Favourites clash on Saturday
5:35pm, Thu 12th Aug 2010
Woking v Dover Athletic
3pm on Saturday 14 August 2010
Two of the bookies’ favourites for promotion from the Blue Square Bet South clash on Saturday in what should be a very interesting opening-day encounter. The Cards beat Dover Athletic home and away last season in the league and came out on top in the play-off semi-final. But both sides have experienced quite a few changes over the summer, with the Dover camp apparently believing that they are now in better shape than at the time of the play-offs, while Cards fans are probably reserving judgment at this stage about the relative merits of last season’s and this season’s squads. The fate of both sides this season won’t be decided of course by Saturday’s game but victory would be a significant morale booster if either side manages to claim all three points.
In an interview in this Saturday’s matchday programme Graham Baker admits that he’d liked to have kept a larger core of players from last season’s squad but nevertheless says that he’s very happy with the group he’s now assembled. To recap, the Cards have lost the following regular first teamers: Ross Worner, Tom Hutchinson, Jon Boardman, Tony Sinclair, Gez Sole and Harry Arter. The new arrivals are: Lenny Pidgeley (returning in goal, temporarily at least), Alan Inns (central defence), Adam Doyle (central defence), Francis Quarm (midfield), Sam Hurrell (midfield), Andy Forbes (forward) and Dave Gilroy (forward). Graham Baker has also signed Toby Little and Daryn Hennessy, both midfielders, on non-contract terms.
There are hopeful signs that the central defensive partnership of Alan Inns with either Joe McNerney or Adam Doyle will prove pretty solid but there has been little opportunity yet for the players to work with each other, so there must be some uncertainty at this stage about defensive strengths this season..
In midfield Harry Arter’s creativity and attacking instincts will undoubtedly be missed, as will Gez Sole’s contribution from free-kicks and penalties especially. Francis Quarm and Jerome Maledon should provide hard-working support for Mark Ricketts in central midfield, while the hope is that Sam Hurrell can provide some pace and trickery on the left flank to match Moses Ademola’s on the right. There appears to be scope, though, for either Toby Little or Daryn Hennessy to force themselves into contention.
Up front, the situation looks healthier than last season – and certainly much healthier than at this stage last season – with Graham Baker having gained experienced strikers in the shape of Forbes and Gilroy to add to the equally experienced Craig Faulconbridge and the exciting emerging talent of Ola Sogbanmu.
It is arguable that the greater leavening of experience in this season’s squad will help to make the Cards more consistent than last year and avoid the sort of awful ‘blip’ we saw in the New Year. We’ll have to wait and see!
It is perhaps surprising that after all the turmoil and acrimony surrounding Andy Hessenthaler’s departure for Gillingham – which also subsequently led to the loss of his successor Ian Hendon and then captain Nicky Southall – the general feeling is that the Whites may well be in better shape than last year to mount a promotion challenge.
In defence a key addition is Rob Gillman, Bromley’s captain last season. A central defensive partnership with Ollie Shulz certainly wouldn’t lack physical presence! They’ve been joined by Jackson Ohakama and Tom Wynter, who had a loan spell with the Whites from Gillingham last year. In midfield Dover have lost Sammy Moore (now with AFC Wimbledon) as well as Southall. They will hope that Sam Cutler, with Welling last season, winger Harry Baker and Luke I’Anson can fill the gaps.
Up front, Martin Hayes has got two new faces to complement Adam Birchall and Shaun Welford: Ben Hunt, formerly with West Ham and Bristol Rovers (where he had loan spells with Gloucester City and Newport County) and Elliott Charles (who came through the youth ranks at Barnet).
Two last-minute signings are those of Nicky Nicolau, who of course was with the Cards for most of last season, and Kane Rice, a winger who has played for Maidstone and VCD Athletic.
Make sure you get a copy of our prize-winning matchday programme. It includes a pre-season interview with Graham Baker, profiles of all the new players plus ‘The Ranter’ and many other features.
Admission prices are:
Adult - £12
Juniors (u16s) - £2
Concessions / Students - £8
Don’t forget that season tickets are still on sale!
The match is expected to be segregated.
Come on, you Cards!