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3:00pm - SaturdaySat 9th AugustAug 2014
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Alfreton Town
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Woking
Woking

Cards target successful start

Brian Caffarey
9:15am, Thu 7th Aug 2014
Alfreton Town v Woking
3pm on Saturday 9 August 2014

The real thing at last! Garry Hill’s side won’t lack confidence in travelling to Alfreton on Saturday but it is a tough place to visit for an opening fixture. The Reds had a particularly strong home record last season and will be looking to continue in that vein. Make the journey if you can but, if you can’t, make sure you’re at Kingfield for the first home game against Dartford on Tuesday evening. Let’s cheer the Cards on to a successful start to the season!

WOKING

The Cards will of course be missing the influential Kevin Betsy – out for some 12 weeks or so following his knee operation – and they will also have to cope without captain Mark Ricketts, carrying over a one-game suspension from last season. While the make-up of much of the side is fairly clear, there are uncertainties in particular about who will partner Joe McNerney in central defence, given that James Clarke has only played less than half of a pre-season game – impressing against a West Ham XI on Tuesday night; and whether anyone will start up front with Scott Rendell.

It remains to be seen, too, whether Garry will spring a last-minute surprise with a late signing.

ALFRETON TOWN

The Reds, under Nicky Law, were one of the surprise packages last season, their fourth in the Conference Premier, mounting a play-off bid that only faltered right at the end of the season when they had three points deducted for fielding an ineligible player. They finished in 11th place with 67 points, one point and two places below the Cards. But for the deduction, they would have pushed the Cards down to 10th place. Their home record was particularly impressive, with 13 wins, six draws and only four defeats all season, scoring 45 goals and conceding 33. Their challenge was founded to a considerable extent on the goalscoring prowess of John Akinde, who had trialled for Woking in the summer. Akinde notched 18 league goals but the Reds will have to look to others this season since Akinde joined Barnet this summer.

In spite of Alfreton’s successful campaign, Nicky Law has been busy in the transfer market, signing 12 new players at the last count. Nearly all of them seem to come with bags of experience of the non-League game and, often, some lower League experience too. Several too have already played for Alfreton at some stage in their careers. Notable additions include central defender Luke Graham, Hereford United’s captain last season; defender Chris Smith, York City’s captain in the year they won promotion to the League and the FA Trophy; midfielder Anthony Powell, returning after two successful years with Mansfield; and Duane Courtney, a defender, most recently with Tamworth. A quick returnee was England C international Dan Bradley, who decided that his recent move to Barnet had been a mistake.

The Reds will no doubt be hoping that experienced striker Paul Clayton, who scored seven league goals in 19 starts, and Tom Shaw, with eight in 34 starts, can plunder a few more this season to make up for the loss of Akinde. Jay McFadzean, brother of MK Dons’ Kyle, will also be looking to contribute from an attacking midfield role.

The Reds’ last pre-season game ended in a surprising 4-1 home defeat at the hands of Solihull Moors after some decent performances against League opposition.

GETTING THERE

The Impact Arena
North Street
Alfreton
Derbyshire
DE55 7FZ

Official website: www.alfretontownfc.com

By coach
The Cards Trust coach leaves Kingfield at 10.00am. The cost is £17 for members and £22 for non-members. Ring or email the Club Shop (01483 772470 or shop@wokingfc.co.uk) to book your place – assuming that there are still some seats left.

By car
From M1: Turn off at junction 28 onto the A38 towards Derby. Follow for two miles, then take the slip road onto the B600. Turn right at main road towards the town centre. After half-a-mile, immediately after the Catholic Church on left, turn left into North Street. The ground is 150 yards down on the right.

By train
Alfreton Station is about 15 minutes’ walk from the ground. You’d need to take a train from St Pancras International to either Nottingham or (slightly quicker) Chesterfield and then catch a train to Alfreton. For example, the 11.15 to Nottingham arrives there at 12.54, with a train to Alfreton leaving at 13.17 and arriving at 13.43. Or you could catch the 11.58 to Chesterfield, arriving at 13.43, and then the 13.52 to Alfreton, getting in at 14.02. Look up www.nationalrail.co.uk for options and prices.

The Alfreton website gives the following directions from the station: Leaving the station approach, turn right on Mansfield Road and up the hill towards the town centre. Take the second turn left onto Prospect Street (post office on left corner, chip shop on right). Continue for full length of Prospect Street. At top, cross Nottingham Road on a light-controlled pedestrian crossing. Facing you is a Roman Catholic church. North Street goes down the right-hand side of the church. 150 yards down, the ground is on your right, set well back.

ADMISSION PRICES

It looks as though admission prices are the same as last season:

£18 for each adult (aged 16 upwards)
£12 for senior citizens (persons aged 65 and over) and children 15 and under who are non Junior Reds members
£12 for students upon production of a student card at the turnstile on the day of the game
£3 for Junior Reds members (up to and including 15 year olds) provided they are accompanied through the turnstile by a paying adult.

Cheaper tickets can be purchased in advance by credit card by telephoning the Early Bird Match Ticket Administration Office on 01773 830277 Monday to Friday, 9am to 3.30pm each day. There is also a Group Saver scheme for five supporters or more. Look up www.alfretontownfc.com for more details of the ticketing arrangements.

LAST SEASON

Alfreton Town 3 Woking 1
7 September 2013

This was the Cards’ fourth defeat in a row in a worrying start to the season. Despite having plenty of possession Woking looked toothless up front in comparison with the Reds, for whom Akinde proved a handful. He set up Alfreton’s first goal in the 9th minute, scored by Tom Shaw. Woking were perhaps slightly fortunate to equalise through a Gavin Williams penalty a minute later but went 2-1 down before half-time when Shaw netted again following a half-cleared corner. The Reds wrapped up the game in extra time in the second half, with Danny Meadows slotting home from a counter-attack.

Woking 2 Alfreton Town 1
12 April 2014

This match followed a 3-0 home defeat by Cambridge United, which had ended the Cards’ sequence of six league wins and a draw. Missing Keiran Murtagh, and playing their fourth game in eight days, the Cards looked second best to Alfreton for much of the first half, with Akinde putting the Reds ahead in the 20th minute. Woking looked sharper in the second half and staged a late come-back. In the 80th minute Joey Jones headed home John Nutter’s free-kick off a post and, five minutes later, Jack Marriott superbly controlled a long ball and crashed home the winner.

NEXT GAMES

The Cards’ first home league game is on Tuesday evening when rivals Dartford are the visitors. Please come along if you possibly can to support the side. The Cards are then at home again on Saturday 16 August when Macclesfield Town come to Kingfield.


Come on, you Cards!






Cards off to winning start

Brian Caffarey
11:09pm, Sat 9th Aug 2014
Alfreton Town 1 Woking 3
9 August 2014

Those Woking fans who approached the season in an optimistic frame of mind will have felt vindicated by this convincing opening display from Garry Hill’s side, who thoroughly deserved their three-point haul. Alfreton grabbed an early goal against the run of play but Dean Morgan, looking sharp on his debut, soon levelled the score, with Scott Rendell netting twice after the break to give the Cards a fairly comfortable victory.

Aaron Howe got the vote over Jake Cole in goal; Joey Jones was chosen to partner Joe McNerney in central defence; and John Nutter started at left back in an otherwise predictable starting eleven, given the absence of Kevin Betsy and Mark Ricketts.

On a typically summery opening day of the season, on a pristine pitch, the Cards were quickly into their stride, with three attempts on goal in as many minutes, from Rendell, Jones and Morgan, followed by further efforts from Morgan again and John Goddard, with the latter then crashing a shot off the bar from 25 yards with 10 minutes on the clock.

But, in virtually their first attack, Alfreton struck to take the lead in the 14th minute. Clayton was allowed to smuggle the ball back from the byeline to an unmarked Stevenson, who drilled home inside Howe’s right-hand post.

The worry at this stage was that a muscular, direct Alfreton side might go on to expose further weaknesses in the Cards’ defending. However, although the Reds continued to threaten from set pieces and crosses, the Cards rallied well to regain the initiative.

The next chance fell to the unlikely feet of Adam Newton, played inside his opposite number by Keiran Murtagh, but the defender’s left-footed strike was just wide of the post.

Clayton should have done better with a free header from a corner before, in the 27th minute, Woking grabbed a deserved equaliser. The impressive Theo Lewis, through whom much of Woking’s attacking play flowed, won a corner, which was half-cleared, and there was Morgan to confidently fire home from a few yards out.

Alfreton picked up briefly, forcing a fine punch from Howe and a great tackle from Josh Payne, who was once again a powerful influence in midfield.

On the half-hour mark Lewis fired in a terrific cross which it looked as though Rendell only had to nod in but the ball flew on to Goddard, who did well to hook it back into the mix, with the keeper then making a fine save from Morgan before finally climbing above the same attacker at the far post to end an exciting sequence of play.

In the 40th minute Woking’s offside trap was sprung by Stevenson but his cross resulted in a weak header by Shaw to Howe.

The half ended after McNerney had headed wide from a corner. As the Cards trooped off they probably felt that, on the balance of play, they deserved to be in front.

Half-time: Alfreton Town 1 Woking 1

After an uneventful opening few minutes to the second half, apart from a booking for Jones, Woking’s pressure resumed with a blocked shot from Rendell, leading to claims of handball, with Lewis firing the follow-up into the side-netting. Perhaps the best move of the game followed as Lewis, Morgan and Goddard combined, with the last-named putting in a superb cross, which Rendell surprisingly failed to convert.

But it was only a brief reprieve for the home side as, in the 60th minute, Rendell, looking suspiciously offside in many eyes, latched onto a flicked through ball from Goddard and finished emphatically past the Reds’ keeper.

Mike Cestor then came on for Nutter, who appeared to have hurt his back.

Woking’s third goal quickly followed. Lewis did well to chase down an under-hit back header and then to back-heel it into Rendell’s path. The Cards’ top scorer last season made no mistake as he drew the keeper and fired home again.

Woking now looked well in control as Garry Hill brought on James Clarke, in place of Morgan, to partner McNerney, with Jones moving to a defensive midfield role in front of the back four.

Rendell nearly claimed his hat-trick when, put through by McNerney, he was thwarted by a fine save from the home keeper.

As the game moved into the final ten minutes Alfreton’s attacks became more intense, with Howe having to show safe hands on several occasions as he clutched deep crosses. Some sloppiness set into Woking’s defending as Cestor’s back-header fell short but the Cards’ luck was in as Sheridan blasted the ball against the bar from six yards out. Another good home chance was wasted when McDonald barely connected with Sheridan’s cross. Then Howe was called into action again, tipping Smith’s shot over the bar.

After these anxious moments Woking played out the last few minutes of the game easily enough, with Murtagh retaining possession well and the side nearly profiting from a couple of breaks from midfield.

This was a very encouraging performance from Garry Hill’s side. The quality was plain to see throughout the side, with nearly all the passing football coming from the visitors. As expected, the Cards’ midfield looked strong, with Lewis having a particularly fine debut on the right flank, working tirelessly and always posing a threat with the ball. Jones, too, had a good debut at centre back, winning a number of important headers and appearing assured when moving the ball out of defence. Morgan and Rendell looked a promising partnership up front, with the new man exuding confidence on the ball and looking sharp and eager. Howe punched and handled well in the face of a strong physical challenge from the home side.

No doubt the Cards will face tougher opposition – and there is of course a very long way to go – but this performance and result will reinforce the feeling that Garry has assembled his strongest squad yet and one which ought to be capable of at least matching, if not bettering, last season’s 9th place finish.

Come down to Kingfield on Tuesday evening, if you can, to cheer the side on against Dartford.

Woking: Aaron Howe, Adam Newton, Joe McNerney, Joey Jones, John Nutter (Mike Cestor 62), Theo Lewis, Josh Payne, Keiran Murtagh, John Goddard (Giuseppe Sole 90), Dean Morgan (James Clarke 76), Scott Rendell

Unused subs: Jake Cole, Reece Beckles

Goals: Dean Morgan 27, Scott Rendell 60 and 68

Bookings: Joey Jones

Alfreton Town: Jon Harris-Stewart, Bradley Wood (Nathan Hicks 84), Lathaniel Rowe-Turner, Luke Graham, Chris Smith, Lee Stevenson(Massiah McDonald 80), Paul Clayton, Dan Bradley, Anthony Howell, Tom Shaw (Jake Sheridan 66), Dan Gray

Unused subs: Jay McFadzean, Jordan Keane

Goals: Lee Stevenson 14

Bookings: None

My MOTM: Theo Lewis

Attendance: 613




Alfreton Town LINEUP
WOKING LINEUP
1Aaron Howe
2Adam Newton
3John Nutter ('62)
5Joe McNerney
25Joey Jones
7Josh Payne
8Keiran Murtagh
14Theo Lewis
22John Goddard ('90)
24Dean Morgan ('76)
9Scott Rendell
BENCH
23Jake Cole
3Mike Cestor ('62)
6James Clarke ('76)
10Giuseppe Sole ('90)
20Reece Beckles

Alfreton Town 1 - 3 Woking (Garry Hill Interview)

Alfreton Town 1 - 3 Woking (Mark Ricketts Interview)

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