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Notts County
Notts County

Cards hoping for home comforts against promotion-chasing County

Glen Harrington
10:26pm, Sun 4th Apr 2021
Woking vs Notts County
Vanarama National League
Monday 5th April 2021

Woking will be hoping to continue an encouraging run of home form and extend a four-match unbeaten run at the Laithwaite Community Stadium, with Notts County the visitors on Easter Monday.

The Cards have played each of their last four games in all competitions away from home, with every fixture ending in a 1-0 scoreline, albeit sadly with only one of those in the visitor’s favour. But Alan Dowson’s side are traditionally stronger on home soil this season and so it has proved in recent weeks, with only a last minute Altrincham penalty preventing a run of four straight victories, since defeat by Stockport County back at the end of January. Saturday’s defeat at Torquay United, another side with play-off aspirations, leaves Woking still in 18th place in the league with 31 points, six clear of the bottom three, but with both promoted National League South sides, Wealdstone and Weymouth, now just a point behind them.

Notts County have, by their own high standards, endured a mixed season, exemplified by the reason departure of manager Neil Ardley. They currently sit in fifth place, with 49 points from 28 games, 13 points adrift of leaders Sutton United with two games in hand, and five points clear of eight place FC Halifax Town. Like Woking, they were beaten by lower league opposition in the FA Trophy last month, losing their semi-final to AFC Hornchurch on penalties after a dramatic 3-3 draw. Their recent league form has seen them win three, draw three, and lose two since the start of March, and they ended a run of three games without a win in all competitions by beaten Wrexham on Good Friday.

Woking – Team News

Dowse will likely remain without a host of players absent against Torquay due to injury, including Jamar Loza, Malachi Napa, Matt Jarvis, and Sam Ashford, whilst Jack Cook and Nathan Collier have also been sidelined in recent weeks. Dowse will at least be hoping that goalkeeper Craig Ross is available again, with Mark Smith filling in once again against the Gulls. Youngsters Sam Evans and Leo Hamblin will be hoping to make their first senior appearances for the club after being unused substitutes in Devon.

Notts County – The Boss

Leicester-born Ian Burchnall took charge at the County Ground last month after two years in charge at Swedish club Östersunds FK, where he succeeded Brighton & Hove Albion manager Graham Potter as head coach. The 38-year-old has also managed in Norway, where he was in charge at Viking FK. Before moving to Scandinavia, he was on the academy coaching staff at both Bradford City and Leeds United.

One to Watch

Notts County’s squad is littered with quality, as well as plenty of Football League experience. Star striker Kyle Wootton, matchwinner in the two club’s last meeting earlier in the season, will not be traveling, however. The 24-year-old is suspended after being sent off in the closing stages of the game against Wrexham. County will still carry plenty of attacking threat, including from Dutch winger Enzio Boldewijn. The 28-year-old former Crawley Town player has five goals this season.

Last Time Out

Notts County 1-0 Woking – National League (5th December 2020)

As has so often been the case this season, the Cards were edged out by a late goal, with Kyle Wootton’s strike 10 minutes from time the difference between the two sides at the County ground. Woking have had 12 games end in a 1-0 scoreline this season, winning four and losing eight, and no doubt the first goal will be crucial once again on Monday.

Next Up

Woking travel to Eastleigh on Saturday before three consecutive home games against Bromley, Wrexham, and Torquay United.

in association with LV BET

Defensive howlers cost the Cards

Brian Caffarey
6:30pm, Mon 5th Apr 2021
Woking 2 Notts County 4
Vanarama National League
5 April 2021

Woking’s miserable run of results continued this afternoon as second-half defensive howlers undid the laudable recovery they had made in coming back from a one-goal deficit to take a 2-1 lead at the break. Overall, it was a better performance than in most recent games but calamitous defending presented the Magpies with three points which they might otherwise have had difficulty in pocketing.

There were four changes from the starting line-up against Torquay, with Jack Cook, Jonte Smith, Jamar Loza and Sam Ashford all returning in place of Ben Gerring, Kyran Lofthouse, Charlie Cooper and Sam Dalby. Mark Smith continued in goal.

The Cards started quite brightly, with Ashford looking especially lively up front. But, having conceded two early bookings, it was the Magpies who created the first real chance in the 11th minute, with Smith and Diarra just managing to thwart Sam in spite of the first sign of defensive confusion. Ashford’s pressure nearly paid off as he hustled a defender, who just managed to escape being pickpocketed.

The visitors began to settle, winning three corners in quick succession and it was from the last of these that they took the lead in the 20th minute. As Boldewijn dinked the ball back in Block slipped, leaving Mark Ellis to slam the ball past Smith from close range.

For a few minutes it looked as though County might quickly build on that lead but the Cards got lucky. A wayward defensive header allowed Block to hurl in a long throw, resulting in Moussa Diarra being tugged to the ground as he tried to attack the second ball. Max Kretzschmar made no mistake from the spot, firing low and hard into the corner.

The equaliser put an extra spring in Woking’s step and, conversely, seemed to deflate the Magpies. Only five minutes later the Cards found themselves in the lead. Dempsey’s free-kick was poor but the first defender’s attempted headed clearance sailed onto Cook at the far post, who nodded down cleverly, with Ashford anticipating superbly to slide the ball past the keeper.

The rest of the first half was fairly uneventful, with County presenting no real threat to Woking’s lead apart from a tame header from Reeves, who nodded the ball straight into Smith’s arms. At the other end Loza shot well wide after picking up an Ashford header.

Half-time: Woking 2 Notts County 1

Woking remained largely on the front foot in the opening phases of the second half, with Kretzschmar hooking wide and Loza looking as though he was denied a very good shout for a penalty after dribbling past several defenders in the box. The Cards threatened again, too, from another Block long-throw.

For County, Reeves once again failed to make the most of a free header, this time at the back post, and substitute Lewis Knight dragged his shot wide after being played inside Block.

But, in the 59th minute, Cook failed to cope with an awkward bouncing ball, allowing Jimmy Knowles to run on and finish clinically past Smith to make it 2-2.

Worse was to follow in the 65th minute. Smith came for a long ball but only succeeded in half-clearing it, allowing Knowles to fire past two Woking defenders as they sought vainly to protect the empty goal.

To Woking’s credit, they did not allow their heads to drop and, with Sam Dalby now on in place of Jonte Smith, proceeded to try to make a fight of it. But a missed Cook tackle and a poor Block pass nearly opened the way for County to immediately extend their lead, while the Cards failed to make the most of a free-kick in a promising position and over-hit several crosses. However, a great chance to equalise came in the 77th minute when Diarra latched onto a loose ball but his diving header didn’t have enough power to trouble the County keeper.

The killer blow came straightaway as a long ball over the top saw the Woking defenders appealing in vain for offside as Knowles ran through to complete his hat-trick and make the score a flattering 2-4 for County.

The Cards nearly pulled a goal back in the 85th minute when Ferdinand’s diving header was brilliantly saved by the Magpies keeper, with Dalby’s follow-up blocked by a defender.

The closing minutes were notable only for several bookings before the referee called time on a topsy-turvy game, in which two sides engaged in an uncharacteristic comparative goal fest. Woking will know that, on this occasion, it was sloppy defending, rather than their inability to score sufficient goals, that let them down.

Woking: Mark Smith, Tommy Block, Jack Cook, Moussa Diarra, Josh Casey, Kane Ferdinand, Ben Dempsey, Max Kretzschmar, Jonte Smith (Sam Dalby 64), Sam Ashford, Jamar Loza (Paul Hodges 84)

Unused subs: Charlie Cooper, Jack Skinner, Kyran Lofthouse

Goals: Max Kretzschmar (pen) 28, Sam Ashford 33

Booked: Tommy Block, Moussa Diarra

Notts County: Slocombe, Barnett, Chicksen, Reeves, Rawlinson, Ellis, Boldewijn (Kelly-Evans 87), O’Brien, Griffiths (Rodrigues 46), Knowles, Sam (Knight 55)

Unused subs: Miller, Golden

Scorers: Ellis 20, Knowles 60, 66 and 79

Booked: Sam, Rawlinson, Knight

My MOTM: Faded in the second half, but Sam Ashford looks the kind of striker we’ve been lacking most of the season.

Referee: Andrew Kitchen

31Mark Smith
21Tommy Block
3Josh Casey
2Jack Cook
6Moussa Diarra
18Ben Dempsey
8Kane Ferdinand
10Max Kretzschmar
25Sam Ashford
26Jamar Loza ('84)
9Jonté Smith ('64)
16Kyran Lofthouse
4Charlie Cooper
15Jack Skinner
32Paul Hodges ('84)
30Sam Dalby ('64)
Notts County LINEUP
1Sam Slocombe
3Mark Ellis
13Connell Rawlinson
23Adam Chicksen
11Enzio Boldewijn ('87)
7Jordan Barnett
4Jake Reeves
6Jim OBrien
28Regan Griffiths ('46)
18Jimmy Knowles
19Elisha Sam ('55)
16Dion Kelly-Evans ('87)
32Tylor Golden
29Calvin Miller
20Ruben Rodrigues ('46)
27Lewis Knight ('55)

Woking 2-4 Notts County | Ian Dyer

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