Woking v Forest Green Rovers
12:00am, Thu 30th Aug 2007
Woking v Forest Green Rovers
3pm on Saturday 1 September 2007
The Cards have another tough match ahead of them on Saturday when high-flying Forest Green Rovers come to Kingfield. Rovers have traditionally been thought of as perennial escape artists, always just clinging onto their Conference status, but things are now looking different under the astute leadership of Jim Harvey. Rovers have started the season with three wins, one draw and one defeat and currently lie in sixth place. Come on down to Kingfield and cheer on Frank Gray?s young side in their next big test!
The Cards have made a very respectable start to the season with one win, one defeat and three draws in their opening five games. The next couple of games, both at home, will be crucial in determining whether we can stay in mid-table or above or whether we will get sucked down towards the relegation places ? from which, as we know, it can be hard to escape.
Frank Gray is already having to cope with the consequences of a reduced budget and a very small squad. With Liam Marum out for several weeks more yet, he has few attacking options up front. Those options were further reduced by today?s news that Michael Charles is leaving the Club by mutual consent. It has to be said, though, that Michael had shown few signs of being able to make an impact at this level. In fairness to him, this may have been in part due to the style of play we have adopted (or been forced to adopt) in the opening games, which has produced very few chances for someone whose strength presumably is in sniffing out chances in the box. In contrast, Giuseppe Sole?s forte is in making things happen outside the area: he looked lively when he came on at Salisbury, with his ability to glide away from players and get himself into shooting positions on the edge of the box, and his first goal of the season won?t have done his confidence any harm. The hope must be that Frank Gray can use the money saved on Michael?s wages to bring in some much-needed reinforcement up front.
Woking fans will be waiting anxiously for further news of the injury to skipper Tom Hutchinson. There is no doubt that we missed him at the back at Salisbury in spite of some excellent defending from Paul Lorraine, Jay Gasson and Matt Ruby. It?s hard to believe that Matt Tubbs would have had quite as much space to notch the Whites? first goal if Tom had been around.
The news that Matt Gray has to have an operation is more unwelcome news. Assuming that he hasn?t gone under the knife before the weekend, a place on the bench seems likely at best.
FOREST GREEN ROVERS
Jim Harvey joined Rovers last September when they had failed to register a win in their first eleven games, but he steered them to safety and got them playing some attractive football too. He was rewarded in the summer with a contract extension to 2010. Harvey lost defender Kevin Nicholson to Torquay United in the close season and player-coach Paul Wanless (who had a loan spell with us when he was at Cambridge United) has also left the club. But Harvey has added several new faces: Stuart Fleetwood, a promising 21 year-old striker who was previously with Hereford United and Cardiff City; Anthony Tonkin, an experienced League defender with Yeovil, Crewe and Stockport; Chris Davies, a 21 year-old striker, currently at Loughborough University but who netted 40 goals last season for Hellenic League Shortwood Town; Olly James, a 20 year-old defender from Tranmere; Jonathan Smith, a central defender from Harvey?s former club, Morecambe, but who also turned out for Accrington Stanley in the Conference; reserve keeper Terry Burton, formerly with the Army and Wantage Town; and youth team graduate Lorcan Sheehan, an 18 year-old midfielder. Among those re-signing were experienced campaigners Danny Carey-Bertram, ex-Card Jamie Pitman, Les Afful and Adriano Rigoglioso. Chris Giles, who had a loan spell at Kingfield, has also been part of the Rovers? line-up.
SEASON SO FAR
Rovers started the campaign with a tough away game at Oxford United. Though outplayed, they succumbed only to an injury-time penalty. In their first home game, against Weymouth, Rovers tore into a 3-0 lead in 27 minutes with goals from Simon Clist, Danny Bertram-Carey and Stuart Fleetwood. Weymouth hit back with two goals but Rovers clung on for three valuable points. Rovers made home advantage pay again the following Saturday, beating Altrincham with goals from Danny Carey-Bertram, Simon Clist and Lee Dodgson. Rovers started the Bank Holiday weekend with a fine 2-0 away win at York City thanks to second-half goals from Darren Jones and Stuart Fleetwood. On Monday they secured a 2-2 home draw against much-fancied Torquay United. Mark Beesley scored two goals in three minutes to put Rovers ahead but the Gulls grabbed a hotly-disputed equaliser.
Forest Green Rovers 2 Woking 3
Woking 3 Forest Green Rovers 3
We had two eventful encounters with Rovers last year. The first, at the beginning of September, saw the Cards pick up their first away win of the season, with loan signing Jon Nurse again prominent. He bagged the first goal and Craig McAllister the second to give the Cards a comfortable 2-0 lead approaching half-time but a corner deflected into the net by Steve Evans gave Rovers heart and, shortly after the break, Alex Meechan hit a screamer from 30 yards to level the scores. With eight minutes remaining a ball lobbed forward resulted in Jon Nurse, a defender and the keeper all colliding some 35 yards from goal. The ball fell to Craig McAllister, who made no mistake to secure a 3-2 win.
The return fixture in mid-April was an even more extraordinary affair. After two fine wins under the temporary management team of Graham Baker and Neil Smith had just about guaranteed safety, the Cards found themselves 3-0 down at half-time to a rampant Rovers side, who were even more desperately in need of points. With only ten minutes to go the Cards at last managed to force what looked like a mere consolation goal from Craig McAllister, but four minutes later Tom Hutchinson swivelled in the box to crash home a second. With the Leslie Gosden Stand rocking, Giuseppe Sole, in injury time, lined up a free-kick all of 35 yards out. There seemed no way he could score from that distance and angle, but the keeper moved off his line and the ball tore past him for an astonishing equaliser.
Come on, you Cards!