Saturday's top-of-the-table clash
7:22am, Thu 16th Feb 2012
Woking v Dartford
3pm on Saturday 18 February 2012
The big one! Saturdayâ€™s top-of-the-table clash has all the makings of the game of the season. The Cards, eleven points clear, host second-placed Dartford, who, however, have two games in hand. The Darts, who were in terrific form before the cold snap intervened, have really got to target a win to cut Wokingâ€™s lead, whilst the Cards know that victory would constitute a giant step towards the BSBS title and automatic promotion to the Conference Premier. Come down to Kingfield for this vital game!
Garry Hillâ€™s side were going through a slightly sticky patch before the enforced lay-off but in their last league game had secured a vital 2-1 away win at Boreham Wood. There seems little doubt that their inconsistent form was due in part to a growing injury list which included Mark Ricketts, Dale Binns, Paris Cowan-Hall and Jay Davies. Monday eveningâ€™s Surrey Senior Cup game against Ashford Town (Middx) saw the welcome return of Dale Binns and Jay Davies, with Paris Cowan-Hall an unused substitute, but Jay, himself a half-time substitute, came off after only 20 minutes on the pitch. But the effects of the injury list have been mitigated to a considerable extent by the arrival on loan of Keiran Murtagh, Mike Cestor and Mo Shariff.
Aaron Howe is suspended for Saturdayâ€™s game as the result of his sending-off at Salisbury, so Andy Little will be in goal.
Garry Hill knows that Dartford will really be looking for a win rather than a draw but has no intention, he says, of approaching the game in a defensive frame of mind.
It was clear last season that Dartford, with their good support and impressive ground, were likely to become a force in the Blue Square South and they started this campaign in fine style, recording eight wins, two draws and only one defeat (away at Basingstoke Town) during August and September. Charlie Sheringhamâ€™s somewhat protracted transfer to Bournemouth seemed to unsettle the side for a time but they have since emerged as the team with the best chance of catching Woking. A great run of form, starting ironically after the Cardsâ€™ win at Princes Park in mid-December, saw them notch five wins and two draws in their following seven league games, gaining Burman and captain Elliot Bradbrook the â€˜manager of the monthâ€™ and â€˜player of the monthâ€™ awards for January. The last two league games ended in a 4-1 away win at Staines Town and a 6-0 home win over Thurrock. On Tuesday night the Darts drew 2-2 at home to Wealdstone in the FA Trophy - a result which adds to their fixture backlog.
Following Sheringhamâ€™s departure manager Tony Burman brought in striker Jacob Erskine, most recently with Hampton and Richmond Borough. He also signed keeper Louis Wells from Staines. The Darts have lost the services, though, of Connor Essam, who has been recalled by Gillingham. A bigger blow is the hamstring injury sustained by Bradbrook on Tuesday night in their draw against Wealdstone. It seems certain that he will be missing on Saturday.
The Cardsâ€™ defence will need to be on their toes to deal with the pace of Ryan Hayes, Lee Noble and Lee Burns.
The game will be segregated.
Donâ€™t forget to pick up a copy of the Clubâ€™s excellent matchday programme. Chris Dyke of the Surrey Advertiser recalls some of the trials and tribulations of watching Woking in all weathers, while Ian Nicholson talks about his activities as the Clubâ€™s Chaplain. In addition, of course, there are all the usual high quality previews, reports, fascinating stats and great photos.
LAST TIME OUT
Dartford 2 Woking 3
13 December 2011
An effervescent Cards side swept the Darts away in a first half which they almost completely dominated. Alan Inns powered a Moses Ademola corner home in the 4th minute and Adam Doyle repeated the move shortly before half-time to make it 2-0. Ademola then had a great chance to wrap the game up but put the ball over the bar in a one-on-one with the Dartsâ€™ keeper, Louis Wells.
It was a different story in the second half as Woking, sitting too deep, allowed the home side to build momentum. Rogers pulled it back to 2-1 with a diving header and the Cardsâ€™ defence then had to defend pretty desperately at times. It looked as though Elvis Hammond had made the game safe in the 84th minute as he showed consummate skill in controlling a ballooned clearance on the edge of the area and sweeping the ball home. But the Darts made it 3-2 in the 90th minute through a Jacob Erskine stooping header and came close to grabbing an equaliser in the four minutes of added time.
Come on, you Cards!