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Cards seeking first win in four against promotion chasers

Glen Harrington - 20th March 2021

Cards seeking first win in four against promotion chasers Hartlepool United vs Woking
Vanarama National League
Saturday 20th March 2021

Woking travel to Hartlepool United for a challenging encounter against one of the divisions in form sides. The Cards will be looking to pull off a repeat of one of their best performances of the season from back in December, when they beat the Pools 3-0 at the Laithwaite Community Stadium.

Manager Alan Dowson was left fuming on Tuesday evening after his side conceded a late penalty to draw 1-1 with Altrincham. Kyran Lofthouse’s first goal for the club had earlier given the Cards a deserved lead but the home side were left to rue missed chances after Ben Gerring’s stoppage time foul. The result leaves Woking without a win in three, following the draw with Boreham Wood and the narrow defeat to Yeovil Town, although that was the first time the Cards have failed to win in their last five outings on a Saturday, rather than a Tuesday evening. That run of results leaves Woking sitting in 18th place in the league with 31 points, seven clear of the bottom three.

Hartlepool are enjoying an excellent season and currently sit in second place with 50 points from 29 games, six adrift of leaders Sutton United, albeit having played three games more. Since losing to Woking just before Christmas they’ve suffered defeat in just two of their last 16 league games, winning nine, including wins over Stockport County, Notts County, Sutton United, and Torquay United. They have suffered a slight dip of late however, winning one and drawing four of their games so far in March, including being held 2-2 at King’s Lynn Town on Tuesday, when they twice had to come from behind to claim a point.

Woking – Team News

Dowse has promised changes after Tuesday’s game and he has plenty of options for freshening up his team. Malachi Napa and Niko Muir were both unused substitutes that night, whilst Max Kretzschmar and Jayden Wareham played less than 10 minutes. Jack Cook is the only absentee having limped out of the previous game at Yeovil.

Hartlepool United – The Boss

The Monkey Hangers are coached by former Tranmere Rovers, Stockport County and Bury defender Dave Challinor, who is perhaps best known for his eight years managing AFC Fylde between 2011 and 2019. Challinor took Fylde from the Northern Premier League Division One North to the National League, winning three promotions in six seasons, before consecutive National League play-off appearances – including defeat to Salford City in the 2019 final – and an FA Trophy win. The 45-year-old left the Coasters in October 2019 and joined Pools a month later, guiding them to a 12th place finish last season.

One to Watch

Striker Luke Armstrong has been one of the most consistent strikers in the National League so far this season. The 24-year-old, who is on loan from Salford City, has scored 10 goals in 18 appearances since joining the club in December, including a brace on his debut against King’s Lynn. Before joining Salford, he enjoyed a prolific season at Blyth Spartans, which earned him a move to Middlesbrough in 2017. After loan spells at Gateshead and Accrington Stanley, he joined the Ammies in 2019.

Last Time Out

Woking 3-0 Hartlepool United – National League (12th December 2020)

Spurred on by the support of a socially distanced crowd at the Laithwaite Community Stadium, Woking turned in arguably their most memorable performance of the season, to claim a convincing win over Hartlepool. Matt Jarvis opened the scoring after less than two minutes, Jack Cook made it two as he turned in a Charlie Cooper set piece, and Slavi Spasov put the icing on the cake with a fine finish after good work from Ben Dempsey. Max Kretzschmar was sent off late on, but the Cards protected their lead with ease to claim a deserved three points.

Next Up

Woking travel to newly promoted Wealdstone on Tuesday, the two club’s first meeting since the infamous play-off semi-final of 2019, before the big game at Hereford in the FA Trophy semi-final next Saturday, when a place at Wembley will be on the table.

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