Back to the league and a long trip North
12:02pm, Thu 7th Dec 2017
Gateshead v Woking
Vanarama National League
3pm on Saturday 9 December 2017
After Emirates FA Cup and Surrey Senior Cup action, the Cards return to National League matters with a long trip to Gateshead on Saturday. With only one win in their last seven league games, the Cards will be hoping to hit top form but the Heed will be a tough nut to crack at home.
The Cards early exit from the Surrey Senior Cup, albeit with a very young side plus a few senior players coming back from injury or requiring more game time, reflected a rather flat performance. Anthony Limbrick will want his squad firing on all cylinders in this next league encounter and with only one win in the league in the last seven games itâ€™s important to get something from this long trip north.
Positives from Wokingâ€™s midweek fixture included Josh Staunton playing for an hour as he comes back from injury. Richard Orlu completed 90 minutes after missing out last weekend with a suspension. Fabio Saraiva, Jamie Philpot and Matt Young all featured and will have benefitted from the run out. Encouragingly we also saw Jason Banton make a return to the side in the second half.
Regan Charles-Cook was recalled during the week to play for Charlton against a Swansea U23 side. But fears that his loan spell might be over prematurely were put aside when it was announced that he has returned to Woking and is available for the weekend. For once Anthony Limbrick has an almost complete squad available for selection.
The Heed, though well backed financially, havenâ€™t really fulfilled their potential in the last couple of seasons, finishing in 9th and 8th place respectively but well short of the play-off positions in terms of points won.
Ex-Halifax manager Neil Aspin overhauled his squad again in the summer but then left to manage Port Vale. He was replaced in October by Steve Watson, best known for his 250 plus appearances for Newcastle United. Gateshead now sit in 15th place in the table. At home they have won five league games, drawn three and lost three, scoring 14 goals and conceding only eight. However defensive frailties were exposed last weekend as Luton put five goals past the Heed in the FA Cup without reply. The game was overshadowed by a serious injury to home defender Scott Barrow in the build-up to the first goal, colliding with his own goalkeeper Dan Hanford before a 15-minute delay saw the centre-back taken to hospital after falling unconscious.
Players likely to be in the reckoning for this game are, in goal, either James Montgomery or Dan Hanford. Montgomery is a relative of Sunderlandâ€™s famous keeper Jim Montgomery, starting his career off at Middlesbrough before joining the Heed in January after spells at Grimsby, the Nike Academy and Telford. Hanford joined from Carlisle in summer 2016 after spending time previously at Rochdale, Glenn Hoddleâ€™s Academy, Hereford, Maltese club Floriana. In defence regular performers are: 20-year-old Theo Vassell who joined from Walsall in the summer, having been on loan at Chester last season; Scott Barrow, another summer arrival, from Merthyr Town, whose previous clubs include Tamworth and Macclesfield Town; Fraser Kerr, who also joined this summer, from Cowdenbeath and Stenhousemuir, having been part of the Motherwell side which was twice runners-up in the Scottish Premier Division; club captain Neill Byrne, who was signed from Macclesfield in May and whose previous clubs include Rochdale, with loans at Barrow and Southport, and AFC Telford; Jamal Fyfield, familiar from spells at York City, Grimsby, Welling United and Wrexham; and Callum Williams, on loan from Newcastle United.
The Heed have some very well-known players in midfield: winger Wes York was with Wrexham for two years after catching the eye at Nuneaton; Robbie Tinkler is on loan from Middlesbrough, having played for North Ferriby last season; Paddy McLoughlinâ€™s pedigree includes Newcastle United, promotion from the Conference with York City and over 60 appearances with Grimsby; JJ Oâ€™Donnell, signed in summer 2014 from Luton but who was out for over two-and-a-half years with a rare foot injury, during which time he acted as kitman; Russell Penn, highly experienced with over 300 Football League appearances, including spells at York, Cheltenham and Carlisle, plus a loan spell at Wrexham last season; and Luke Hannant, originally with Norwich City.
The Heedâ€™s strikers are also familiar names: Richard Peniket, who joined from Halifax, having started off at Fulham and with loan spells at various clubs before joining Tamworth in 2013; Danny Johnson, who has just notched up his 100th appearance since joining in summer 2015, having previously previously been at Middlesbrough, Hartlepool, Real Murcia, Guisborough Town and Cardiff City; Jordan Burrow, another recruit by Neil Aspin from Halifax, who has also played for Stevenage and Lincoln; and Jordan Preston, who joined from Guiseley in the summer, with previous stints at Blackburn Roversâ€™ Academy and Ayr United on loan.
The International Stadium
Tyne and Wear
Official website: www.gateshead-fc.com
The Cards Trust is not running a coach to this game.
Take the A1(M) to its junction with the A194(M), just north of Washington Services. Take the A194(M) to the end of the motorway. At the roundabout turn left onto the A184 towards Gateshead. The International Stadium is on the right after about three miles. Car parking is available at the ground.
There are frequent trains from London KX to Newcastle Central, from where you can take the Metro to Gateshead Stadium, only two stops away. Possible direct trains include 10.00 (12.51), 10.30 (13.40) and 11.00 (13.49). There are some slower trains involving a change at York, but there is industrial action threatened on Cross Country services. There are direct trains back at 17.26 (20.44), 17.59 (20.49) and 18.30 (21.43). The ground is only five minutesâ€™ walk away from Gateshead Station Metro: a footpath leads direct to the Stadium. Look up www.nationalrail.co.uk or www.thetrainline.com for more details of train times and prices.
Tickets purchased on the day are priced at:
Woking fans will be in the all-seater, covered Tyne and Wear Stand: entry via turnstiles 1-4. The game will not be segregated.
The Cards visit London Road for their FA Cup replay with Peterborough United on Tuesday 12th December and then are at home to Maidenhead United in the 1st Round of the Buildbase FA Trophy on Saturday 16 December.
The Cardsâ€™ next league game is at home to Barrow on Saturday 23 December.
Make a note, if you havenâ€™t already done so, that the Cardsâ€™ postponed game against Tranmere Rovers has been re-arranged for Tuesday 9 January 2018.
Come on, you Cards!