1:48pm, Mon 5th Oct 2020
Weymouth vs Woking
Vanarama National League
Tuesday 6th October 2020
The Cards make the trip to newly promoted Weymouth on Tuesday evening, looking to build on the success of Saturday’s impressive 2-1 victory over highly fancied Solihull Moors, the club’s fourth consecutive opening day of the season win.
For 25 minutes it looked like being a long afternoon for Alan Dowson’s side against the Moors, who were impressive on the ball and deserved their lead, even if it came via a fortuitous penalty ably dispatched by Northern Ireland international Jamie Ward. But Jack Cook’s 60-yard clearance turned shot, which forced a spectacular save out of visiting goalkeeper Ryan Boot, seemed to spark the hosts into life and they were far and away the better team after the break. Max Kretzschmar bundled in a Josh Casey corner from close range and Kane Ferdinand struck what would prove to be the winner soon after, aided by excellent awareness from debutant Slavi Spasov, who was unselfish to set up his teammate despite the pressure of several defenders around him. It might have got even better for the Cards, had Boot not pulled off another fine save to keep out Charlie Cooper’s free-kick, and despite some late pressure Woking were good value for all three points.
This week will mark a first competitive meeting between these two sides since April 2010 and a first game at National League level since November 2008. The Cards are unbeaten in their last nine meetings with the Terras in all competitions, winning five and drawing four, although Weymouth will be boosted by their own opening day success, picking up their first National league point in a decade in a 0-0 draw away to fellow play-off winners Altrincham on Saturday. After successive relegations in 2009 and 2010, Weymouth spent nine years in the seventh tier, before sealing the first of back-to-back promotions to return them to non-league’s top table. Last season they finished third in National League South, beating Dartford on penalties in the play-off final to clinch another trophy. Manager Mark Molesley departed in the summer, joining Southend United, and was replaced by former Wales international Brian Stock, whose club career included spells with AFC Bournemouth, Doncaster Rovers, Burnley, and Havant & Waterlooville. The bulk of their promotion-winning side has remained, although top scorer Abdulai Bell-Baggie has joined Eastleigh.
Dowse certainly sprung a few surprises against Solihull, leaving both John Goddard and Dave Tarpey on the bench, whilst there was no place in the squad for defender Sam Cartwright or striker Connor Hall. His decision was ultimately well and truly justified as his team surpassed expectations to deliver a fine win. As expected, Jack Cook moved inside to play in Moussa Diarra’s vacated left-sided centre-back role, starting alongside West Bromwich Albion loanee Saul Shotton against Solihull. Both were excellent in front of Craig Ross, who was as dependable as ever when called upon. All three will be favourites to start on Tuesday along with captain Josh Casey. Nathan Collier performed admirably at right-back but will need to hold off new signing Tyler Reid if he’s to keep his place in the team, with Tyler an unused substitute on Saturday.
In midfield, Kane Ferdinand was passed fit and turned in an excellent performance alongside new signings Tommy Block and Charlie Cooper. It will be interesting to see if Dowse sacrifices one of his more defensive-minded players in a game where he’ll expect his side to see more of the ball, with the likes of Goddard and Max Kretzschmar options to play in a more advanced role. Moving Kretzschmar into a more central position would also allow room in the starting eleven for Tarpey, who could start in a front three alongside impressive Oxford United loan duo Malachi Napa and Slavi Spasov.
Last Time Out
Woking 4-0 Weymouth – National League (24th April 2010)
The Cards put bottom-of-the-table Weymouth to the sword on the final day of the season to clinch a National League South play-off place. Goals from Craig Faulconbridge, Giuseppe Sole, Nicky Nicolau and Moses Ademola sealed a comfortable victory for Graham Baker’s side, whilst a youthful Terras side were only able to name three substitutes. Woking eventually lost the play-off final to Bath City, whilst Weymouth finished bottom of the table with just 22 points, one of which came in the reverse fixture which finished 0-0.
The Cards travel to Chesterfield on Saturday before returning to the Laithwaite Community Stadium to take on Dagenham & Redbridge three days later.
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