Woking v Cambridge United
12:00am, Thu 23rd Aug 2007
Woking v Cambridge United
3pm on Saturday 25 August 2007
Table-topping Cambridge United ? the only side to have opened the season with three straight wins ? will give the new-look Cards a tough test on Saturday at Kingfield. The U?s have had their troubles, on and off the pitch, in recent years but, even before the season began, there were distinct signs of a revival taking place at the Abbey Stadium. Come and see if Frank Gray?s side can dent the U?s ambitions and also maintain their own unbeaten start to the season!
With two draws and a win, the Cards have made a better start to the season than many fans had feared. The foundation has undoubtedly been the splendid central defensive trio of Tom Hutchinson, Paul Lorraine and Jay Gasson. The early signs are that this could be one of the best defences seen at Kingfield for many a year. Obviously, the risk is that injuries and/or suspensions will disrupt this partnership but Matt Ruby, currently doing a very respectable, if unfamiliar, job as a defensive wing back, would be an able deputy. Two other crucial components of the Woking success so far have been Nick Gindre, who has made some vital saves, and, of course, the magnificent Marvin Morgan. If the team can give him the service on which he thrives ? on the ground and to his feet ? he will continue to threaten even the best BSP defences. It has to be said, though, that at the moment we look as if we rely almost wholly on him for goals. Giuseppe Sole has appeared ?out of sorts? so far and Michael Charles has made little impression when he has come on as a substitute. It would be an enormous boost for Frank Gray?s side if Liam Marum, once recovered from injury, was able to add to our attacking options. Unfortunately ? see below ? it looks as though he won?t be ready to appear against his old club on Saturday.
Frank Gray said that he wanted to entertain as well as getting results. Anyone who thought that we would play with abandon may perhaps have been disappointed with the pragmatic, even cautious, approach Frank has taken so far but there has nevertheless been much to admire in Woking?s displays and we certainly haven?t resorted to ?hoof ball?. The exciting thing is that this team, which is so young and inexperienced, is already showing a great deal of promise and can surely only get better. A solid start is just what the team needed to build up confidence and to avoid the sort of panic measures which would have jeopardised long-term progress.
I spoke to Frank Gray this (Thursday) afternoon for an update on the injury front. He described Liam Marum as ?very doubtful? for Saturday but thought that Matt Gray might make the bench. Of course, the Cards will be missing the influential Matt Pattison, suspended for one game as the result of his two bookings at Stafford. So, it seems likely that there will be a starting place for either Jerome Maledon or Adam Green in midfield. In Jerome?s case it would mark his first team debut at Kingfield after his substitute appearance last Saturday.
Frank saw Cambridge United demolish Farsley Celtic 5-1 on Tuesday night and was obviously impressed by what he saw. ?Cambridge played well on the night and could have scored more?, he said, ?but Farsley had their chances too and could easily have scored a couple. It?s going to be another tough game for us on Saturday - they are all tough ? but we have just got to work hard as we have done in the three games so far.? Frank confirmed that he was very pleased with the form of his central defenders to date but emphasised that good defending isn?t just down to the defenders but relies on the whole team doing their job. He praised the team?s work ethic.
In the old days clubs who suffered the humiliation of relegation into the Conference often bounced back straightaway but Cambridge United have suffered the now-common experience of finding life rather difficult at the top of the non-League pyramid. Indeed, but for some last-ditch heroics, the U?s could have found themselves sinking into what is now the Blue Square North or South divisions.
Manager Jimmy Quinn is determined that the U?s will make their mark at the top end of the table this season and the improving financial situation has engendered an unusual degree of optimism around the Abbey Stadium. His main task has been to find a strike force to replace last season?s top scorer Robbie Simpson, whose transfer to Coventry City, for an initial compensation payment of ?40,000 and a sell-on provision of only 5%, provoked bitter protests from U?s Chairman Lee Power. Quinn has brought in Lee Boylan, a familiar figure from his time at Canvey Island and Grays Athletic; Scott Rendell, who has arrived from Crawley Town but has also appeared for Forest Green Rovers and Aldershot Town in the Conference; and the much-travelled (as they say) Leo Fortune-West, who parted company with Rushden and Diamonds. Quinn has also drafted in two new keepers: Danny Potter, formerly with Canvey Island and Stevenage Borough, and Luke McShane, a reserve keeper from Peterborough United. Other new faces include Mark Convery, a midfielder surprisingly released by York City; Mark Albrighton, central defender, part of the exodus from Boston United; Gavin Hoyte, another central defender, signed from Bedford Town; and Stephen Reed, formerly with Torquay and Yeovil and who failed to impress in a loan spell at Kingfield the season before last. 17 year-old youth team winger, Robbie Wilmott, has also been added to the first team squad. A blow for the U?s was the news that highly promising young defender Adam Davies, a Welsh U21 international, has been forced to retire from the game through injury.
The U?s will be missing Mark Convery and Dan Chillingworth on Saturday as a result of injury problems.
SEASON SO FAR
The U?s have made a very promising start to the season with opening wins over York City away and Oxford United and Farsley Celtic at home. At York Gavin Hoyte scored an equaliser just after half-time and then Lee Boylan converted from the penalty spot to secure a 2-1 away win. Against Oxford United the U?s had to come from behind again, Leo Fortune-West heading home to equalise Gary Twigg?s first-half strike, and then, in stoppage time, Lee Boylan netting the winner. On Tuesday evening United thumped newboys Farsley Celtic 5-1, with a hat-trick from Leo Fortune-West after Rob Wolleaston had opened the scoring in the second minute. Mark Albrighton grabbed the fifth goal.
This is United?s third season in the Conference. In the 2005/06 season we had a superb 2-0 away win when Craig McAllister slotted home after a great flick over his head and sprint by Steve Ferguson and then Karl Murray doubled the lead with one of his specialist free-kicks. But it was a different story back at Kingfield when we lost 1-0. We produced two of our weakest performances against the U?s last season, losing 1-0 at home in December and going down 3-0 away the following month.
We?ve met three times in the FA Cup. In the 1988-89 season the U?s beat us 4-1 in the First Round and then defeated us 3-1 the following year in the Second Round. However, in the 1996-7 season we secured a brilliant 2-0 away win in the Second Round, outplaying our League hosts and going through with goals from Robin Taylor and Clive Walker.
Come on, you Cards!