STEVENAGE BOROUGH v WOKING
12:00am, Mon 8th Oct 2007
Stevenage Borough v Woking
7.45pm on Tuesday 9 October 2007
This is a game that always sets the pulses racing. We have a great record at Broadhall Way over the years but we are going to have to be really on our mettle this season to live with a Borough side who, before their recent couple of defeats, were looking almost invincible. Woking fans usually turn up in numbers for this game even on a weekday evening, so why not join them for one of the highlights of the season! Let?s hope we can punch a big hole in Stevenage?s promotion hopes once more!
The Cards should approach this game in a confident frame of mind after two successive victories over Northwich Victoria and Farsley Celtic eased them further away from the relegation places. But, of course, Stevenage can be expected to provide much tougher opposition than those two struggling sides. Up front, Marvin Morgan will presumably partner Joe Gatting if the on-loan Paul Hakim is unable to play against his parent club. At the back Matt Ruby, an unsung product of our Academy set-up, has shown that he is an able deputy for Tom Hutchinson if the latter is still not fit enough to play. [Note: see the later interview with Frank Gray for the updated team news.]
In the summer Mark Stimson, recently courted by Gillingham for their managerial vacancy, released six players from his FA Trophy-winning side, including Jamie Slabber, Mark Beard and Tony Thorpe. Subsequently Jon Nurse moved to Dagenham and Redbridge and reserve keeper Danny Potter signed for Cambridge United. More recently Stimson, demonstrating the strength of his squad, has allowed several players to go out on loan, including ex-Card Luke Oliver to Salisbury City, Damien Batt to St Albans and, of course, Paul Hakim to Woking.
Some pretty impressive-looking signings were made in the summer, confirming the bookies? view that Stevenage were one of the favourites for the title. Defender Mark Arber joined from Peterborough United; he was part of Barnet?s Conference-winning side. Midfielder John Martin arrived from Grays Athletic, where he played under Stimson. Another midfielder, Mark Molesley, was snapped up from Aldershot Town. Attacking options were strengthened with the capture of Ollie Allen, 20 year-old son of former Spurs favourite, Clive, and Tes Bramble, arriving from Stockport but previously with Southend, where he notched up 43 goals in some 150 appearances. Stimson also signed a few promising youngsters: winger Alistair John, a former Charlton trainee, who had the misfortune to be stabbed outside his house recently; James Russell, a 19 year-old keeper released by Chelsea; Jamie Eames, a 17 year-old winger from Norwich; and Jerome Anderson, an 18 year-old forward from Oxford United. When you add in the likes of Alan Julian in goal, Barry Fuller, John Nutter, Ronnie Henry and Santos Gaia at the back, Adam Miller in midfield, and Steve Morison and the exciting Mitchell Cole up front, it?s easy to see why Boro fans believe that this is their year.
SEASON SO FAR
Stevenage have often been let down in the past by a slow start to the season. Stimson brought the players back early to counter this and must have been disappointed to see his side lose their opening game 2-1 at Crawley. But Boro then went on a fantastic run, winning eight and drawing one of their next nine games, scoring 20 goals and conceding only one in the process. But a resolute Cambridge United side brought this great record to an end on 22 September when they went away from Broadhall Way with a 2-1 victory in front of over 4,000 fans. This was followed by a surprising 4-2 reverse away at Forest Green Rovers. But Boro have got back on track convincingly with a 2-0 away win at Grays Athletic, with Steve Morison and Mark Arber (penalty) getting the goals. Arber was on target from the spot again on Saturday as Stevenage swept Aldershot Town aside 3-1 after an own goal had given Boro the lead. Craig Dobson added the third. So, we will at least have the advantage of couple of days more rest.
We?ve got a tremendous record at Broadhall Way, having won six, drawn four and lost only three of our league games there. However, Stevenage fans will think that the Woking ?hoodoo? was well and truly broken last year when Boro did the double over us. In the away game in October we started badly, going a goal down in five minutes as Dwayne Lee headed home a Steve Guppy cross. Ten minutes later Karl Murray equalised from a free-kick whilst Alan Julian was still fussing about his ?wall?. Ollie Berquez had the satisfaction of scoring against his old club in the second half, netting coolly after Gez Sole?s shot had been blocked. But it all went wrong in the last five minutes. Karl Murray inexplicably handled in the box to make it 2-2 and then with the last move of the match Jon Nurse sent over a fantastic cross, which Craig Dobson buried, to make it 3-2 to Boro. Switch to Kingfield in March this year and a relegation-haunted Woking side made Alan Julian work for his money but succumbed to a solitary goal from Steve Morison in the first half.
Tel: 01438 223223
by coach ? why not take it easy and go on the Supporters? Club coach? It leaves Kingfield at 4.30pm and the cost is ?11 for members and ?15 for non-members. Ring the Club Shop (01483 772470) to book a place.
by car ? if you are driving, approach Stevenage on the A1(M). Take the Stevenage South (A602) exit off the A1(M) and the ground is on the right at the second roundabout. For parking, go straight across that roundabout and use the Showground opposite the stadium. In theory the journey should take about an hour, but allow longer for rush-hour traffic.
by train ? if you are going by train, there is a good service from Kings Cross. The 18.20 gets in at 18.41, the 18.23 at 18.47 and the 18.36 at 19.10. It?s about a 25 minute walk from the station or you can get a bus or a taxi. (For the Number 4 bus, take the station footbridge past the Gordon Craig Theatre to the town centre.) If you are walking, go down the first flight of stairs on the right as you go along the footbridge, go right at the bottom, follow the road along past the police station, go down the steps into the underpass, turn right, go left up from the underpass past Roaring Meg and keep going down the main road until you reach the retail park on your left. Head diagonally across through the stores until you reach the footpaths leading to the ground: there are signs for away supporters.
OTHER THINGS YOU MIGHT WANT TO KNOW
? away fans: are accommodated in a fully-covered, all-seater South stand behind one of the goals. There are also usually some seats for away fans in the adjacent stand along one side of the ground
? admission prices: adults ?15, concessions ?12
? pubs/food: there are several ?fast food? outlets in the retail park just opposite the ground, including a Pizza Hut and a Burger King. There are no pubs in the immediate vicinity of the ground
? colours: Stevenage play in red and white, so the Cards will be in their away strip.
Come on, you Cards!