Woking kick-off pre-season campaign against Badshot Lea
9:56am, Sat 6th Jul 2019
Badshot Lea vs Woking
Tuesday 9th July 2019
Football is back. This coming Tuesday, Alan Dowson and his team begin preparations for a new season in a new division, following the Cards’ promotion to the National League Premier back in May.
Remarkably, next week’s opening encounter comes just a little over eight weeks after Armani Little’s free-kick scored Woking a 1-0 victory over long-time rivals Welling United and secured the club an immediate return to non-league’s top table, following 2018’s desperately disappointing relegation. Despite a shorter than normal summer break, Dowse, along with the returning Ian Dyer and Martin Tyler, have been busy building a squad ready to take on the sterner challenges associated with the National League.
The trio know only too well that they will be tested at every turn, not just in terms of the step up in quality, but also with the additional travel, whilst also facing the prospect of competing with a number of ‘big names’, such as the newly relegated Notts County and Yeovil Town – a Championship team just five years ago – as well as the likes of Chesterfield, Hartlepool and Wrexham. However, there is an unquestionable sense of momentum at the club this summer, and there is little doubt that everyone associated with Woking will be keen to go and make their mark this campaign – starting this coming Tuesday evening away to Badshot, as pre-season gets underway.
Dowse has confirmed that he expects to name a squad of 22 players for Tuesday’s game, comprised of a mix of signed first-team players and trialists, with a separate team for each half.
He has so far managed to secure 14 names for the new season, many of which will be familiar to Woking fans, with a large chunk of last season’s promotion winning squad returning and deservedly receiving their chance at a higher level. This includes goalkeeper Craig Ross, who kept 14 clean sheets in 42 games last season; captain and Player of the Year Josh Casey; fellow defenders Jack Cook, Nathan Collier and Ben Gerring, who was included in the National League South Team of the Year; midfielder Kane Ferdinand; hugely popular winger and local lad Paul Hodges; plus Max Kretzschmar and Jake Hyde, joint top scorers with 15 apiece in all competitions last season.
There are also several new or, in some cases, returning faces. Sam Howes, previously of West Ham United and Watford but known to Dowse through multiple loan spells with Hampton and Richmond Borough, joins to rival Ross for the number one spot; defender Manny Parry, part of the National League Team of the Season just twelve months ago, joins from Boreham Wood; Godfrey Poku, a Woking player back in 2015/16 who has since had a brilliant three years with Oxford City and Wealdstone, returns in midfield alongside the latest academy graduate, Jack Skinner; whilst Dave Tarpey has made his loan move from last season into a permanent one. The striker scored 52 goals in 50 games in all competitions for Maidenhead United just two years ago, which earned him a move to Barnet, only for injury to derail what looked to be a promising Football League career. Now fully fit, he comes to the Laithwaite Community Stadium looking to prove he’s also back to his best.
The Baggies currently play in the Combined Counties League Premier Division, in which they finished ninth last season, having been promoted from Division One the previous season.
The club are opening their new ground on Westfield Lane, Wrecclesham - south-west of Farnham - at the start of this season. They play their first game there today (Saturday) against our local rivals Aldershot Town, before hosting the Cards on Tuesday.
We look forward to seeing plenty of Woking fans there enjoying the first action of a new season!