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Cards face National League leaders for semi-final spot

Glen Harrington
8:59am, Sat 27th Feb 2021
Woking vs Torquay United
Buildbase FA Trophy
Saturday 27th February 2021

Woking will aim to reach the last four of the FA Trophy for the first time in 15 years as they host National League leaders Torquay United on Saturday afternoon.

The Cards, who are playing in their first Trophy quarter-final since 2016, last reached the semi-final stage in 2006, on route to defeat in the final to Grays Athletic at Upton Park. They face a challenging task to match that achievement as they look to overcome the side who have topped the non-league pyramid for much of the season, although Alan Dowson’s side will be boosted by both last Saturday’s overdue league win over Barnet – courtesy of goals from Jamar Loza and Moussa Diarra – and their fine recent record against the Gulls, which has seen them win seven and draw five of the last 15 meetings between the two clubs since 2014.

Despite their less than stellar record against Woking, Torquay have enjoyed a hugely successful period under manager Gary Johnson, earning promotion to the National League alongside the Cards in 2019, where they went up as champions, surviving comfortably last season, before launching another promotion charge in this campaign. They currently lead the league by four points, with 14 wins and five draws from their 24 fixtures, although Sutton United – who the Cards defeated in the last round – do have three games still in hand. Torquay’s recent form has also been unremarkable considering their position, with only two wins from the last eight league games since the turn of the year.

Woking – Team News

Few would be surprised if Dowse went with the same team that beat Barnet last weekend, although that likely depends on whether captain Josh Casey is fit enough to return after six weeks out, with Kyran Lofthouse having filled in at left-back in his absence. John Goddard is also the only other long-term absentee having been out since the end of January.

Torquay United – The Boss

The hugely experienced Gary Johnson has won a remarkable 60 of his 107 games in charge of Torquay, leading them to promotion to the National League in his first season, and is now eyeing another promotion to the Football League, having won the same title with both Yeovil Town and Cheltenham Town during his career. The 65-year-old has also managed in the Football League with the likes of Bristol City, Peterborough United, and Northampton Town.

One to Watch

Former Card, Armani Little, has only featured nine times this season due to injury issues, with his last appearance coming at the start of February. He’s one of a number of key players currently sidelined, along with veteran forward Danny Wright. The 36-year-old, who was also part of Johnson’s Cheltenham promotion-winning side, has scored eight goals in just 17 appearances this season, but hasn’t played since Boxing Day. Midfielder Asa Hall remains a big threat and should start on Saturday, the former England youth player has 10 goals in all competitions this season.

Last Time Out

Torquay United 4-1 Woking – National League (28th December 2019)

The Cards, in the midst of a miserable Christmas period, were soundly beaten by Torquay at Plainmoor. Jake Hyde did give Woking the early lead, but the Gulls equalised through Asa Hall, and lead before half-time through start striker Jamie Reid. Ben Whitfield made the game safe for the home side before Ruairi Keating added insult to injury in stoppage time.

Next Up

The Cards travel to Altrincham on Tuesday evening for a rearranged fixture. That’s followed by the visit of King’s Lynn Town to the Laithwaite Community Stadium next Saturday.

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