Title favourites go head to head
3:10pm, Thu 15th Sep 2011
Woking v Dover Athletic
3pm on Saturday 17 September 2011
This Saturdayâ€™s game against old rivals Dover Athletic looks to be one of the key games of the season. The Whites are widely expected to be one of the main challengers for promotion. Their form so far has been a bit uneven but they seem happiest away from Perryâ€™s Crabble and can be expected to provide a very tough test for Garry Hillâ€™s side. (Before the game, at 12 noon on Moanersâ€™ Corner, there will be a ceremony to mark the scattering of Phil Ledgerâ€™s ashes at Kingfield: please see the earlier message for further details.)
The Cards have largely had the edge over Dover in the last couple of seasons, beating them in a memorable play-off semi-final in 2009-10 and squeezing them out of the play-off places last season as well as knocking them out of the FA Trophy. But itâ€™s not been all plain sailing: Doverâ€™s win at Kingfield on the opening day of last season was a severe blow and set the tone for an underwhelming first half of the campaign.
Woking, like Dover, have tended to find it easier playing away from home than in front of their own crowd, although the Cards have actually managed three wins and a draw so far at Kingfield. But none of the victories was wholly convincing and Steve Thompson commented after the somewhat flattering 3-1 win over Eastbourne Borough last Saturday that Woking would need to play better against Dover to collect all three points.
Will Garry Hill be tempted to change his side? Gez Sole and Jay Davies, both of whom have impressed in substitute appearances, are the two players with the strongest claims to be promoted to a starting place.
Mike Cestor will be making his last appearance unless his loan spell from Leyton Orient is extended.
Dover currently lie in 7th place, with 13 points from 8 games. There is a feeling among some Dover fans that the side has under-performed so far, with three successive draws at home. Manager Martin Hayes has been criticised for rotating his squad, although he kept the same line-up last Saturday against Basingstoke Town last Saturday and it still resulted in a goalless stalemate.
The Whites started the season impressively with back-to-back 4-0 wins over Dorchester at home and Thurrock away. But they then came unstuck at Truro City, losing 1-0 before registering three draws in succession: at home to Dartford (2-2) and Tonbridge Angels (0-0) and away to Sutton (0-0). They got back to winning ways with an impressive 3-2 victory at Chelmsford but then suffered frustration again last Saturday with another goalless draw against Basingstoke Town.
Over the summer, Dover lost top striker Adam Birchall to Gillingham but theyâ€™ve gained two very useful goalscorers in Billy Bricknell, signed from Chelmsford City, and George Purcell, who scored a cracker for Dartford at Kingfield when on loan from York City last autumn. Both Bricknell and Purcell have notched five goals apiece already. Olly Schulz has previously caused us problems at set pieces but he was placed on the transfer list some weeks ago following disciplinary problems.
Ex-Aldershot keeper Mikhael Jaimez-Ruiz has been one of the stars so far, along with defender Steve Watt, signed from Grimsby in the summer. Other new faces include Glen Southam, the former Dagenham and Barnet midfielder, and James Walker, who had a spell at Woking towards the end of last season.
Woking 0 Dover Athletic 1
14 August 2010
An opening-day defeat by the Whites, followed by a 3-0 mauling at Chelmsford City, cruelly exposed some of the weaknesses in the squad which Graham Baker had assembled over the summer. Lenny Pidgeley was the hero in the first half, saving Adam Birchallâ€™s penalty, but was responsible for the Whitesâ€™ goal after the break as he tried to usher the ball out of play. Elliot Charles had the simple task of putting the ball in the net after Birchallâ€™s good work.
Dover Athletic 1 Woking 2
FA Trophy Q3
20 November 2010
The Cards dispelled fears of a post-FA Cup slump with this impressive win at Crabble. On-loan Jerome Federico scored twice in the first half. Hunt netted for Dover midway through the second half but the Cards hung on for a notable win.
Dover Athletic 2 Woking 2
11 January 2011
Graham Bakerâ€™s penultimate game in charge saw the Cards pegged back twice at Crabble. Elvis Hammond struck superbly from a Sam Hurrell break to gain the lead but Donovan Simmondsâ€™s header from a set piece quickly restored parity. The Cards regained the advantage in the second half when Moses Ademola side-footed home from an Aswad Thomas cross but Shane Long grabbed a point for Dover with seven minutes remaining.
Donâ€™t forget that, for a trial period, the Club has opened a new bar under the Leslie Gosden Stand.
Come on, you Cards!