By Gerry PrewettOn Saturday Bristol Rovers head off to western Surrey for their very first visit to Kingfield Stadium, Woking. Woking are currently in 7th Spot on the Vanarama Conference table, 5 places and 11 points behind Rovers having played the same number of games.
This weekend sees the top eight sides are all playing each other so there may well be a sake up in the standings by 5.00 pm on Saturday. Since beating Altrincham on 2nd December the Cards have played 7 League games and picked up just 3 points. They are desperate to get back some of those points.
On Tuesday they came from behind to progress into the third round of the FA Trophy thanks to a thunderous 25-yard strike from John Goddard, to stun Oxford City. In the 74th minute, the midfielder cut in from the left and unleased shot which rocketed into the top right-hand corner of the net.
The Conference North side shocked Kingfield Stadium by taking a third-minute lead thanks to Greg Pearson’s close-range conversion which caught out the Woking defenders. The Cards' backline failed to react to a quick low cross to the front post and Pearson drilled home from six yards, giving Jake Cole no chance.
Thirty minutes later the scores were level in dramatic fashion. Dean Morgan looking to break through the Oxford defence was hauled back by Alejandro Adrian Santiago and it left Referee Nigel Lugg no choice but to red card the Spaniard.
Midfielder Josh Payne slotted a delicately weighted curling effort into the left-hand side of De La Cruz’s goal for the equaliser. The Card’s Boss Gary Hill was very unimpressed by his team
Looking at the history of Woking Football Club, the Cards (from the Cardinal red of the red and white halves), was formed in 1889. They joined the West Surrey League in 1895/96, winning the title by one point on the final day of the season. However, within 21 years of being formed, the Club was in danger of folding for financial reasons.
In 1911 the Club joined the Isthmian League, maintaining their place in the top division for 72 years. Having won the Amateur Cup they then went into decline, culminating in a first-ever relegation in 1982/83. By the end of the 1984/85 season the Cards had plunged to Division Two South of the Isthmian League. After a series of battles with promotion and relegation promotion to the Conference was achieved in 1991/92. The Isthmian League title was clinched in early April, with seven games still to be played.
The FA Trophy was won in 1994, 1995 and 1997 and the Cards also achieved five successive top five finishes in the Conference, including being runners-up in 1994/95 and 1995/96. They went full-time in the summer of 2003 but financial problems forced them to revert back to part-time in summer 2010.
In 2012/13 they finished in a comfortable 12th place in their first season back in the Conference Premier and did even better last season, ending in 9th place after showing great form in the second half of the campaign.
Rovers only meeting so far with the Surrey team took place on 20th September last year at the Mem. The Gas took an early lead courtesy of a 3rd minute volley from Adam Cunnington. Dave Martin’s cross from deep was met by Cunnington who ghosted away from his marker at the far post.
With 10 minutes to go Daniel Leadbitter and Stuart Sinclair linked up well down the right before Leadbitter cut inside and was brought down by Castor to give away a free kick on the edge of the Woking penalty area.
Lee’s Mansell and Brown were both stood over the ball before the Rovers skipper curled a right-footed effort into the far corner of the goal to secure a 2-0 home win
News from Welling this week is that Garry Hill has snapped up Luton Town striker Ross Lafayette as he kept his promise to give his team a January shake-up. The 29-year-old ex-Welling United star, who netted 17 times for the Wings last season, signed on a one-month’s loan deal.
Hill had insisted previously that he would use the re-opened transfer window to bring in new players and repeated the pledge after the 2-1 success.
Talking about Rovers the Woking Boss said, “They are flying. Darren Clarke is fetching players in galore but they are in a position to do that. Hopefully we will rise to the occasion.”