12:00am, Thu 26th Jul 2007
Havant and Waterlooville v Woking
7.45pm on Friday 27 July 2007
Bognor Regis Town v Woking
3pm on Saturday 28 July 2007
The Cards make what has now become their traditional pre-season weekend trip to the seaside for two friendly games, this time against Havant and Waterlooville and Bognor Regis Town. Both sides are in the Blue Square South and should provide a good test for Frank Gray?s team.
Woking fans will be feeling more positive after Tuesday evening?s encouraging display against AFC Wimbledon, which resulted in a 1-0 victory. While not wishing to get too carried away by a performance in a friendly against Ryman Premier opposition, there were signs that a few players were beginning to show some real promise, including the bustling Marvin Morgan up front, the creative Matt Pattison in midfield and Paul Lorraine at the back, who is beginning to look like a more than satisfactory replacement for Gary MacDonald. It was heartening too to see fine performances from Academy graduates Matt Ruby, Jerome Maledon and David Shin, although their better-known colleague, Giuseppe Sole, has yet to find his shooting boots.
Frank Gray (pictured), speaking today (Thursday), told me that he was pleased with Tuesday?s performance: ?The game was played at a higher tempo than the two previous games, which helped, and players? touch is improving. Like all the pre-season games, the result isn?t really what matters: it?s about match practice, improving fitness levels, getting to know each other?s play.? Frank confirmed that Tom Hutchinson missed Tuesday?s game with a slight hamstring problem. Frank wasn?t sure if Tom would play a part in the weekend games. He added that Jay Gasson is continuing to improve and said that he might feature at the weekend. Adam Green, who was involved in a nasty clash of heads, is fine but, as with all head injuries, they are continuing to keep him under close observation. Marvin Morgan has sore shins and the management team will see how he is after training tomorrow.
I asked Frank if there was any news about signing another keeper. Was Ross Warner a possible candidate? ?I think Ross is too young but there is plenty of time yet to find another keeper?, Frank replied. I also commented that there had been a lot of speculation about David Shin being awarded a contract. Frank said that David has been signed on non-contract terms but can?t be given a contract at present because he only has a student visa. The Club are seeing whether he can obtain a work permit.
Looking forward to the weekend games, Frank said that he might give a run-out to one or two trialists and might add a few more youth players, depending on injuries, but he expected that most of the squad would figure in both games. ?It?s all part of the build-up to 11 August?, he added. ?We?re staying away for two nights, so it?s a good opportunity for players to get to know each other better and to build on our excellent team spirit.?
HAVANT AND WATERLOOVILLE
Having narrowly missed out in the play-offs last season, losing on penalties to Braintree Town in the semi-final, manager Ian Baird will be aiming to make sure of promotion from the Blue Square South this time round. The squad looks strong with a number of well-known non-League performers, including top scorer Rocky Baptiste (28 goals last season) and side-kick Richard Pacquette, ex-Card Neil Sharp, Tom Jordan (once a trialist at Kingfield) and Tony Taggart. Jefferson Louis, though, has continued his travels, having now signed for Weymouth. Baird has added some new faces this summer: Jamie Slabber, whom we?ve seen playing for Aldershot, Stevenage and Grays; Leroy Griffiths, who has travelled around a number of clubs following his transfer from Hampton and Richmond to QPR; Michael McEnery, a highly-rated winger from Newport I.O.W; Jay Smith, a defender who has seen service with Brentford, Farnborough and Grays; Kevin Scriven, a keeper signed from Farnborough; and Andy Gurney, a very experienced defender with some 500 League appearances behind him at Bristol Rovers, Swindon and Reading. There are a lot of Farnborough connections, so there should be few surprises for Frank Gray and Gerry Murphy.
The Hawks won their first friendly 3-1 at Cowes Sports; went down, very creditably, 2-0 at home to a strong Portsmouth side in front of a crowd of over 3,500; and then beat Llanelli away 4-1.
BOGNOR REGIS TOWN
Manager Jack Pearce (with over 37 years and 1500 games in charge of the Rocks) has been busy preparing for another season at Nyewood Lane. Bognor finished in 12th position last term. New signings so far include Mark Knee, a long-time target, now signed from relegated Worthing after notching up over 400 games there; David Ray, a utility player from Basingstoke, who was voted their ?player of the season?; and Chris Greatwich from Lewes. We may get a chance to see Sam Cockerill, who is understood to be having a trial with Bognor.
The Rocks have lost star striker, Ben Watson, this summer. He has joined Craig McAllister and Karl Murray at Grays Athletic.
Havant and Waterlooville
Havant & Waterlooville FC
Telephone (023) 92787822
The directions on the Hawks? website are:
Approaching from the north (A3/A3M)
Follow the A3 south until it becomes the A3M.
Just after it does take the B2149 turning, signposted to Emsworth. At the top of the sliproad turn left along Dell Piece East, follow the road to a small roundabout and turn right.
Continue along this road into Rowlands Castle and you'll be confronted by a small double roundabout with a Harvester restaurant on the left. Go straight over the first and right at the second, taking the road running down the right hand side of the Shell petrol station.
Follow this road round until it becomes a dual carriageway. At the first set of traffic lights turn left into Bartons Road. The ground will be on your right.
At the top of the hill immediately after a pedestrian crossing, turn right into Martin Road. The entrance to the ground is several hundred yards along the road on your right.
Approaching from the east/west (A27)
Turn off the A27 into Havant at the Hayling Island roundabout (A3023). If coming from the west this is the first exit after the A3M split.
Follow the road through the town centre crossing three sets of traffic lights until you go over the railway and come to a roundabout.
Go straight on, through another four sets of lights. At the fifth, (after a petrol station on your right and the Heron pub on your left), turn right into Bartons Road.
The ground will be on your right. At the top of the hill immediately after a pedestrian crossing, turn right into Martin Road. The entrance to the ground is several hundred yards along the road on your right.
By Train (Havant Station)
Leave the station by the north exit (that being the side that doesn't have the main ticket office).
Walk north up Leigh Road, directly ahead of you on leaving the station. After half a mile the road eventually comes to a dead end by a junction onto a dual carriageway.
Cross the road and walk along the right hand side of the dual carriageway (this is pavemented, the route runs along a housing estate).
Continue up to the next set of traffic lights, just before a petrol station and opposite the Heron pub, and looking right you should see a dead end road and the ground's floodlights. Turn into the road and the ground entrance is a hundred yards on the left.
The 17.56 from Woking arrives at Havant at 18.48. On the way back the 22.46 from Havant gets into Woking at 23.55.
Bognor Regis Town FC
The Rocks? ground is at :
Head for the A3 and then take the A283 at Milford, signposted for Petworth. At Petworth take the A285, signposted for Chichester. Follow this road until you reach the junction with the A27. Then follow signs for Portsmouth, which will lead you onto the Chichester Bypass. At the Bognor Road Roundabout take the A259, signposted to Bognor. After about a mile you will come to the junction with the B2144. Take the second exit at the roundabout. After about three miles turn right into Hawthorn Road and then, half a mile further on, turn left into Nyewood Lane. According to the AA Route Planner, the journey should take about an hour and a quarter.
Getting there by train from Woking would not be straightforward. You would need to get the 13.02 to Havant, change there for Barnham and change there again for Bognor Regis.
Come on, you Cards!