Cards travel to league leaders
9:41am, Thu 5th Feb 2015
Barnet v Woking
3pm on Saturday 7 February 2015
The Cards travel to the league leaders on Saturday hoping to repeat their superb performance there last year â€“ and that is the sort of display that will be needed to come away with anything from The Hive this time, where only three sides have emerged victorious in league fixtures this campaign. But Garry Hillâ€™s sideâ€™s morale should be high after a confidence-boosting 3-0 win at home last Saturday against Alfreton Town, the return from injury of Mark Ricketts and Scott Rendell and the re-signing of Aswad Thomas to add to the loan signings of Ross Lafayette, Charles Banya and Yemi Odubade. Make the trip if you can to cheer on the Cards and, if you get there early, you can watch Spurs v Arsenal as a â€˜tasterâ€™ before the real thing!
The Cardsâ€™ comfortable win over Alfreton last Saturday was their first league victory since 2 December but was enough to move them only a point and one place short of the play-off positions, although Woking have played more games than many of the teams around them. Alfreton offered surprisingly little but, even so, there were welcome signs of improvement in Wokingâ€™s play, with Mark Ricketts bringing some defensive solidity to midfield, allowing Josh Payne to play a more expansive attacking role. There were fine performances, too, from, among others, Scott Rendell, Ross Lafayette and Charles Banya.
The trip to Barnet is only the first of some very tough games in the coming weeks, so the Cards cannot afford to experience any more dips in form if they are to sustain a play-off challenge.
The Bees have set the pace all season and, in spite of a brief wobble last month, look set to go up as champions, with a seven-point lead at present over second-placed Bristol Rovers. They started the season with seven wins from their first eight games and, while their subsequent form hasnâ€™t been quite as emphatic, they have nevertheless remained clear front runners. Their only â€˜blipâ€™ in the league came in January when they lost successive games, both away, to Lincoln City and Grimsby Town. At home the Bees were last beaten by Torquay United on 11 November. Barnet havenâ€™t played for a fortnight: their match at Halifax was postponed last weekend. In their last game they responded in the best possible manner to their defeat at Grimsby by beating Southport 4-0, although it took them till the last ten minutes to fully overcome an obdurate Sandgrounders side.
The powerful John Akinde is the leagueâ€™s top scorer with 22 league goals. Other well-known players in a very strong squad include striker and captain Charlie MacDonald, who joined from Oldham in the summer; former Portsmouth defender Bondz Nâ€™Gala; highly experienced keeper/coach Graham Stack; wingers Luisma Villa and Lee Cook, the latter once commanding a Â£2.5m transfer fee; versatile midfielder Mauro Vilhete; striker Jon Nurse, who had a loan spell with Woking in 2006; and defenders Curtis Weston and Andy Yiadom.
Martin Allen has recently strengthened his squad with the signing of experienced striker Michael Gash from Kidderminster Harriers and the loan signing of Southend United midfielder Conor Clifford. Leaving Underhill have been ex-Shot Adam Mekki, now with Dover, and Jamal Lowe, who has joined St Albans City.
The Cards Trust coach leaves Kingfield at 12.30pm. The cost is Â£11 for members and Â£16 for non-members. Phone or email the Club Shop to book your place (01483 772470 or firstname.lastname@example.org).
Head for the M25 westbound, leaving at J19 (direction A41 Watford). Follow A41 for about nine miles before taking A410 (direction Harrow, Stanmore) and then A5 (direction Edgware). At second set of traffic lights after joining, turn right into Camrose Avenue. The AA gives a journey time of about one hour ten minutes from Kingfield. There is parking for 350 cars at the ground at a cost of Â£5.
Canons Park Underground Station on the Jubilee Line is a 5-minute walk from The Hive. Simply turn left out of the station on Whitchurch Lane and after a couple of hundred yards the pedestrian entrance to The Hive will be on your right. Queensbury Underground Station, also on the Jubilee Line, is a 10-minute walk from The Hive. Turn left out the station on to Turner Road. Walk to the end of the road, turn right and the entrance to The Hive will be across the road. Edgware Underground Station on the Northern Line is about a one mile walk to The Hive. You can pick up the Jubilee Line at Waterloo.
Woking fans will be housed in Blocks F and G of the main West Stand, on the left-hand side as you look out over the pitch, and in the North Terrace behind the goal.
North Terrace standing: Adults Â£17, Concessions Â£12, U14s Â£5
West Stand seating: Adults Â£20, Concessions Â£12, U14s Â£5
Gates will open at 1pm but, from 12.30pm, Woking fans will have full use of The Jubilee Bar, situated behind the West Stand with room for up to 100 people. The bar serves a full range of lagers, cider, bitter and stout, as well as wine, spirits and soft drinks. Baguettes and crisps will also be available as snacks.
The bar will be showing the dayâ€™s early kick-off (12.45pm) between Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal, which is being broadcast live on BT Sport.
LAST TIME OUT
Woking 1 Barnet 1
22 November 2014
The Cards went into this game on the back of an excellent televised win at FC Halifax Town but were immediately on the back foot as the Bees launched a swift attack down Wokingâ€™s left, with the unlucky Mike Cestor unable to do more than put Elliot Johnsonâ€™s wicked cross into his own net, with Luisma Villa breathing down his neck.
Woking re-grouped and more than held their own for the rest of the first half in spite of some bruising play from John Akinde. Scott Rendell and James Clarke went closest for the Cards with headers but Lee Cook had an effort cleared off the line for Barnet.
Barnet nearly extended their lead early in the second half in two goalmouth scrambles but Woking upped the pressure and forced an equaliser on the hour mark. A Chris Arthur cross found its way to Scott Rendell, who did well to play the ball back into the path of Mike Cestor, who finished neatly to fittingly compensate for his own goal.
There were strong claims for a penalty from Bees fans as Jake Cole foiled Lee Cook and then Mike Cestor defended brilliantly to block Charlie MacDonaldâ€™s follow-up.
Woking finished the stronger of the two sides, with Martin Allen clearly content to settle for a point.
Woking: Jake Cole, Adam Newton, Mike Cestor, Joe McNerney, James Clarke, Josh Payne, Scott Rendell, Giuseppe Sole (Jack Marriott 73), Kevin Betsy, Theo Lewis (Joey Jones 55), Chris Arthur
Unused Substitutes: Aaron Howe, John Goddard, Dean Morgan
Goal: Mike Cestor 57
Cautions: James Clarke 45, Mike Cestor 90
Barnet: Graham Stack, Elliot Johnson, Bondz Ngala, Dave Stephens, Curtis Weston, John Akinde (Jon Nurse 90), Charlie MacDonald, Lee Cook, Luisma Villa (Bernard Mensah 65), Mauro Vilhete, David Hunt
Unused Substitutes: Jack Saville, Luke Gambin, Adam Mekki
Goal: Mike Cestor (og) 2
Cautions: John Akinde 50, Graham Stack 87
The Cards are away to Kidderminster Harriers on Saturday 14 February. The next home game is on Saturday 21 February when Torquay United are the visitors.
Come on, you Cards!