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Saturday's six-pointer

Brian Caffarey - 15th February 2017

Saturday's six-pointer Woking v Southport
Vanarama National League
3pm on Saturday 18 February 2017

Please make every effort to come down to the Laithwaite Community Stadium on Saturday to support the Cards in this vital ‘six pointer’ against Southport, who lie only two places and three points behind Woking. Garry Hill’s side battled their way to three points on Tuesday evening against Solihull Moors but a win against a fellow ‘struggler’ would be a particularly valuable boost in the fight to avoid relegation. Come down early and watch the Burnley v Lincoln City tie in the Cardinals Bar, which will be open from 12 noon.

WOKING

It was a hard-fought win on Tuesday evening against a very competent Solihull Moors side, whose pace up front caused some anxious moments for the home rearguard, especially in a nerve-wracking climax which brought some terrific saves from Michael Poke and some admirable last-ditch defending. It was relief all round for the Woking management team, the players and fans when the referee blew the final whistle to cement a 2-1 victory.

Garry Hill had made only one change from the line-up at Lincoln City, with Nathan Ralph coming in to replace Chris Arthur at left wingback. Chris wasn’t even on the bench, so was presumably injured. The Cards took an early lead through Terell Thomas but were pegged back in the second half as the Moors applied a good deal of pressure. But, far from deflating the side, the equaliser seemed to cause them to ‘up’ their game, aided by the fresh legs of Charlie Carter and Connor Hall. Once again, the Cards were indebted to Fabio Saraiva for netting the crucial second goal, but the whole team gave their all on a tiring pitch.

The win kept the Cards in 19th place, now with 33 points. Guiseley’s injury-time winner over Sutton United moved them up to 20th place, still one point behind Woking. Maidstone United and Southport are both on 30 points, while York City and North Ferriby United both have 27 points, with York having a game in hand on all the clubs around them.

SOUTHPORT

Southport, like Woking, have struggled all season. Like the Cards, too, the main problem has been their away record, which is identical to Woking’s: three wins, two draws and 11 defeats. Both sides have conceded 36 goals on the road, but Southport have only netted 12 goals in comparison with Woking’s 20.

A more notable difference is that Southport are now on their third manager of the season, Andy Preece having been handed the reins after Steve Burr’s dismissal – which a number of Port fans felt was premature. Burr succeeded Andy Bishop. It says something about both clubs that during Garry Hill’s six years and more at Kingfield Southport have gone through ten managers.

Last Saturday, in Preece’s first game in charge, Southport suffered their fifth straight defeat, going down 4-1 at home to Dagenham and Redbridge. By all accounts they played well for the first half hour, taking the lead, before defensive errors allowed the Daggers to score three times before the interval.

Andy Bishop sought to strengthen the squad in the summer. Those arrivals who still remain include John Cofie, who was with AFC Telford last season but who was the subject of a £1m transfer from Burnley to Manchester United as a 14-year-old; experienced midfielder Ashley Grimes, another recruit from Barrow; and defender Neil Ashton, yet another Barrow recruit but who played over 200 times for Wrexham. Top scorer Louis Almond and captain Gary Jones re-signed but Almond left to join Tranmere Rovers for an undisclosed fee in September and Jones is now on a season-long loan at Altrincham.

Burr’s reign saw a number of further additions, including Robbie Cundy, a 19-year-old central defender on loan from Oxford United; Delial Brewster, a 19-year-old forward from Everton; Aaron Jones, a central defender most recently playing in Norway; Magnus Norman, first choice keeper on loan from Fulham (former Card Mason Springthorpe deputised for him in the Port’s last game); Jack Higgins, a defender on a season-long loan from York City; and Euan Murray, a defender from Barrow. Preece was hoping to bring in some new faces before the Woking game. (Later: Preece has added French midfielder, Kevin Da Veiga Monteiro from Welsh side Airbus and winger/striker Lindon Meikle on loan from Barrow.)

ADMISSION PRICES

Adults £18
Over 65/Students with valid student card £13
U16s £5

LAST TIME OUT

Southport 2 Woking 1
13 August 2016

The Cards travelled to this match following the disappointment of only drawing midweek at Solihull Moors, squandering a two-goal lead in the last 20 minutes. That, in turn, followed a decisive opening day defeat at home to Lincoln City. Southport, for their part, had lost both their opening games by a three-goal margin.

Once again, Woking travelled back at the end of the evening rueing dropped points. They had the better of the first half, taking the lead through a fine strike by Dennon Lewis in the 13th minute. However, a clumsy challenge by Keiran Murtagh five minutes later allowed Louis Almond to equalise from the spot. It was still 1-1 at the break, Gozie Ugwu having spurned a couple of good chances in the closing stages.

Southport came more into the game in the second half but it looked as though the Cards would share the points until, two minutes from time, player/manager Andy Bishop teed up Almond for a precise finish.

Southport: Ty Belford, Andrai Jones, Neil Ashton, Liam Nolan, Josh Thompson, Ross White, James Caton (Keil O’Brien 90), Gary Jones ©, James Gray (Andy Bishop 67), Louis Almond, Jamie Allen (Ashley Grimes 74)

Subs not used: Ryan Crump, Connor McCarthy

Goals: Louis Almond (18, 88)

Woking: Michael Poke, Jake Caprice, Ben Gordon (Charlie Penny 61), Joey Jones, Brian Saah, Keiran Murtagh ©, Gozie Ugwu (Chike Kandi 74), Zak Ansah (Anthony Edgar 82), Nathan Ralph, Fabio Saraiva, Dennon Lewis

Subs not used: Charlie Carter, Brandon Hall

Goals: Dennon Lewis (13)

Attendance: 702

COMING UP

The Cards’ next home game is on Tuesday evening (21 February) when they entertain Knaphill in the Quarter-Final of the Surrey Senior Cup. In the National League, Garry Hill’s side continue their run of tough away fixtures when they travel to Forest Green Rovers the following Saturday (25 February). Their next home game is on Tuesday 28 February when they entertain another top side, Dover Athletic.


Come on, you Cards!


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