor Franklin, Shepherd Murombedzi, Jamey Osborne, Ryan Beswick (Darryl Knights 60), Omari Sterling-James, Andy Brown (Harry White 60), Stefan Moore (Akwasi Asante 60)
Unused substitutes: Nathan Vaughan, Bobby Moseley
Scorers: Harry White 73, Jordan Fagbola 80
The Cards next game is a crucial ‘six pointer’ at home to Southport on Saturday 18 February.
Come on, you Cards!