Brian Caffarey
12:00am, Thu 25th Oct 2007
Woking v Staines Town
FA Cup, 4th Qualifying Round
3pm on Saturday 27 October 2007

Saturday sees our first ? and we hope not our last! ? appearance in the FA Cup this season. But our visitors, Staines Town, from the Ryman Premier League, have already battled through three rounds to reach this stage. For both clubs there?s a prize pot of ?10,000 at stake and, of course, the tantalising prospect of a big draw for whichever club manages to make it through to the First Round Proper in two weeks? time. (I?m sure Frank wouldn?t say ?no? to a tasty tie against one of his old clubs, Leeds United or Nottingham Forest! Darlington wouldn?t be quite as enthralling!) But we mustn?t get ahead of ourselves: Staines, though two leagues below, have been in excellent form and deserve to be taken very seriously. And we?ve had our hopes dashed many times before!


The Cards should be in good heart after a morale-boosting draw at Oxford United last Saturday in which they hit the woodwork three times and were unfortunate perhaps not to get all three points. The result lent support to Frank Gray?s view that the previous game, which saw a 3-0 defeat at home to York City, was just a ?blip? and that there is evidence that his young and inexperienced side is beginning to find its feet in the BSP. But we need to put away a few more chances ? and turn draws into wins ? if we are to move further up the table.

Kevin James?s arrival in midfield has been an important factor in our recent improved form, providing an experienced and reliable fulcrum in the centre of the park, complementing our generally very solid defence. We?ve seen signs too of more enterprising attacking intent from Danny Bunce and Matt Pattison in particular. Up front, Marvin Morgan continues to be great to watch, with his pace, unpredictability and surprisingly good touch causing headaches for the defenders who cluster around him but who often get left in his wake. More clinical finishing and improved accuracy in his lay-offs would turn him into a truly formidable player. On Saturday he will be without his recent strike partner, Joe Gatting, who is cup-tied. So, this would appear to provide an excellent opportunity for either Liam Marum, who came off the bench on Saturday for his first appearance this season after being injured in a pre-season friendly, or Giuseppe Sole to lay claim to a regular starting place. One of the frustrations this season is that Frank hasn?t yet been able to work out how to fit Gez Sole?s undoubted ? but different ? talent into the mix. Perhaps it?s time to give him another ?go? up front with Marvin?

Speaking to Frank Gray this (Thursday) evening, he confirmed that Joe Gatting?s loan deal with Brighton and Hove Albion excluded appearances in FA Cup games. Playing his cards typically close to his chest (if you?ll excuse the pun), Frank also confirmed that playing either Gez or Liam up front with Marvin was ?one of the options?. (Cards fans would be intrigued to know what the other options are!). Frank added that he had no injuries or suspensions to contend with, so, apart from Joe Gatting, there?s a full squad to choose from.

Frank emphasised that he was taking Staines very seriously. They have been watched three times, including twice by Frank himself. ?You have to give them great respect if you look at their league form this season and their results so far in the Cup?, Frank said. ?Of course, we ought to win but that?s not always the way it works?, he added. He recalled the time when Leeds as champions played Southern League Wimbledon and only went through after a replay. Frank agreed that the fact that Staines had had to play for 120 minutes in their FA Trophy replay midweek (see below) ought to work in our favour too. He stressed, though, that his view is that ?the game is there to be won? and that Staines will be confident and will be determined to do well.


1st Qualfying Round, 15 September
Brackley Town 0 Staines Town 0
The Swans (or Wheatsheafers or Massive (!) ? take your pick of nicknames) had to travel to Northamptonshire for their first taste of the FA Cup this season, holding the hosts ? who included Justin Jackson in their number! ? to a 0-0 draw.
Attendance: 255

1st Qualifying Round Replay, 18 September
Staines Town 0 Brackley Town 0 (a.e.t. Staines Town won 5-4 on penalties)
There was still no separating the sides after extra time in the replay. Shaun Allaway, the Wheatsheafers? keeper, made the crucial save in the penalty shoot-out, keeping out Brackley?s first effort before all succeeding nine penalties were converted.
Attendance: 140

2nd Qualifying Round, 28 September
Crowborough Athletic 1 Staines Town 5
The next round saw Staines travel to East Sussex to a club which had already battled through three rounds to reach the 2nd Qualifying Round. Staines started well, taking the lead through Marc Charles-Smith in the 9th minute after he seized on a header from Gareth Risbridger which had bounced off the bar. The Wheatsheafers continued to do most of the attacking but Crowborough pulled a goal back just before half-time. A penalty early in the second half, converted by Lewis Cook, gave Staines a 2-1 lead but they had to survive the dismissal of Adam Thompson before going on to make the game safe with a further penalty from Cook and two fine goals from Mark Nwojeki.
Attendance: 287

3rd Qualifying Round, 13 October
Brentwood Town 0 Staines Town 3
Staines reached the 4th Qualifying Round for the first time in ten years with a fine win over previously-unbeaten Brentwood Town of the Ryman Division One North. The first half ended goal-less, with the home side having had slightly better of the play. But early in the second half Mark Nwojeki ? clearly a man to watch! ? went on a great run and was tripped in the box. Dave Sargent converted from the spot. Nwojeki followed this up with two more strikes, both after tricky runs into the area.
Attendance: 277


Manager Steve Cordery, formerly in charge at Yeading, Hampton and Aylesbury, has put together a very useful-looking squad. Shaun Allaway in goal has an impressive pedigree. Only 24, he is a product of Reading?s Academy and represented England at U19 level. He was sold to Leeds for ?200k before moving to QPR and subsequently to Slough and then Staines. At the heart of central defence is 31 year-old Matt Flitter, who started off at Arsenal and QPR before a spell at Brentford. He was Kingstonian?s captain in the 2002/03 season before moving to Staines. Alongside him is another experienced defender in the shape of 30 year-old Dave Sargent, formerly with Northwood, St Albans City and AFC Wimbledon. Lewis Cook in midfield is one of several recruits from Maidenhead. Gareth Risbridger was previously with Southend and Yeovil amongst other clubs. Up front, Mark Nwojeki was Walton and Hersham?s top scorer before moving to Staines in February last year. He began his football career at Charlton and Colchester before moving on to Chesham and Walton and Hersham. He also had a spell at St Albans City. Fellow strikers include Victor Asombang, formerly with Hampton and Richmond Borough, and Marc Charles-Smith, who has also featured for Leatherhead and Chelmsford City. Perhaps the best known name in the Staines set-up is 39 year-old Craig Maskell, player-coach, who had a long league career starting at Southampton and ending at Leyton Orient.


Staines are going great guns in the Ryman Premier League. They have won seven, drawn three and lost only one game so far this season. They currently lie in third place, two points behind leaders Chelmsford City but with a game in hand. Their only defeat came at home by the only goal of the game at the hands of Wealdstone. Their last league game, on 17 October, watched by Frank Gray and Colin Lippiatt, saw them beat Harlow Town at home 3-0, with two goals from Victor Asambong and one from Marc Charles-Smith.

Their two most recent games, however, have been against Abingdon United in the FA Trophy. Abingdon, who are two leagues below the Wheatsheafers, proved very obdurate opponents last Saturday, holding their hosts to a 0-0 draw. In the replay at Abingdon on Tuesday evening the underdogs triumphed 5-2, sending Staines crashing out of the Trophy. Staines took the lead twice but were pegged back on both occasions, with United getting their second equaliser on the stroke of full-time. United then ran away with it in extra time, scoring three more goals. Let?s hope Staines, this Saturday?s underdogs, don?t redeem themselves in the Cup!

If a replay is required, it will be on Tuesday night at Staines.

Come on, you Cards!

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