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Big test for Cards on Saturday

Brian Caffarey - 5th October 2017

Big test for Cards on Saturday Woking v Dagenham and Redbridge
Vanarama National League
3pm on Saturday 7 October 2017

Non-League Day coincides with this very attractive fixture between two teams who both like to play pleasing football and score goals. John Still’s Daggers side, now in fourth spot, were promotion contenders this season before a ball was even kicked but Anthony Limbrick’s young, unfancied, Cards have been in excellent form with five wins in the last six games, which has lifted them to third place in the table. This match has all the makings of one of the highlights of the season, so, whether you’re a regular attender or having a break from the Premiership, make every effort to get down to the Laithwaite on Saturday!

WOKING

The Cards earned their third away win of the season at Chester on Tuesday, with the goals coming from the excellent Kane Ferdinand and Jamie Philpot, registering his third goal in as many games.

The Cards, playing some fine football, dominated the first half hour or so, taking the lead through a Ferdinand header in 11 minutes, before making the game safe in a more even second half when Philpot capitalised on a poor back pass in the 71st minute.

Josh Staunton, a summer signing from the Daggers, will no doubt be particularly looking forward to this game. Josh has looked increasingly influential in the Cards’ defence and it’s not hard to see why John Still was sorry to lose him.

Richard Orlu made it to the bench on Tuesday. Joey Jones is, presumably, close to a return. Jason Banton is still expected to be missing on Saturday, as will be Louis Ramsay.

DAGENHAM AND REDBRIDGE

Last season, following their relegation from League 2, the Daggers finished in fourth place but lost 3-1 on aggregate to Forest Green Rovers in the semi-final play-offs.

The Daggers had a promising start to this season, winning four and drawing four of their opening eight games. A trip to Hartlepool on 9 September brought their first defeat, followed by a second at home at the hands of Sutton United. But they returned to winning ways with victory at home against FC Halifax before drawing away at Solihull Moors. Last Saturday the Daggers won at home against bottom-of-the-table Torquay United but only did so thanks to a last-minute penalty. On Tuesday they gained a 1-1 draw at Aldershot Town, who were reduced to ten men after an hour, but were again indebted to a late goal, this time from defender Sam Ling in the 86th minute.

Elliot Justham was the Daggers’ usual keeper, one of a number of players reflecting John Still’s time as Luton Town manager, but Martin Cousins, formerly with Colchester United, has figured recently. Scott Doe and Craig Robson remain as a centre back partnership from last season. Doe has made over 300 appearances for the Daggers and, like midfielder Luke Howell, was re-signed by Still from Boreham Wood in summer 2016, having been released a year earlier. Three defensive additions this summer were Bondz NGala, Ben Nunn and Kevin Lokko. NGala is best known for his time at Barnet, where he made over 100 appearances, following Martin Allen to Eastleigh in November 2016, only to make an abortive move to Gillingham two months later, joining Dover Athletic instead when the Gills belatedly realised that Football League rules prohibited the move. Nunn is also very experienced, having made over 150 appearances for Boreham Wood, whom he joined in the 2012-13 season. Lokko signed for Stevenage from Maidstone United but, oddly, was then sent on a season-long loan to Dagenham. Other defensive options include Sam Ling, a 20-year-old who came through Leyton Orient’s youth set-up, and Luke Pennell, who was signed from Dunstable Town but who missed most of last season following an operation.

In midfield, in addition to Luke Howell, players remaining from last season include Andre Boucaud, Jake Howells and Matt Robinson. Boucaud is highly experienced, having played for a number of League clubs, including two seasons at Notts County prior to joining the Daggers. He also has over 30 caps for Trinidad and Tobago. Howells made over 330 appearances for Luton before joining Eastleigh in summer 2015 and then the Daggers in January this year. Robinson is familiar to Woking fans from his loan spell at Kingfield in the 2015-16 season but was part of Luton’s Conference-winning squad before re-joining Still in summer 2016 at Dagenham. New midfield signings in the summer were wide man Dan Sparkes, joining from Torquay United and previously at Braintree and Histon; Charlee Adams, a 22-year-old from Birmingham City, who has also had loan spells with Lincoln City and Kilmarnock; and Nicholas Wheeler, a winger who impressed in pre-season games, having played for Tonbridge Angels and previously Lewes.

The Daggers have an impressive strike force in spite of having lost Oliver Hawkins in the summer on his move to Portsmouth and allowing Paul Benson to move on to Boreham Wood. Top scorer Corey Whiteley has been in great form. He signed for the Daggers in summer 2016 from Enfield Town, where he had scored 44 goals in two seasons, and was Dagenham’s ‘player of the season’ last year. He has already notched eight goals this term. Fejiri Okenabirhie is also a major threat. He signed from Harrow Borough in summer 2016, having started his career with Arsenal before a move to Stevenage. Elliot Romain was signed from Eastbourne Borough towards the end of last season for an undisclosed fee, having scored 20 goals for the Sports.

In the summer Still added Morgan Ferrier, who signed after a season at Boreham Wood, having joined them from Hemel Hempstead Town, and Michael Cheek, a prolific scorer for Chelmsford City and Braintree Town. Other youthful options are Mason Bloomfield, an Academy graduate re-signed in March, and Joe White. A more recent, surprising, addition is Chike Kandi, signed for an undisclosed fee from Leatherhead, whom he joined in the summer after playing intermittently for Woking last season. Clearly, Still sees more potential in Kandi than Garry Hill did!

Four of the Daggers’ squad were recently called up for England C training days: Sam Ling, Morgan Ferrier, Matt Robinson and Fejiri Okenabirhie. They join the Cards’ Josh Staunton and Joe Ward.

ADMISSION PRICES

Adults £18
Over 65s £13
Disabled (Including carer) £13
Students (U19) £5
U16s £5

As part of Non-League Day the holders of season tickets for Premiership, Championship and Football League clubs can watch the game for only £10 on production of their season tickets.

Woking season ticket holders have the chance to sample the delights of the Geoff Chapple Lounge for only £36. See the website for details.

MATCHDAY PROGRAMME

Don’t forget to grab a copy of ‘Cardinals’. Only £3 for interviews, previews, match reports, Academy updates and great photos. Saturday’s edition features an interview with Jason Banton.

LAST TIME OUT

Dagenham and Redbridge 1 Woking 1
Vanarama National League
29 April 2017

This, the last game of the season, will always be remembered by Woking fans for two reasons: the point gained ensured the Cards’ National League survival and it turned out to be Garry Hill’s and Steve Thompson’s last match in charge.

The Cards went into this game in a better position than many fans had feared a few weeks previously. A point was needed or one of York City, Guiseley or Torquay United – all playing at home – had to drop a point. If all three of those clubs had won and Woking had lost, the Cards would have been relegated on goal difference. As it turned out, both York and Guiseley failed to win their games, so the Cards would have been safe anyway even if they had not secured a draw at Dagenham.

That was not known, of course, by Woking fans, whose nerves jangled at kick-off. News that York had conceded an early goal helped, as did the Cards taking the lead through a Max Kretzschmar free-kick in the 12th minute. Woking had the better of most of the first half as they successfully harried and tackled in midfield. But they had a let-off after the break when Elliot Romain missed with a free header.

Cards’ fans’ nerves jangled again when the Daggers equalised in the 83rd minute, Scott Heard seizing on a clearance to fire in an effort which Michael Poke could only help on its way into the net. There was a final anxious moment when another free header went wide before the full-time whistle produced jubilation for all the away fans.

Dagenham and Redbridge: Mark Cousins, Matt Robinson, Luke Howell, Frankie Raymond, Elliot Romain, Luke Guttridge (Paul Benson 63), Fejiri Okenabirhie (Shaun Donnellan 63), Luke Pennell, Sam Ling, Jake Howells (Scott Heard 63), Josh Staunton

Unused substitutes: Elliot Justham, Mason Bloomfield

Scorer: Scott Heard 83

Woking: Michael Poke, Jake Caprice (Dennon Lewis 90), Terell Thomas, Joey Jones, Brian Saah, Nathan Ralph, Kane Ferdinand, Keiran Murtagh, Max Kretzschmar (Fabio Saraiva 76), Delano Sam-Yorke, Gozie Ugwu (Jamie Lucas 87)

Unused substitutes: Brandon Hall, Connor Hall

Goal: Max Kretzschmar 12

Attendance: 1860 (491 from Woking) 

COMING UP

The Cards have been drawn at home to Concord Rangers of the National League South in the 4th Qualifying Round of the FA Cup on Saturday 14 October: a match Anthony Limbrick will be very keen to win, given the prospect of a lucrative First Round Proper tie. The return to National League action on Saturday 21 October sees the Cards travel to Neil Smith’s Bromley and then Dover Athletic on Tuesday 24 October. The Cards Trust plans to run a coach to Bromley: book your place on Saturday. The next home league game is against Guiseley on Saturday 28 October.

Come on, you Cards!


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