Cards target another home win
9:07am, Thu 28th Sep 2017
Woking v Hartlepool United
Vanarama National League
3pm on Saturday 30 September 2017
A second away win, at AFC Fylde last Saturday, has pushed Anthony Limbrickâ€™s team into the play-off places, only one point off top spot. All credit to Anthony and the side for yet another resilient display, withstanding intense first half pressure to come good after the break. We can expect the Pools to provide a stiff test of the Cardsâ€™ excellent home record â€“ five wins out of six to date â€“ so come on down to the Laithwaite Community Stadium on Saturday to watch this exciting, young, committed Woking side face its next big challenge.
With the Cards racking up points at home so far, it was only the poor return on the sideâ€™s travels that has been holding the team back. But the win at Fylde doubled the points tally away from home and lifted the Cards to sixth place in the table, only one point behind leaders Sutton United, whom Woking beat in the previous, very memorable, home game.
Once again, as against Sutton and Macclesfield, the side had to weather intense pressure in the early part of the game and did well to come in only a goal down at the break, thanks to some terrific defensive work. That was reflected in keeper Nathan Baxter appearing in the Non-League Paperâ€™s â€˜team of the dayâ€™ for the second week running, joined this time by â€˜man of the matchâ€™ Josh Staunton. But a special mention must go, too, to midfielder Jordan Wynter, who proved once again a very capable deputy for Richard Orlu in central defence. After the break, the Cards showed once more how dangerous they can be going forward, with a strike from Joe Ward followed immediately by a wonderful header from Jamie Philpot.
With a small squad â€“ and Orlu, Fabio Saraiva, Joey Jones and Louis Ramsay all out injured â€“ Anthonyâ€™s ability to give players a rest has been limited, but he has started the last two games with Jamie Philpot, bringing Inih Effiong into the fray in the second half. Last Saturday, he reversed the previous practice of starting with Jason Banton and bringing on Charlie Carter.
It sounds as if Saraiva, Orlu and Jones may not be too far away from contesting at least a place on the bench, but it appears that the talismanic Banton may have been injured in training this week.
The Pools were relegated from League 2 last season along with Leyton Orient. Although the club had often struggled historically, the tumble from the League was quite rapid, with the Pools being in mid-table in League 1 as recently as 2012.
In recent years the clubâ€™s fame has had more to do with â€˜off the pitchâ€™ matters: the election of its mascot, Hâ€™Angus the Monkey, as Mayor of Hartlepool and the well-publicised support of Sky presenter, Jeff Stelling.
Craig Harrison was appointed as the new manager in May after previously winning the Welsh League for six consecutive seasons with The New Saints (TNS). Not surprisingly, he carried out much rebuilding of the squad in the summer. Arrivals in defence included keeper Scott Loach, joining from Notts County but with over 150 league appearances for Watford under his belt as well as a call-up to the full England squad in preparation for the Euro 2012 qualifiers; Blair Adams, a commanding centre back whom weâ€™ve seen playing for Cambridge United; Louis Laing, another central defender, joining from Inverness Thistle but with Sunderland, Nottingham Forest, Motherwell and Notts County previously; Keith Watson, a centre back arriving on loan from St Johnstone but previously with Dundee United for eight seasons; and another loanee, 20 year-old Michael Ledger from Sunderland.
Midfield additions include Luke George, who was previously captain at both Southport and Chester; Ryan Donaldson, who looks a very useful addition, having made over 30 appearances for Plymouth Argyle last season and a previous Conference play-off winner with Cambridge United; Jack Munns, joining from Cheltenham, where he was part of their promotion-winning side; Jonathan Franks, returning from Ross County, but with over 140 appearances already for the Pools during his previous spell in 2012-15; and Conor Newton, signing from Cambridge United, for whom he made over 30 appearances.
Up front, the new signing was Jake Cassidy from Guiseley but who played for Harrison at TNS.
Of the players remaining from last season perhaps the best known are skipper, defender Carl Magnay, formerly with Grimsby and Gateshead; midfielder Nicky Deverdics, who has previously proved a thorn in our side when at Dover; and striker Devante Rodney, who joined the club in January from Sheffield Wednesday. The Poolsâ€™ large squad includes a good number of Academy players, including 17-year-old striker Connor Simpson, which possibly bodes well for the clubâ€™s future.
The Pools had a very uncomfortable start to life in the National League, losing their opening game at home to Dover and going on to gain only one point in the following five fixtures. They then strung together four wins and a draw in the following five games, including beating Leyton Orient away, before coming unstuck last Saturday, with a 2-1 home defeat at the hands of Eastleigh. It sounds as if the Pools had plenty of possession but could not make sufficient inroads into a resilient Spitfiresâ€™ defence. Hartlepool now sit in 17th place, with 15 points from 12 games. Away from home, they have won two, drawn two and lost two.
Striker Jake Cassidy has been out injured for some time. Last Saturday Luke George, Keith Watson, Michael Ledger and Connor Newton were also all missing for various reasons.
This match will be segregated, with Hartlepool fans allocated the Chris Lane Terrace (open, standing) and a section of the covered Leslie Gosden Stand.
Over 65s Â£13
Disabled (Including carer) Â£13
Students (U19) Â£5
Season ticket holders have the chance to sample the delights of the Geoff Chapple Lounge for only Â£36. See the website for details.
Donâ€™t forget to grab a copy of â€˜Cardinalsâ€™. Only Â£3 for interviews, previews, match reports, Academy updates and great photos. Saturdayâ€™s edition features a â€˜where are they now?â€™ article, with lots of news of former Woking players.
The Cards are away to Chester this coming Tuesday, 3 October. The next home game the following Saturday, 7 October, is another attractive fixture, against John Stillâ€™s Dagenham and Redbridge, who show all the signs of putting in another strong promotion challenge this season.
Come on, you Cards!