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WOKING v NORTHWICH VICTORIA

Brian Caffarey - 22nd February 2008

WOKING v NORTHWICH VICTORIA (UNDER 16s FREE ENTRY!)
3pm on Saturday 23 February 2008

Frank Gray?s side will be looking to get decisively back on track on Saturday against the lowly Vics after the surprisingly comprehensive defeat at Farsley Celtic last weekend ended a seven-game unbeaten run in all competitions. Frank will want to finish the season strongly, as a platform for the next campaign, and will also be looking for silverware in the Setanta Shield and Surrey Senior Cup competitions. He has hinted at some changes on Saturday: Cards fans will be hoping that the team can recapture the stunning form they showed in their last home league game against Burton Albion. But Dino Maamria?s Vics haven?t abandoned hopes of avoiding relegation and won?t just roll over. Whatever your age, head on down to Kingfield and get behind the team!

WOKING

Assuming they are fit, we can expect to see Jay Gasson and Bradley Quamina restored to the starting eleven on Saturday. With Paul Lorraine suspended, the right back berth looks to be a choice between Damian Batt, with attacking instincts, and the more defensive Matt Ruby. Gez Sole seems likely to start in left midfield in an attacking formation, with Marvin Morgan and Jason Norville up front.

VICS SQUAD

The warning signs for Vics fans were apparent in the summer when some key players left, including defender Kieran Charnock, who was snapped up by Peterborough on a three year deal, and Paul Brayson and Stuart Elliott, who both signed for York City. The trouble was compounded when some of Neil Redfearn?s recruits didn?t come up to scratch: indeed, he transfer-listed three of them before he resigned only nine games into the season. Paul Warhurst took over the reins briefly before Dino Maamria, a summer signing, was appointed: his position was made permanent in mid-December. Ex-Liverpool midfielder Mike Marsh, who was a member of Conference-winning sides at Kidderminster and Boston, has joined him as first team coach.

Maamria, a familiar figure from his days at Stevenage and elsewhere, wasted no time in making changes in personnel. Two early signings were those of keeper Scott Tynan and winger Danny Williams, both of whom played with Maamria at Rushden. Other new arrivals have included Lucas Akins, an 18 year-old striker on loan from Huddersfield; Danny Meadowcroft, a 22 year-old defender previously with Morecambe; Michael Roddy, 19, a midfielder from Lincoln City; Cortez Belle, a 6?4? defender formerly with Chester and Halifax; Matty Crowell, a midfielder from Wrexham; winger Jamie Mullan, a former Manchester United youngster most recently with Rochdale; forward Keith Barker, a 6?2? forwards from St Patrick?s Athletic; and two recruits from FC United, the pacy Aaron Burns and fellow striker Cayne Hanley.

Other arrivals in the summer included 33 year-old striker Lee Steele, returning to the club from which he launched his League career; Michael Coulson, a 19 year-old striker on loan from Barnsley; Michael Welch, a defender released by Accrington Stanley; and Jake Speight, a 21 year-old striker from Bury who previously played with Redfearn at Scarborough. Player to watch, though, is talented midfielder Michael Byrne.

Departures have included Kevin Townson, Richard Battersby, Paul Tait and Brad Maylett.

SEASON SO FAR

The season started disastrously for the Vics, with 17 defeats and 3 draws in the league before they secured their first win on 24 November, 1-0 at home to Rushden and Diamonds. Further wins have come against Oxford United at home and Altrincham away. The Vics currently sit in 23rdplace in the league, 12 points from safety. Their away record reads: Won 1, Drawn 2, Lost 12. The Vics lost away to Oxford United in the 4th Qualifying Round of the FA Cup and exited at the first hurdle in the Trophy, but they are in the Northern Quarter-Finals of the Setanta Shield, where they will be at home to Kidderminster or Rushden, so we might see them again before the season is out.

PREVIOUS ENCOUNTERS

Overall, we have lost four times, drawn twice and won eight times away to the Vics in the Conference ? our best return against any Conference rival. Last season, the Vics? first season back in the Conference following their one-year sojourn in the Conference North, we kept up our good record with two victories. Almost exactly a year ago we won 2-0 at the Victoria Stadium. Craig McAllister scored from the spot in the first half after Ollie Berquez had been fouled and then, near the end, Danny Bunce netted from a free-kick with the aid of a deflection. That win moved us up to fifth place in the table but the return game, the last of the season, saw us happy to have escaped relegation. Liam Marum gave the Cards the lead before Michael Byrne equalized with a penalty. After the break, headers from Tom Hutchinson and Neil Smith produced a two-goal lead before a superb Townsend free-kick made it 3-2 just before the final whistle.

The Cards beat the Vics 3-1 at the Victoria Stadium on 1 October. Matt Pattison gave us an early lead after he had charged down the keeper?s clearance and Joe Gatting doubled it when heading home superbly from a Goma Lambu cross. The Vics fought back in the second half but the on-loan Paul Hakim made it 3-0 with six minutes to go. Ryan Brown scored a consolation goal for the Vics with a cross-cum-shot in injury time.

Come on, you Cards!

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