3:00pm - SaturdaySat 23rd JanuaryJan 2021
The Laithwaite Community Stadium

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Maidenhead United

Cards looking for return to form in the National League

Glen Harrington
8:34am, Sat 23rd Jan 2021
Woking vs Maidenhead United
Vanarama National League
Saturday 23d January 2020

The Cards will be hoping to carry the momentum from Tuesday’s penalty shoot-out win over Bromley in the FA Trophy into today’s National League match against Maidenhead United, as they aim for a first victory in four league matches.

After another difficult Christmas period, which saw Alan Dowson’s side take just one point from three matches, Woking find themselves in the bottom-half of the table for the first time this season – in 13th place with 21 points from their 16 matches. They are currently two points adrift of the play-off places in a congested top-half of the table, further complicated by a four-game range of matches played and remain a healthy 12 points clear of the bottom three, with Weymouth, Barnet, and Dover Athletic at risk of being cut adrift at the bottom. The Cards will also be hoping to continue their impressive home form, which has seen them lost just twice in 10 games in all competitions this season, a run which has also included five victories.

Despite being tipped by many to struggle, Maidenhead have once again defied expectations, and enjoyed an excellent start to the season. They have accumulated 23 points in just 14 games and currently sit ninth in the league table – outside of the play-off places on goal difference alone. Their last outing was on Boxing Day, when they scored a comprehensive 4-0 win over Wealdstone, although they did lose their two previous games – away to Torquay United and away to Weymouth in the FA Trophy. Their last victory away from home was a 1-0 success at Eastleigh at the start of December. The Magpies has previously lost their first three league games but have since won seven and drawn two out of the last 11.

Woking – Team News

The Cards could hand a debut to striker Jonté Smith, who signed at the start of this week following his release by Cheltenham Town at the end of last season. It’s been a busy week on the transfer-front, as Dowse has also welcomed back winger Malachi Napa, who has re-joined on loan from Oxford United, and popular centre-back Moussa Diarra, who returns after a six-month spell at Havant & Waterlooville. There will certainly be competition for places after a number of impressive performances on Tuesday, including Diarra’s fellow defender Ben Gerring, who made his first appearances of the season after recovering from injury, and midfielder John Goddard, who had been sidelined since October.

Maidenhead United – The Boss

The Magpies have been coached by Alan Devonshire since 2015. The former West Ham United midfielder, who spent almost 15 years at Upton Park as a player, is in his second spell with the club having also managed them between 1996 and 2003. From Maidenhead, he joined Dowse’s former club Hampton & Richmond Borough, before a four-year spell with Braintree. Remarkably, he has now managed in over 1,100 first-team matches, in a career spanning more than 25 years.

One to Watch

Maidenhead’s squad includes two former Woking players, Shaun Donnellan and Manny Parry, who both joined the club from the Cards last summer, Donnellan announced on Friday evening that he was now out for the season. However, winger Sam Barratt is the clear dangerman, having scored nine goals so far this season. The 25-year-old is in his second spell with the club, having played for them between 2014 and 2018, before a two-year spell in the Football League with Southend United. He re-joined the Magpies last summer. His goals this season have included a hat-trick in a 3-1 win over Solihull Moors and braces against King’s Lynn Town, Notts County, and Chesterfield, all in Maidenhead victories.

Last Time Out

Woking 2-0 Maidenhead United – Vanarama National League (29th February 2020)

The Cards did the double over Maidenhead last season. Having won 3-2 in the reverse fixture, an entertaining match shown live on BT Sport, Woking won a more mundane affair at the Laithwaite Community Stadium shortly before the season was curtailed. Matt Jarvis scored the opening goal, just moments after coming on for his Woking debut, before Moussa Diarra made the game safe with a header eight-minutes from time.

Next Up

Woking are back in action on Tuesday when, for the second mid-week in a row, they travel to Bromley. Our next home game is scheduled for the following Saturday against Stockport County.

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A game for the connoisseur as the Cards prevent the Magpies from stealing 3 points

John Pearce
12:00am, Sat 23rd Jan 2021
Woking 0 Maidenhead United 0
Vanarama National League
23rd January 2021

A goalless war of attrition between Woking and Maidenhead United at the Laithwaite Community Stadium, and the resulting one point, left the Cards in 15th place in the table – closer points-wise to the second placed team than to the relegation zone, but worryingly without a league goal or win in their last 4 games.

Woking kicked off, in a 4-3-2-1 formation, towards the KRE in conditions that were dry, with some blue sky and the occasional glimpse of sun, and probably cold (your reporter did not venture outside his front door, given the further tightening up of who can attend BCD games in the latest lockdown).

The starting line-up was unchanged from the one that won at Bromley in the FA Trophy on the previous Tuesday. Those on the bench included Malachi Napa – a welcome returnee from Oxford United for a second loan spell – and Jonte Smith, the unattached but experienced striker pursued and finally signed by Dowse following by an prolonged injury.

For Maidenhead, this was their first league game for 4 weeks. Their 4-4-2 starting line-up including Manny Parry in defence, but the only other ex-Card in their squad, Shaun Donnellan, had been ruled out by a hamstring injury and operation that meant the end of his season.

A very early foray by the Magpies led to a foul just outside the Cards box. The resulting free kick was deflected out for a corner by ‘Moaners’ which was cleared.

In the fifth minute, a Woking ball into the opposition area resulted in a Maidenhead being fouled and a free kick.

2 minutes, the visiting team won a free kick to the right of the Cards area; Dan Sparkes fired in an uninspiring low shot straight into Craig Ross’ hands.

At this early juncture, the game was somewhat scrappy, with a lot of ‘headball’. A feature of each side was a long throw-in specialist – Jack Cook and Sam Barratt respectively – but the ‘shock factor’ was neutralised on the day. One such ball from Cook in the 11th minute was easily cleared; the equivalent from Barratt not long was easily and gratefully collected by Ross.

There was a lot of intricate but ultimately ineffective short passing on the Cards left, typically involving Goddard. A rare attacking move developed, with Spasov picking up the ball on the left, cutting in but driving the ball past the post to the keeper’s right. Woking kept up the pressure for a few minutes, with a Cook throw going out for a corner.

On 25 minutes, a ball from the right into the Cards’ box was sliced out by Sparkes for a goal kick. At the other end, Max Kretzschmar’s shot soared over the KRE.

Cook found himself in the referee’s book when he tripped Nathan Blissett some 25 yards in front of the Woking goal. Sparkes blasted the free kick into the wall, and George Wells shot the returning ball well wide of Ross’ left post.

The ball sailed over the Woking bar from Barratt, on the receiving end of a dangerous cross from Sparkes. Casey was knocked to the ground and received attention from the physio and a doctor, but was able to carry on.

A poor long ball from Cooper from defence straight to the Magpies’ keeper in the 38th minute typified a catalogue of weak passes from Woking. It followed more opposition pressure, with a couple of corners being defended well. Danilo Orsi found himself clear and heading for goal shortly after, but it was called offside.

3 minutes of time added on were just under way when Slavi Spasov was also injured and in need of attention. Little else of note happened before half-time.

Half-time: Woking 0 Maidenhead United 0

The second half began with a move that found Goddard in the Maidenhead area; his pass to Charlie Cooper was hooked wide.

In the 53rd minute, Spasov was fouled by Parry about 25 yards out just left of centre. Cooper’s free kick met Ben Gerring’s head by the far post, but it dropped gently into the keeper’s arms. Blissett – having been warned several times – went into the book shortly after.

Mistakes by the Magpies’ defence gave Ben Dempsey the opportunity to shoot but he failed to trouble the scorers.

New signing Jonte Smith made his first appearance for the Cards, coming on for Spasov in the 64th minute. However, like the other Woking forwards, he was unable to make much of an impression.

A series of Maidenhead corners ensued. In the 73rd minute, a nice passage of passing play by the Cards down the left ended with the ball being cleared in front of goal; there was sustained pressure from the home team at this point.

Three minutes later, Gerring secured a yellow card by flattening Barratt just outside the Woking ‘D’ in an ‘’uncompromising challenge’. Sparkes’ free kick sailed into Ross’ arms without him having to move.

Both sides made double substitutions in the 79th minute. Matt Jarvis and Malachi Napa replaced Goddard and Kretzschmar – a completely new front line – and Josh Coley and Josh Smile came on for Orsi and Barratt.

Cook rises to meet a ball; pic: David Holmes

A Blissett header from a cross by Wells floated just wide of the post to Ross’ right.

Cook and Gerring managed to collide while trying to head the ball, and play was stopped much to the Magpies’ chagrin as they were in strong position.

As the 90th minute approached, a couple of Woking corners were to no avail, as was one in the 4 minutes added on after a poor Maidenhead clearance broke for Napa to pick up. There was a flurry of headers and balls booted skywards before the match came to a conclusion.

One for aficionados of the defensive game or just a dismal game? I’m inclined towards the latter. The difficulty of getting the ball into the opponents’ box and – when they do so – putting into that all important net are worrying, but the defence is solid. With a series of – on paper – difficult games coming up, starting at Bromley away on Tuesday night, it’s going to be a challenging time for the Cards. However, it may be reassuring that the bottom three clubs in the table are somewhat adrift and Woking remain in a large cluster of clubs with similar points totals.

Woking: 13. Craig Ross, 2. Jack Cook, 3. Josh Casey, 4. Charlie Cooper, 5. Ben Gerring, 8. Kane Ferdinand, 10. Max Kretzschmar (20. Malachi Napa 79’), 14. Slavi Spasov (9. Jonte Smith 64’), 16. Kyran Lofthouse, 18. Ben Dempsey, 22. John Goddard (11. Matt Jarvis 79’)

Unused subs: 12. Nathan Collier, 21. Tommy Block

Goals: None

Bookings: Cook 29’, Gerring 76’

Maidenhead United: 1. Taye Ashby-Hammond 3. George Wells 2. Jerry Wiltshire 5. Manny Parry 16. Ryheem Sheckleford 11. Dan Sparkes Rohan Ince 19. Ryan Upward 25. Sam Barratt (28. Josh Smile 79’), 10. Danilo Orsi (7. Josh Coley 79’), 9. Nathan Blissett

Unused subs: 15. Seth Twumasi 12. Brad Keetch 8. James Comley

Goals: None

Bookings: Upward 41’, Blissett 55’

Referee: Scott Jackson

Attendance: N/A

Man of the Match: Difficult to pick anyone out as outstanding on the day, but Jack Cook was particularly solid at the back

13Craig Ross
16Kyran Lofthouse
3Josh Casey
5Ben Gerring
2Jack Cook
18Ben Dempsey
4Charlie Cooper
8Kane Ferdinand
10Max Kretzschmar ('79)
22John Goddard ('79)
14Slavi Spasov ('64)
12Nathan Collier
21Tommy Block
11Matt Jarvis ('79)
20Malachi Napa ('79)
9Jonté Smith ('64)
Maidenhead United LINEUP
1Taye Ashby-Hammond
2Jerry Wiltshire
3George Wells
5Manny Parry
16Ryheem Sheckleford
14Rohan Ince
19Ryan Upward
11Dan Sparkes
25Sam Barratt ('80)
10Danilo Orsi-Dadomo ('80)
9Nathan Blissett
15Seth Nana Twumasi
7Josh Coley ('80)
8James Comley
12Bradley Keetch
28Josh Smile ('80)

Woking 0-0 Maidenhead United | Dowse Interview

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