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Cards chase play-off place

Brian Caffarey
7:28am, Fri 11th Mar 2011
Thurrock v Woking
3pm on Saturday 12 March 2011

The Cards hope to make it nine wins in the last ten league games when they travel to Ship Lane tomorrow. Now sitting only one point off the play-off places, but with other teams also challenging the top five, Garry Hill’s side will need to lift themselves once more as they continue their hectic schedule.


The Cards found it hard-going down at Weston-super-Mare on Tuesday night but managed to grind out an invaluable 1-0 win against a side with an impressive home record. Chelmsford City’s defeat at Hampton and Richmond Borough – the Cards’ opponents on Tuesday – narrowed the play-off gap to only one point but both Eastleigh and Dover Athletic, both with two games in hand on Woking, also threaten to break into the top five. It looks as though seven clubs will be battling it out for the four play-off places on the assumption that Braintree will probably claim the automatic promotion place. With lots of games to come between the clubs concerned, it makes for a potentially exciting end to the season.

There is no doubt that the Cards showed signs of tiredness in the Farnborough and Weston games. Garry Hill will be reluctant to change a line-up that has been extraordinarily successful but may need to consider whether he should turn to his two new unused signings, midfielder Andy Burgess and striker James Walker, to provide some fresh legs. He will still be without Joe McNerney, serving the second stage of his three-match ban. Reiss Noel is expected to continue to partner Adam Doyle in central defence.


The Fleet had a disastrous start to the season, failing to register a league win until their 15th attempt, a 2-1 home victory over Staines. By then Hakan Hayrettin had been replaced as manager by Greg Lincoln. But Lincoln stepped down in early January to be replaced by his assistant, Grant Gordon, as caretaker manager.

At the point when the Fleet visited Kingfield on 1 February (see below) their form had improved markedly, moving them up to 15th place, only three points fewer than the Cards, having notched two wins and a draw in their previous three away league games. But the Cards’ hard-fought victory began another poor run in which Thurrock have failed to gain a win. Starting with their most recent game, their results have been:

Thurrock 0 Basingstoke Town 3
Dorchester Town 3 Thurrock 1
Thurrock 1 Boreham Wood 3
Thurrock 1 Chelmsford City 1
Thurrock 2 Farnborough 4
Staines Town 1 Thurrock 1

The Fleet have now slipped to 19th in the table, with 27 points from 31 games. At home they’ve won four games, drawn five and lost seven, with 23 goals scored and 36 conceded.

Joe Woolley in goal has been in fine form. The Fleet have experienced centre defenders in Lee Flynn, Rob Swaine and Craig Pope. Joe Carlos and Matt Bodkin provide pace on the flanks. New signings include Lynval Duncan, a centre half from Bishop’s Stortford; Tom Murphy, a winger from Lewes, Marlon Patterson from Chelmsford City and Freddie Ladapo, a promising young striker on work experience terms from Colchester United.


Thurrock FC
South Way,
Ship Lane,
Essex RM19 1YN


By coach
Leaves 12.30pm. Members £11; non-Members £16. Phone the Club Shop (01483 772470) or email today to book.

By car
Head for the eastbound M25. When going through the Dartford Tunnel use the left-hand bore. On emerging from the tunnel leave the motorway at the first exit, Junction 31. This leads to a large roundabout controlled by traffic lights. Take the third exit, which is Ship Lane, and the ground is about 75 yards on the right.

By train
Chafford Hundred Station (for Lakeside Shopping centre) is the nearest station, about two miles from the ground. If you travel up to Waterloo and then take the Jubilee Line to West Ham, you can pick up trains from there at 29 and 59 minutes past each hour, taking 22 minutes. So, for example, the 13.29 arrives at 13.51. Bus route 372 runs from Lakeside to Ship Lane. Trains return at 29 and 59 minutes past each hour.

Purfleet Station on the C2C line (Fenchurch Street to Southend) is about 3 miles from the ground.


This season

Woking 1 Thurrock 0
1 February 2011

Garry Hill’s second game in charge marked the beginning – though it was far from obvious on the day – of the current fantastic run of league results. On a foggy, chilly evening Thurrock came to Kingfield with a good recent record and proved tough opponents. In the end the difference came down to a superb piece of finishing from Elvis Hammond on the half-hour mark. Picking up, to the right of the area, a pass or shot from Dave Gilroy, Woking’s ace striker lashed the ball back across keeper Woolley. Kieran Murtagh, making his debut, showed glimpses of the excellent form which was to follow.

Last season

Woking 0 Thurrock 1
6 February 2010

This game was dedicated to the memory of Phil Ledger but, unfortunately, the side did not produce a display to match. The misfiring Cards, who included new signing Jamie Slabber in their number, huffed and puffed in the first half but were then caught out just before the break by a stunning counter-attack which saw Fola Oronolishe head home past a helpless Ross Worner. The Cards started the second half brightly but became poorer and poorer as the game went on, finishing by throwing high balls in the direction of Tom Hutchinson.

Thurrock 2 Woking 2
16 March 2010

Graham Baker rang the changes for this game, dropping Jamie Hand and Sam Sloma and bringing in Craig Faulconbridge for his first start. And it was Craig who gave the Cards the lead in the 16th minute with a diving header from an Aswad Thomas cross. The Fleet equalised soon after the interval, with Clark latching onto a flicked through ball. But the Cards’ lead was quickly restored as Harry Arter crashed the ball home from close in. Unfortunately, they couldn’t hold onto all three points, with Anderson equalising with a header from a set piece. An improved performance but few would have expected that the Cards were about to embark on an amazing end-of-season charge up the table.

Come on, you Cards!

P.S. Don’t forget that the Cards are at home on Tuesday evening when Hampton and Richmond Borough are the visitors. If you’re not travelling to Thurrock on Saturday, why not pop down to Kingfield and see the reserves play Sutton United in the Quarter-Final of the Suburban Football League Cup?

Cards scrape another three points!

Alan Worth
8:13pm, Sat 12th Mar 2011
Thurrock 0 Woking 1
Blue Square Bet South
12 March 2011

Woking continued their remarkable push towards the play-offs with another valuable three points at Thurrock and again without conceding. In the last ten league games they have now won nine, drawn one and conceded only that last-gasp goal against Farnborough. The Cards have taken a more than impressive 28 points from a possible 30 in this stunning run that continues to transform their season.

The win wasn’t without its problems – a scrappy affair with Woking struggling to create clear-cut chances despite looking the better side for most of the game; an error-strewn game which, finally, turned on two moments of real drama. The first was the sending-off of Thurrock’s tall centre back Swaine for a bad foul on Jay Davies and the second was the scrambled goal coming in the 90th minute.

Garry Hill started with the same eleven that had taken the field at Weston. Andy Burgess, the former England C midfielder and ex-Rushden and Oxford United playmaker, was on the bench for the first time alongside James Walker, another recent signing.

On a firm and bumpy pitch the start was scrappy but early on Craig Dobson was almost in on goal after a long cross-field free-kick from Aswad Thomas. At the other end Bodkin’s free-kick, swung in dangerously from the left, managed to evade all the flailing boots, fizzed across the box and away to safety.

After a quarter of an hour Mark Ricketts’ delightful through ball almost found Dobson again but this time he and Hammond were adjudged offside. Immediately afterwards an Ademola cross from the left was over hit but again Craig Dobson almost managed to get to the ball as he leapt at the far post. Further opportunities were almost created as Thomas, again with a raking cross-field pass, almost put Craig Dobson in on goal but home keeper Woolley got to the ball first. Then Jay Davies found himself in front of goal but as he moved to capitalise on Murtagh’s pass he was also adjudged offside.

After 26 minutes a Reiss Noel miskick gave Thurrock the first corner of the game. Olima’s downward header was straight at Little. In fact Thurrock looked most threatening at set pieces with the towering figure of centre back Swaine coming forward at every opportunity. Meanwhile Woking tried hard to get the ball down and pass but some casual passing and poor control disrupted any free-flowing football.

Jay Davies volleyed over from outside the box before the Cards produced the best move of the half. Some delightful interpassing on the left saw Murtagh work some space for Hammond but the forward’s left foot shot was blocked by a defender and cleared.

Half-time: Thurrock 0 Woking 0

The second period began with some good vocal support from a healthy contingent of travelling Cards fans. But their support and, no doubt, some strong words from the Woking management team during the break, failed to ignite the Woking performance. In fact it was the home side that had the first opportunity with a Bodkins’ corner skimming dangerously off the top of Swaine’s head and away to safety.

On 54 minutes there was a half chance for the Cards as Ademola and Thomas combined on the left. Ademola’s inside pass found Murtagh, whose first time shot was powerful but just over the bar. Five minutes later a Jay Davies chip found Dobson clear on the right but Woolley was out to block his shot.

Ten minutes later and the game finally came to life. Again it was Dobson on the right who found Murtagh on the left edge of the box. He was clearly held as he endeavoured to turn the defender and Mr Betts awarded the free-kick. Quickly taken the ball was played to Davies on the edge of the area, who was unceremoniously upended by a lunging Swaine. The big central defender, despite the protests of his teammates, was shown a straight red card.

Garry Hill immediately introduced Andy Burgess into the holding midfield role at the expense of Ricky Anane. Captain Mark Ricketts moved to right back, with the Cards playing in a 4-4-2 formation.

Still Woking struggled to cut out any clear-cut chances against the ten men of Thurrock as they began to take complete control of the game. Dobson was brought down in the box and despite appeals no penalty was awarded. A great cross-field pass from Burgess found Ademola on the left. His ball inside set up Davies but the midfielder’s shot was weak.

With fifteen minutes remaining Ollie Palmer was brought on to replace Davies and the substitute almost immediately opened the scoring. He did well to get to Hammond’s flicked pass but saw his snap shot crash off the upright. But despite their man advantage and general dominance sloppy play at the back almost let in Thurrock. A poor Woking clearance was nearly returned with interest with a shot from substitute Duncan and the defence had to scramble to recover as a poor back pass almost let in Thurrock yet again.

As the home side continued to battle against the odds, Woking strained to find that elusive goal. Another superb ball into the box from Burgess looped off Hammond’s head with Palmer behind him and possibly in a much better position to score. But with the game moving into time added on the Cards finally broke the deadlock.

Fittingly, the move started with Man of the Match Adam Doyle (pictured) driving forward through the centre of the Thurrock midfield. The ball was moved out to substitute Koranteng on the left, who slipped the ball on to Thomas. For once, behind the Thurrock defence, the left back got to the bye line before sliding a dangerous ball across the six-yard box. As Hammond closed in for the kill, Olima only managed to poke the ball into his own net. The Cards fans behind that goal erupted with joy and no little relief. Another three points were finally in the bag.

As Garry Hill had made clear after the Weston game, “We have eleven to play and have to win eight or nine. If we do that we are capable of being in the play-offs.� Well, one down and ten to go! The Cards will need to play rather better, however, against neighbours Hampton and Richmond on Tuesday if they are to continue the run. Make sure you’re there to cheer on the Cards!

Woking: Andy Little, Ricky Anane (Andy Burgess 66), Aswad Thomas, Mark Ricketts, Reiss Noel, Adam Doyle, Craig Dobson (Nathan Korangten), Kieran Murtagh, Moses Ademola, Elvis Hammond, Jay Davies (Ollie Palmer 75).

Unused subs: James Walker, Matt Pegler

Thurrock: Woolley, Pope, Harris, Olima, Swaine, Clark, Bodkin (Duncan 66), Cracknell, Richards (Murphy 77), Ladapo (Knight 70), T J Sie

Unused subs: Carlos, Patterson

MOTM: Adam Doyle

Thurrock LINEUP
1Joe Woolley
2Craig Pope
3Reece Harris
4Paul Olima
5Rob Swaine
6Kenny Clark
7Matt Bodkin ('67)
8Dean Cracknell
9Jamie Richards ('77)
10Freddie Ladapo ('70)
11Tommy Tejan-Sie
12Tom Murphy ('77)
14David Knight ('70)
15Joe Carlos
16Lynval Duncan ('67)
17Marlon Patterson
1Andy Little
2Ricky Anane ('66)
3Aswad Thomas
4Mark Ricketts
5Reiss Noel
6Adam Doyle
7Craig Dobson ('80)
8Kieran Murtagh
9Moses Ademola
10Elvis Hammond
11Jay Davies ('75)
12Andy Burgess ('66)
14James Walker
15Nathan Koranteng ('80)
16Ollie Palmer ('75)
18Matt Pegler

Garry Hill Interview after Thurrock 0-1 Woking

Andy Burgess Interview

David Holmes
9:58pm, Sat 12th Mar 2011
Interview with new signing Andy Burgess following Woking's 1-0 win at Thurrock today.

Andy Burgess:

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