Cards face tough trip
5:35pm, Sun 6th Mar 2016
Eastleigh v Woking
Vanarama National League
7.45pm on Tuesday 8 March 2016
The Cards make the potentially very difficult trip to Eastleigh on Tuesday evening, knowing that the home side will be desperate for a win to keep their flagging play-off hopes alive, whilst Garry Hillâ€™s side cannot have had their confidence boosted by yesterdayâ€™s home defeat by Dover Athletic: the Cardsâ€™ fourth successive league loss.
The Cards were distinctly second best to Dover in the first half yesterday and, but for some fine goalkeeping by Jake Cole and a degree of good fortune, would have gone in at half-time more than a goal down. Woking played considerably better in the second half but could not find a way to grab an equaliser. The defeat leaves Woking in 11th place in the table with 49 points.
Striker Daniel Carr, having just arrived on loan from Cambridge United, made his first appearance for the Cards. Carr played against Woking last year while on loan to Aldershot Town. Matt Butcher made his first appearance at the Laithwaite Community Stadium, but neither was able to influence the game greatly against a committed Dover side, who closed down quickly and effectively.
The Spitfires, with their strong financial backing, came fourth last season in their first campaign in the Conference National, losing out home and away to Grimsby Town in the semi-final play-off. An unimpressive start to this campaign saw manager Richard Hill leave towards the end of September, with defender Chris Todd eventually being handed the managerial reins on a permanent basis.
The Spitfiresâ€™ 1-0 defeat of Cheltenham Town last Tuesday, courtesy of a bizarre own goal, ended a run of 10 league games without a win. But, worryingly for Eastleigh fans, this proved not to be turning point for, yesterday, they lost 2-0 at Braintree Town, who now themselves look a good bet for a play-off place â€“ which would be a terrific achievement for a small part-time club. The defeat leaves Eastleigh in 10th place, seven points behind fifth-placed Tranmere Rovers with two games in hand.
The large, talented, Eastleigh squad is packed with well-known non-League players, including ex-Card Josh Payne and former loan favourite Yemi Odubade. The quality available to manager Chris Todd is exemplified by the fact that neither started in the Spitfiresâ€™ last two games. Ex-Barnet keeper Ross Flitney is the regular number one; at the back Todd can call on the likes of Jamie Turley (suspended for Tuesdayâ€™s game), Luke Coulson and Dan Harding; in midfield, in addition to Payne, the squad includes Jai Reason, ex-Luton star Andy Drury and Ben Strevens, although the last-named is serving out a seven-match suspension. The difference in resources is particularly telling up front where Todd can choose between Jack Midson, Matt Tubbs, Lee Cook, James Constable and Kaid Mohamed. Todd could even afford to allow Ross Lafayette to go on loan to the Shots.
A very recent addition is U19 Republic of Ireland midfielder Tom Hollander, on loan from Swansea City.
James Constable is top scorer with 17 goals. High-profile signing Matt Tubbs, lured from Portsmouth, has yet to find the net.
(NB. Eastleigh used to advise not to use this postcode for Satnav purposes. Not sure if that still applies.)
The Cards Trust is not running a coach to this game.
Take the M3 to J13. Turn right into Leigh Road. Go on till the crossroads and turn right at lights into Passfield Avenue. Go past Fleming Park Sports Centre on right. At the roundabout take second exit; at the next take the first exit; go past Concorde Club. Take the first turning right into Stoneham Lane and the ground is 100 yards on left-hand side.
The ground is about a 15/20 minute walk from both Eastleigh and Southampton Airport Parkway stations, which are on the same line and can be reached easily from Woking.
Unfortunately, though, there are engineering works on the way back, with part of the journey having to be made by bus. On the way there the following trains from Woking to Eastleigh donâ€™t involve a change: 17.34 (arrives 18.24), 18.04 (18.54), 18.13 (18.58; arrives Southampton Airport Parkway 19.02) and, cutting it very fine, 18.35 (19.25). (There are other trains to Eastleigh and Southampton Airport Parkway which involve a change and therefore take longer.) On the way back, the journey comprises a train to Winchester, a bus from there to Basingstoke and then a train to Woking. The 22.12 from Eastleigh (22.08 from Southampton Airport Parkway) would get you to Woking at 23.33 and the 22.50 (22.46 from Southampton Airport Parkway) would see you there at 00.18.
Ticket prices bought on the day are: Adults: Â£15, Senior Citizens: Â£10, Students: Â£10, U16s:Â£4, U7s: Free
Away fans are accommodated in the South Stand, entering by gates 10 and 11.
LAST TIME WE MET
Woking 1 Eastleigh 1
1 January 2015
The Cards went into this game without a win in their previous six league games, which included, most recently, a 2-1 home defeat at the hands of Aldershot Town. But Woking had knocked the Spitfires out of the FA Trophy and had drawn against them, 2-2, on Boxing Day at the Silverlake Stadium.
With virtually the last kick of the game, Jack Marriott fired a hard-earned equaliser to give Woking a welcome share of the points at a chilly Kingfield. The Spitfires took the lead in the 69th minute with a header from former Card Craig McAllister. Woking improved as the second half wore on but were unable to create many clear opportunities until a clever reverse ball from Kevin Betsy set Marriott free to blast home with the four minutes of added time all but up.
Woking: Jake Cole, Adam Newton, Joe McNerney, James Clarke, Josh Payne, Kevin Betsy, Theo Lewis (Giuseppe Sole 79), Jack Marriott, Joey Jones, Dean Morgan, Chris Arthur
Unused Subs: Keiran Murtagh, John Nutter, John Goddard, Andy Little
Goal: Marriott 90+4
Eastleigh: Ross Flitney, Dan Spence, Michael Green, Craig Stanley (James Collins 60), James Constable, Jai Reason (Yemi Odubade 67), Craig McAllister (Stuart Fleetwood 79), Jack Midson, Ben Strevens, Will Evans, Paul Reid
Unused Subs: Lewis Noice, Chris Todd
Goal: McAllister 69
The Cards have another very tough trip on Saturday (12 March), when they travel to Cheltenham Town. The Cardsâ€™ home game against Grimsby Town on Saturday 19 March has been postponed because of the Marinersâ€™ involvement in the FA Trophy semi-finals, so their next home game is against Kidderminster Harriers on Easter Saturday, 26 March. (The game against Grimsby will now take place on Tuesday 19 April.)
Come on, you Cards!
P.S. Make sure youâ€™ve got next Thursday (10 March) in your diary, when a Celeb X1 take on a Woking Legends XI in the Knights Cup. Among those parading their skills will be Matt Le Tissier, Paul Merson, Darren Anderton and Tim Buzaglo. Entrance is free for U16s.
Come on, you Cards!