LCS Events
FCP
7:45pm - MondayMon 17th MarchMar 2014
| Att: 6683

Luton Town
Luton Town
0 - 1

Woking
Woking

Cards' big TV test

Brian Caffarey
8:43pm, Fri 14th Mar 2014
Luton Town v Woking
7.45pm on Monday 17 March 2014

The toughest away trip of the season is in prospect for Garry Hill’s side as they take on runaway leaders, the Hatters, at Kenilworth Road on Monday evening. It may look a forlorn hope on paper but Woking have beaten some top sides away from home (Barnet, Gateshead and FC Halifax Town) and are talented enough to cause a surprise if they reproduce the form shown at those grounds. The game will be televised and, while Garry has urged Cards fans to travel if at all possible to provide vocal support on the night, the match will be shown in the Cardinals Bar for those who are not able to make it to Luton. (The Bar opens at 5.30pm, with draught beers at only £2 a pint before kick-off while stocks last. There is also a 20% food discount from Striker Bites.)

WOKING

The Cards are in good shape after successive victories away at Barnet and at home to Southport, results which all but removed any lingering fear of relegation – something which Garry Hill was always absolutely confident would be avoided.

Woking’s talented midfield of Kevin Betsy, Keiran Murtagh, Josh Payne and the emerging John Goddard are good enough to cause problems for any team in this league, whilst, up front, Scott Rendell – who would no doubt relish scoring a goal or two at his former club – and Jack Marriott provide the striking prowess which the Cards lacked earlier in the season. Jack had a slightly frustrating game against Southport, but let’s hope that the opportunity to shine on a big stage on Monday brings the best out of him.

A lot will turn on whether the Cards’ defence can provide a solid enough platform to give Woking a foothold in the game against a Luton strike force which has frequently shredded the opposition of late. The Cards will perhaps miss Mike Cestor’s strength and speed of recovery but the ever-dependable Mark Ricketts has formed an effective central defensive partnership with Joe McNerney in recent games.

LUTON TOWN

The Hatters look destined at last to recover the Football League place they’ve been striving to regain ever since they were demoted to the Conference at the end of the 2008-09 season. The campaign began inauspiciously with an away defeat at Southport but Luton soon began picking up wins and a scattering of draws, their momentum ever increasing as the season progressed. December saw four straight wins over promotion rivals Alfreton, Barnet, Kidderminster and Gateshead, while in February it was goals galore as the Hatters beat Hereford 7-0 at home, Nuneaton 5-0 away and Wrexham 5-0 at home. Their last three games have seen them beat Alfreton 3-0, draw 0-0 at Salisbury and draw 1-1 at Cambridge United, the early season pace-setters, whose form has dipped as Luton’s has soared. Apart from their opening day defeat at Southport, Luton’s only other league defeat was way back in September when they lost 2-0 at Wrexham.

Going into the weekend, the Hatters have a 15 point lead over Cambridge United, having played one game more.

The appointment of the hugely-experienced John Still back in February last year seems to have been the critical move by Luton. He brought in several former Daggers including striker Paul Benson, on loan from Swindon Town, and defender Scott Griffiths. Other additions included Anthony Charles, a Conference title-winner with Barnet and Aldershot; Luke Guttridge, a midfielder from Northampton with over 400 League appearances to his name; Jim Stevenson, a midfielder from Histon; and defender Danny Fitzsimons, another capture from Histon. More recent arrivals include former Welling defender Fraser Franks, whilst loan players include midfielder Cameron McGeehan from Norwich. Other well-known members of the Luton squad include defender Jake Howells, striker Jon Shaw, keeper Mark Tyler, midfielder Alex Lawless and, of course, top scorer Andre Gray.

GETTING THERE

Kenilworth Road Stadium
1 Maple Road
Luton
Beds
LU4 8AW

By coach
The Cards Trust coach leaves Kingfield at 4pm. The cost is £16 for members and £21 for non-members. Ring the Club Shop on 01483 772470 to book a place or email shop@wokingfc.co.uk

By car
Exit the M1 at Junction 11, and join the A505 towards Luton. Follow the A505 for approximately 1.5 miles and Kenilworth Road is on your right as you leave the one-way system along Dunstable Road. Luton’s website offers the following advice re parking: To park, follow the one-way around, turning left, right and right again all in about 100 yards so that you do a complete U-turn and then take the second left into Ash Road. Continue down to the bottom, turn left at the end and the club is in front of you. Continue straight past the club and the road bends immediately over a dual carriageway bridge. Beyond this is plenty of street parking (and a great fish shop) if you are early.

By train
There are frequent Midland Mainline trains from St Pancras International to Luton, taking roughly half an hour. There are also frequent, but slower, First Capital Connect services from Blackfriars, London Bridge, Farringdon and Kings Cross. The station is a 10-minute walk from the ground. From the station, turn right into Station Road, which runs into Mill Street. At the junction, turn left into Telford Way and right into Dunstable Road. Oak Road (the away end) is the fifth on the left about a third of a mile along.

ADMISSION PRICES

Adults (22-64) £18, Young Adults (17-21) and Seniors (65-75) £13, Golden Seniors (over 75s) £10, Youths (10-16) £8, Juniors (under 10s) £5.

Woking fans will be seated in the Oak Road Stand at one end of the ground.

LAST TIME OUT

Woking 0 Luton Town 1
FACQ4
26 October 2013

The Cards avoided a repeat of the heavy home defeat in the league against the Hatters but could not do enough to dispel their miserable recent record in the FA Cup.

The Cards brought in Gez Sole to replace Scott Rendell, who was not permitted to play against his parent club. There was little to choose between the two sides in an even first half but, crucially, Sole missed a great chance on the half-hour mark when one-on-one with the keeper, blasting high and wide, whereas a few minutes later Mark Cullen, scorer of two headed goals in the Cards’ 4-0 home league defeat, got on the end of another corner to head home. Woking put the Luton defence under considerable pressure before half-time, with a Josh Payne pile-driver bringing an excellent save from the Hatters’ keeper, but still found themselves going into the break a goal down.

The Cards had their full share of the game in the second half but, despite throwing Joe McNerney forward towards the end, could not break down a solid Luton defence, marshalled by the formidable Steve McNulty.

Woking: Sam Beasant, Adam Newton, John Nutter, Mark Ricketts, Joe McNerney, Jack Parkinson, Josh Payne, John Goddard (Anthony McNamee 67), Giuseppe Sole (George Frith 80), Gavin Williams (Craig Sutherland 72), Kevin Betsy.

Unused subs: Aaron Howe, Will Salmon, Niall Wright, Reece Beckles

Cautions: None

Luton Town: Elliot Justham, Jonathon Smith, Steve McNulty, Anthony Charles, Jake Howells, Dave Martin (Andre Gray 72), Mark Cullen, Shaun Whalley, Matt Robinson (Andy Parry 77), Ronnie Henry, Paul Benson

Unused subs: Solomon Taiwo, Mark Tyler, Alex Wall, James Stevenson

Cautions: Anthony Charles, Shaun Whalley, Paul Benson

Attendance: 1452


NEXT GAME

The postponement of the Cards’ home game against Cambridge United on 22 March, due to the U’s FA Trophy Final engagement with Gosport Borough, means that Garry Hill’s side aren’t in action again till the home game v Wrexham on Saturday 29 March.

Come on, you Cards!


Magnificent Cards stun league leaders

Brian Caffarey
9:01am, Tue 18th Mar 2014
Luton Town 0 Woking 1
The Skrill Premier
17 March 2014

What a magnificent performance from Garry Hill’s side! The message from inside the Woking camp before the game was that the Cards ‘would go for it’ against the league leaders – and that’s exactly what they did, taking the game to the Hatters right from the off and completely dominating proceedings in the first half. They had to ride their luck a little in the second period but were still very much in contention – before Gez Sole rounded off a perfect evening in front of the BT cameras, nodding home in the 87th minute after Keiran Murtagh’s volley had struck the bar.

Woking lined up as expected in an attacking 4-4-2 formation, fielding the same side that had recorded wins at Barnet and at home to Southport. Luton, while possessing a tremendous home record, went into the game on a bit of a blip, having played below their best in draws at Salisbury and Cambridge United – a loss of form which Woking exploited fully on the night. Every Woking outfield player performed out of their skin – Aaron Howe, in goal, didn’t have to, being forced to produce only one ‘top drawer’ save, although the woodwork twice came to his aid in the second half. In defence Joe McNerney, winning almost everything in the air, and Mark Ricketts were wonderfully solid, while John Nutter and Adam Newton rarely allowed anything past them, and even more rarely, allowed any crosses in. The Woking midfield, marshalled by ‘man of the match’ Josh Payne, was simply superb. Josh and Keiran Murtagh bossed the central midfield, whilst Kevin Betsy, hugging the right touchline, provided a constant outlet, tormenting the Luton defence as the Cards frequently made good progress down that side. The hard-working John Goddard not only provided an outlet on the left flank but popped up all over the pitch, even to be found supporting Kevin on the opposite flank. Up front, Scott Rendell, enjoying his return to Kenilworth Road, worked his socks off, winning a lot of useful balls, and Jack Marriott, up against Luton’s very effective ‘man mountain’ Steve McNulty, always presented a threat.

The Cards were quickly into their stride, setting the pattern for the half as they moved the ball around intelligently, keeping possession well and stretching the Luton defence. The attacking intent was evident straightaway as Marriott hit the penalty area in the 3rd minute, with his shot blocked, followed by Payne trying a volley from distance. More Woking pressure followed as Betsy and Goddard fired in efforts.

The Cards came agonisingly close to taking the lead in the 8th minute when a piledriver from Payne crashed against the angle of bar and post – a fantastic strike which deserved a goal.

Luton’s only threat at this stage came from a couple of corners, which were capably defended and which were quickly turned into counter-attacks as Betsy forced the Luton keeper into a save at his near post and then cut back a dangerous cross from the bye-line. Yet another quick break saw Betsy, Goddard and Rendell combine sweetly to win another corner, with Betsy testing the keeper again on a subsequent break out of defence.

On 29 minutes Luton finally mounted an attack of note. Predictably, it was the quicksilver Andre Gray who threatened, latching onto a through ball. He managed to lift the ball over the onrushing Howe but also over the bar.

The familiar pattern resumed, though, as Payne went close at the end of a nicely-worked Woking move, side-footing just past the post.

Luton threatened again in the 34th minute when Howe was only able to half-punch clear from a corner before his defenders completed the job. Once more Woking took the game to the hosts, with Betsy continuing to bemuse the Luton defence. Marriott’s persistence nearly paid off as he managed to get his toe onto a ball which was being ushered back to the Luton keeper. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to take advantage of his enterprise as the keeper was able to gain possession.

In the 41st minute Woking finally got the ball in the net from a free-kick but Rendell was judged to be marginally offside: a decision which was apparently confirmed by the TV cameras.

As the Cards left the pitch at the interval after a brilliant first half the only regret was that they hadn’t been able to establish the lead that their excellent football had deserved, especially since Luton would surely come into the game more after the break.

Half-time: Luton Town 0 Woking 0

There was no sign of this, however, in the opening phases of the second half as the Cards continued to look the more dangerous side, with Goddard hitting a volley into the ground after another fine move, and with the defence dealing comfortably with sporadic Luton attacks. John Still, presumably taking the same view, started to ring the changes as early as the 56th minute.

Almost inevitably, the home side, roared on by a passionate crowd, began to produce chances. A cross-cum-shot from Jake Howells out on the Luton left curled in wickedly over Howe and off the inside of the far post before being hacked clear off the line. Gray was beginning to look lively and was most aggrieved when he went down on the edge of the area under the attentions of two Woking defenders – but the referee waved play on. A couple of minutes later he nearly profited from a ball chipped through to him but the Woking defence managed to smuggle it away to safety before he could shoot.

Woking continued to see a good deal of the ball but attacks at this stage tended to break down as balls directed towards Rendell and Marriott were over-hit or intercepted. The most promising opportunity arose when Murtagh burst forward, slipping the ball left into Marriott’s path, but the move broke down disappointingly with a misunderstanding between the two.

Luton came to life again in the 72nd minute when Howe was forced to tip a 25-yarder from Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu over his bar.

As the game moved into the final ten minutes of normal time the Cards continued to look comfortably set for a draw but were nearly undone when an Alex Lawless cross hit the post with the rebound being blocked by Nutter – to cries for a penalty from the Luton fans.

Just as we wondered whether the Cards could safely see the game out for a highly commendable draw Garry Hill’s side produced a final twist with three minutes to go. Murtagh won a crucial tackle to set up an attack and was in the box when Betsy’s pass reached him. His volley struck the bar but there was Gez Sole, only just on as a substitute, to nod home from close range to put the Cards in front.

The four minutes of added time saw Woking mount several useful attacks, including an enterprising Murtagh sally along the Luton bye-line, but also saw a dangerous shot by Benson blocked and the ball skied over the bar from a corner before the referee blew time and the Cards’ celebrations could begin.

All credit to those Luton fans who, at the end, though disappointed by their own side’s below-par performance, applauded the Woking players off the pitch, recognising that this was an outstanding display from a part-time side who came to Luton with the intention of outplaying the league leaders and duly did so. Luton will undoubtedly deservedly gain promotion but, on this night, were second best to a side on top form.

The Cards now find themselves only six points off the play-off places, although that gap will widen before they take the field again at home to Wrexham on 29 March. Had Garry Hill been able to assemble this side at the beginning of the campaign, the Cards would surely be among the play-off places but who’s to say a late charge is out of the question?

Woking: Aaron Howe, Adam Newton, John Nutter, Mark Ricketts, Joe McNerney, Kevin Betsy, Josh Payne, Keiran Murtagh, John Goddard (Joey Jones 89), Scott Rendell, Jack Marriott (Giuseppe Sole 85)

Unused subs: Sam Beasant, Mike Cestor, Reece Beckles

Cautions: Josh Payne

My MOTM: Josh Payne (pictured): another commanding display from the midfield maestro

Luton: Mark Tyler, Fraser Franks, Steve McNulty, Alex Lawless, Jake Howells (Andy Parry 61), Scott Griffiths, Cameron McGeehan (Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu 56) , Matt Robinson (Mark Cullen 74), Ronnie Henry, Paul Benson, Andre Gray

Unused subs: Elliot Justham, Jon Shaw

Cautions: Scott Griffiths

Attendance: 6683
Luton Town LINEUP
WOKING LINEUP
1Aaron Howe
2Adam Newton
3John Nutter
5Joe McNerney
4Mark Ricketts
20Josh Payne
26Keiran Murtagh
11Kevin Betsy
22John Goddard ('89)
21Scott Rendell
25Jack Marriott ('85)
BENCH
18Sam Beasant
30Joe Jones ('89)
15Mike Cestor
10Giuseppe Sole ('85)
34Reece Beckles

Garry Hill Interview from Luton

Nick Shaw
10:40pm, Mon 17th Mar 2014
John Moore speaks to Garry Hill after Woking's 1-0 win at Skrill Premier leaders Luton Town tonight.

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