3:00pm - SaturdaySat 12th DecemberDec 2020
The Laithwaite Community Stadium | Att: 799

3 - 0

Hartlepool United

Fans return as Woking take on Hartlepool

Glen Harrington
12:00am, Sat 12th Dec 2020
Woking vs Hartlepool United
Vanarama National League
Saturday 12th December 2020

Fans will be welcomed back to the Laithwaite Community Stadium for the first time in nine months this afternoon as Woking take on Hartlepool United in the National League.

The Cards will be hoping that the support of a home crowd can power them to a first win this month after back-to-back 1-0 defeats against Sutton United and Notts County were followed by last Tuesday night’s postponement at Altrincham. Alan Dowson’s side will be buoyed by a strong home record which has seen them win three and draw two of their six game at the Laithwaite so far this season.

Hartlepool currently sit four places and one point above the Cards, in seventh place, with a near identical record – with the same number of games played, the same number of wins, and the same number of goals conceded. They have managed one additional draw but have scored two goals less. They started the season in excellent form, winning their first three league games and taking 11 points out of a possible 15, before a shock 5-0 home defeat against Torquay United halted their momentum. They’ve since managed just two wins out of six but did pick up all three points last time out, defeating King’s Lynn Town 2-0 at home. Their last away win came at Yeovil Town in mid-November.

All of the relevant ticketing information for the game can be found here on the club website and, for those of you unable to make the game, you can continue to watch via the #CardsLive stream.

Woking – Team News

Dowse will be hoping that the bonus recovery time following Tuesday’s postponement will have given top scorer Kane Ferdinand time to recover from the injury he sustained against Notts County. Elsewhere, both Kyran Lofthouse and Slavi Spasov have had their loans from Oxford United extended for another month, so are both available for selection again this afternoon.

Hartlepool United – The Boss

The Monkey Hangers are coached by former Tranmere Rovers, Stockport County and Bury defender Dave Challinor, who is perhaps best known for his eight years managing AFC Fylde between 2011 and 2019. Challinor took Fylde from the Northern Premier League Division One North to the National League, winning three promotions in six seasons, before consecutive National League play-off appearances – including defeat to Salford City in the 2019 final – and an FA Trophy win. The 45-year-old left the Coasters last October and joined Pools a month later, guiding them to a 12th place finish last season.

One to Watch

Hartlepool boast one of the National League’s most highly-rated goalkeepers in the form of England C international Ben Killip. The former Chelsea and Norwich City youth team player moved to Grimsby Town and played 10 times for the League 2 outfit during the 2017/18 season. From there, he joined Braintree Town, and was one of the shining lights in a side relegated from the National League. He was signed by Hartlepool before the start of last season and has now played more than 75 times in the fifth tier. Both Killip and opposite number Craig Ross could be key today.

Last Time Out

Woking 2-1 Hartlepool United – National League (7th December 2020)

Hartlepool will be relieved not to see Paul Hodges lining up against them later today after the winger tormented them in both games last season. After scoring a late equaliser in the reverse fixture he came of the bench to make a huge impact for the home side here, setting up Jake Hyde for the leveller inside a minute, cancelling out Gime Toure’s first-half opener. Ten minutes later, Dave Tarpey scored what would prove to be both the winner and the club’s goal of the season, with a stunning strike into the left-hand top corner.

Next Up

The Cards make the short trip to Raynes Park Vale on Tuesday evening in the Surrey Senior Cup. Next Saturday we’re back at home, this time in the FA Trophy, when Dover Athletic will be the visitors.

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�Welcome home�: Woking’s winning return to football with fans

Ben Musgrove
12:00am, Sat 12th Dec 2020
Woking 3 Hartlepool United 0
Vanarama National League
12th December 2020

On 10th March 2020, Kingfield hosted 1,486 fans. Woking lost. It poured with rain. There were more individual mistakes than moments of quality. But it was football.

That was a Tuesday; by Friday, Woking’s next game had been called off. The rest of the season would follow suit, along with normal life in general.

277 days later, 799 fans returned to the hallowed Kingfield turf. Woking won. The sun shone. There were several moments of absolute quality – and some hilarious mistakes. But most importantly, once more, we have football. The hard work of volunteers, and the exemplary conduct of the spectators, have claimed back a little slice of normal life.

As wonderful as it is to be back, it must be said that Woking have performed above all expectations this season in the absence of fans, with the Cards starting the day three points off of third. Consecutive 1-0 defeats to Sutton United and Notts County in the lead-up were frustrating but outweighed by drubbings of Dover Athletic and Barnet. The only change in personnel from the County game – Matt Jarvis taking the place of Kane Ferdinand – was necessitated by injury.

Kick off brought the first roar from the Kingfield Road End for nine months, and the Woking faithful would barely have to wait 120 seconds for their first moment to savour. From Woking’s first attack a lung-bursting run from Kyran Lofthouse down the Hartlepool left went unchallenged, and the Oxford United loanee was able to float a ball into the Pools’ six-yard box. With the visitors unconvincing in their efforts to clear, the bouncing ball fell to Matt Jarvis, who fired a dipping volley past Ben Killip and into the bottom corner.

As homecomings go, a technically brilliant goal from a former England international inside the first three minutes isn’t bad.

The quick start would set the pace of the first half. Woking rarely line up in a 4-4-2, but Alan Dowson had chosen to match Hartlepool and press the visitors on a man-to-man basis. With both teams playing the same formation and trying to maintain a high line, pushing their strikers onto the opposition backline, chances were aplenty in the opening stages. Slavi Spasov (picture above) should have done better with a Jarvis flick-on that he scuffed straight at Killip, while Gavin Holohan wasted Hartlepool’s first shot of the game from twenty yards thanks to an unfortunate slip as he struck the ball.

It barely took Woking five minutes to punish that bit of bad luck. With Casey and Jarvis combining superbly through a sequence of corners down the left wing to earn a corner, Cooper’s first corner of the game caused chaos in the Hartlepool box, with a scramble earning the home side a second corner. The ball in was the same, and again not dealt with; Davison’s leap at the near post only connected with thin air, and as the ball bounced on the six-yard line, Jack Cook was able to hook it home almost unchallenged to double the Woking lead.

A jubilant Jack Cook celebrates his goal; pic: David Holmes

With a hard-earned lead, Woking were able to exert a certain amount of control on the game for most of the rest of the half. The Cards clearly set out to float set pieces into central areas, regularly winning flick-ons and putting the visitors under pressure, but unable to find a telling opportunity to shoot. Spasov and Davison were both regular outlets, working extremely hard to hold the ball up and bring others into play.

It should also be said that Hartlepool had their best spell of the entire game in the last fifteen minutes of the half. Norwich loanee Mason Bloomfield was a powerful aerial presence, helping Pools’ make ground down the Woking left consistently, and as added time was announced he was targeted by a vicious cross from Lewis Cass, playing at right full back but regularly bombing beyond his winger to create an overlap. Saul Shotton was the unfortunate man attempting to mark him, with the cross cannoning off of the defender’s shinpads towards the Woking goal – only for Craig Ross to pull out a superb reflex save low to his right to keep the clean sheet.

Half time was blown moments later. From the clean sheet to the quality of goals, the Cards couldn’t have asked for a much better first forty-five in front of the returning fans.

Half-time: Woking 2 Hartlepool United 0

With no changes at half time for either side, it was no surprise that the game continued to be something of a sparring match in the opening stages of the half. High lines from both sides made the pitch congested and difficult to manoeuvre within, with Woking looking to send runners into the channels via long balls to make ground. Manager Dave Challinor’s audible demands for tempo were not, it appears, effective; within ten minutes of the restart, Bloomfield and left winger Rhys Oates were replaced by wide man Claudio Ofosu and seventeen-year-old forward Joe Grey.

The Woking press had not dipped in intensity, and on the hour mark it would reward the hosts with a third. An under hit pass from Killip was pounced upon by Ben Dempsey as the keeper tried to play his way into midfield, and the Charlton loanee did superbly to skip past challenges from Shelton and then Odusina as he drove across the pitch. Breaking into the penalty area on the left-hand side, the young midfielder clipped a pass across goal to Spasov, who slotted home from close range for his third goal of the season.

Hartlepool would muster up some half-decent chances to try and claw themselves back into the game, with new signing Armstrong forcing a save from Ross after good work from Holohan, but it would take a red card to change the balance of the tie. Chasing down a long ball in the left channel, Max Kretzschmar’s tackle was late, but appeared innocuous; the referee considered it violent conduct, to the total bemusement of all in the ground. Alan Dowson was booked for his protests – presumably his first yellow card since 2006.

Within five minutes, Hartlepool had taken off centre-half Odusina for a forward in Ryan Donaldson, and you had the sense that Woking would be under the cosh for the final phases. But in spite of the one-man disadvantage, and the part time vs. full time fitness levels, the home side always felt in control. Dropping to a 4-4-1 system and continuing to use long balls into the channel to relieve pressure worked superbly, with Hartlepool unable to make any meaningful ground into the Woking box. The only attacks that would complete with any regularity were early crosses from midfielder Nicky Featherstone, trying to whip the ball in from the left-hand channel. None were a serious threat.

Indeed, Woking were able to make some substitutions to mark the return from injury of Tommy Block and young midfielder Jack Skinner – and with Kretzschmar suspended and Ferdinand returning from fitness, both may find themselves in the starting line-up over the coming weeks. Skinner was almost able to set up fellow academy graduate Jayden Wareham for a fourth, which would have put even more gloss on an impressive result.

Not that it was needed. The return of fans, the nature of the performance and the comfortable result added up to a perfect day for Cardinals faithful. The exceptional work and admirable diligence of the volunteers who made Kingfield safe for fans again were the bedrock of a fantastic day for Woking fans, and another tiny step towards normality.

Woking: 1. Craig Ross; 3. Josh Casey ©, 6. Saul Shotton, 2. Jack Cook, 16. Kyran Lofthouse; 11. Matt Jarvis (Tommy Block 79’), 18. Ben Dempsey, 4. Charlie Cooper, 10. Max Kretzschmar; 14. Slavi Spasov (Jack Skinner 84’), 25. Josh Davison (Jayden Wareham 90’)

Unused subs: 7. Dave Tarpey, 12. Nathan Collier

Goals: Jarvis 2’, Cook 17’, Spasov 60’

Bookings: Cook 61’

Red cards: Kretzschmar 74’

Hartlepool United 1. Ben Killip; 3. David Ferguson, 5. Timi Odusina (Ryan Donaldson 70’), 15. Ryan Johnson, 2. Lewis Cass; 11. Rhys Oates (Claudio Ofosu 55’), 8. Nicky Featherstone, 6. Mark Shelton, 14. Gavin Holohan; 9 Mason Bloomfield (Grey 55’), 29. Luke Armstrong

Unused subs: XX. Joe Bunney, 36. Tyler Magloire

Goals: N/A

Bookings: Ofosu 58’, Cass 84’

Referee: Scott Tallis

Attendance: 799

Man of the Match: Ben Dempsey. The loanee had his best performance in a Woking shirt by a country mile, with a battling display crowned by a magnificent assist for the third goal to put the game beyond doubt.
13Craig Ross
16Kyran Lofthouse
3Josh Casey
6Saul Shotton
2Jack Cook
18Ben Dempsey
4Charlie Cooper
10Max Kretzschmar
11Matt Jarvis ('81)
14Slavi Spasov ('86)
25Josh Davison ('90)
12Nathan Collier
21Tommy Block ('81)
15Jack Skinner ('86)
7Dave Tarpey
23Jayden Wareham ('90)
Hartlepool United LINEUP
1Ben Killip
2Lewis Cass
3David Ferguson
5Timi Odusina ('77)
15Ryan Johnson
6Mark Shelton
8Nicky Featherstone
14Gavan Holohan
11Rhys Oates ('56)
9Mason Bloomfield ('56)
29Luke Armstrong
38Tyler Magloire
39Joe Bunney
16Claudio Ofosu ('56)
7Ryan Donaldson ('77)
12Joe Grey ('56)

Woking 3-0 Hartlepool United | Dowse Interview

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