Brian Caffarey - 21st December 2007
I spoke to Frank Gray yesterday evening to get an update before this Saturday?s Setanta Shield game at home to Stevenage Borough. Frank, happily, has recovered from the bug that affected the squad last week but he said that Bradley Quamina has been ill subsequently and that one or two others haven?t entirely shaken off the symptoms.
Hemel Hempstead Town
We touched first on last Saturday?s victory over Hemel Hempstead Town in the FA Trophy. I asked Frank if he had been disappointed that we had not won more convincingly, given the chances we created. ?No?, replied Frank. ?I was just pleased to get through safely. That always has to be the main aim in games like last Saturday?s. Oxford United?s defeat midweek away at Tonbridge Angels shows that you can never take these things for granted. Ideally, of course, it would have been nice to have won 3-0 or 4-0 but I thought we handled the game well. We kept a clean sheet once more in spite of coming under pressure at various points.? I mentioned the chances that fell to Liam Marum and asked whether Liam?s relative lack of match practice this season had anything to do with the fact that he failed to get on target. However, Frank didn?t think this was the explanation: ?It was just one of those things?, he said. ?On another day, or in training, Liam would probably have put two or three of those chances away.?
We turned to Joe Gatting?s loan spell, which has now ended. I said that, as Frank was no doubt aware, a number of fans had been disappointed (to use a neutral word!) with Joe?s impact during his three months with us. How did Frank assess his contribution? ?Of course, fans are entitled to their views?, Frank responded, ?but I don?t agree with them. I thought that he made a good contribution. He was the only player at the Club at the time who could fulfil the role that he played in holding the ball up and bringing other players into the game. Of course, it would have been nice if he had chipped in with more goals but there were other aspects to his game which were important for us.?
I asked Frank to clarify Dean Lovegrove?s position at the Club. (Dean was on the bench in the games against Croydon and Hemel Hempstead Town.) Frank explained that Dean trains with the squad every day but isn?t formally part of the first team squad, in the sense that, unlike Izzy Harusha, he hasn?t been given a squad number. Dean also plays for Worthing.
We turned next to the transfer window. I noted that Peter Taylor was already telling Stevenage fans that he had identified four players whom he would be trying to bring to Broadhall Way. Was Frank similarly clear about his intentions? ?We have a number of players in mind?, he said, ?but we?ll have to see how things pan out. Obviously, as I?ve said before, bringing in another forward, now that Joe Gatting has gone, is a high priority. But I also have to take account of the situation regarding Kevin James. I hope to keep Kevin but, understandably, he wants to keep his options open.? I asked Frank if he expected to lose any players. ?I hope not but you don?t know who might come in with an offer ? in which case we would clearly have to consider the position, taking a view on what is best for the Club and the player. But I?m not aware of any likely approaches at present and am not expecting to lose anyone.?
Saturday?s Setanta Shield tie v Stevenage Borough
Frank confirmed that no-one is suspended for Saturday?s game, so Marvin Morgan and Matt Pattison can both be added to the players who were available last Saturday. But he drew attention to the fact that three players are on four bookings: Giuseppe Sole, Paul Lorraine and Jay Gasson. He pointed out that if any of them were booked on Saturday their suspension would kick in during the holiday period, whereas a booking during the holiday period would not be activated until after the holiday games. Frank made it clear that, because of this, he did not envisage playing all three players on Saturday, although all three might well be among the 16 named. There appeared to be no injury worries, however.
Frank confirmed that he viewed the Setanta Shield as an important competition. ?It?s one we want to win?, he said. ?It?s got a much higher profile than previous competitions, with games being played on Saturdays, TV coverage and substantial prize money for clubs making it through to the later rounds. We?re on a decent run at the moment and winning breeds confidence, so we?ll want to continue that good run.? He thought that Stevenage, especially after their Trophy defeat by Dorchester Town, would also take the tie seriously ? and the Setanta Shield rules regarding the make-up of teams would ensure that both clubs would have to field strong sides ? not that the size of Woking?s squad gave them much opportunity to do otherwise!
Frank ended by asking me to pass on his best wishes to fans for a happy Christmas. ?I?d like to thank fans for their excellent support so far this season and very much hope that they will continue to get behind us in 2008. I hope that all fans and their families have a splendid Christmas and a happy New Year.?
21 December 2007