7:30pm - FridayFri 15th JulyJul 2011
The Laithwaite Community Stadium | Att: 1095

0 - 3

Arsenal XI
Arsenal XI

Cards face young Gunners

Brian Caffarey
6:29am, Thu 14th Jul 2011
Woking v Arsenal XI
Pre-season friendly
7.30pm on Friday 15 July 2011

The Cards’ first pre-season friendly sees the visit of what will no doubt be a hugely-talented young Arsenal side. Cards fans will be equally eager to get their first glimpse in Woking colours of Garry Hill’s exciting summer signings and to cast their eye over some triallists. So, come on down to Kingfield on Friday evening for what should be an interesting and entertaining occasion. Don’t forget that it’s a 7.30pm kick-off!


The Cards are the bookies’ favourites for the BSBS title and it’s not difficult to see why, with the pleasing mix Garry Hill has fashioned of ‘old hands’ from last season’s play-off side and some very promising new signings. The ‘spine’ of last season’s team has been retained in the shape of Andy Little in goal, centre backs Joe McNerney, Adam Doyle and Alan Inns, midfielder Mark Ricketts and striker Elvis Hammond. Garry has brought in Aaron Howe, from Havant and Waterlooville but originally with the Woking Academy, to provide stiff competition for the goalkeeping position. The midfield has been greatly strengthened with the addition of Adam Newton (formerly with Luton), Jack King and Dale Binns from Farnborough, Jay Davies heading back to Kingfield after his brief sojourn at Farnborough and the re-signing of Nathan Koranteng. Up front, the experienced Wayne Gray, captured from Chelmsford City, looks an excellent partner for Elvis. And, of course, there is the return of the prodigal son, Gez Sole, after spells at Newport County, Dorchester Town and Havant and Waterlooville. Add to that promising home-grown talent in the shape of Matt Pegler, Josh Griffiths, Ola Sogbanmu and Ollie Palmer and it all looks very positive for the season ahead.

The obvious gaps still to be filled are at full back following the departures of Aswad Thomas and Ricky Anane and we can no doubt expect to see a few triallists vying to replace them.


The Gunners are expected to field a young side on Friday evening but you can be sure that there will be some names to remember amongst the talent on show. Two players who are expected to be in their squad have already made their mark in the Championship on loan. Henri Lansbury, capped nine times for the England U21 side, made over 20 appearances for Norwich City last season, having previously starred for Watford. Jay Emmanuel-Thomas spent part of last season with Cardiff City, having had spells formerly at Blackpool and Doncaster Rovers. Both are very highly rated by Arsene Wenger. The squad includes other players drawn from South America, Spain, Holland and Switzerland.


Admission prices to all the pre-season home friendly games are:

Adults £8
Concessions £4
U16s £2.

Don’t forget that the Cards have another home friendly game on Tuesday night, 19 July, when a Reading XI are the visitors. Kick-off for that game is at 7.45pm.

Come on, you Cards!

Cards lose out to the young guns

Glen Harrington
10:57pm, Sat 16th Jul 2011
Woking 0 Arsenal XI 3
Pre-Season Friendly
15th July 2011

Despite the unflattering result the Cards will have been left satisfied with their first taste of the 2011/12 season, taking on and for spells matching the likes of Jay Emmanuel-Thomas and Sanchez Watt, who made up a talented young Arsenal side.

The four-figure turnout at Kingfield was treated to a Woking starting eleven unlikely to be far short of that starting against Sutton United in a month’s time – Adam Doyle and new-boy Wayne Gray the only obvious omissions.

The line-up therefore consisted of returning regulars Andy Little in goal, Joe McNerney (pictured) and Alan Inns in defence, skipper Mark Ricketts marshalling the midfield, and Elvis Hammond leading the line. New signings on show included Adam Newton at right back, Nathan Koranteng (following his spell with the Cards last term) trying out at left back, and ex-Farnborough trio Jack King, Dale Binns and Jay Davies playing alongside the back-again Giuseppe Sole in midfield, making up a 4-5-1 formation.

It was the home side who started the better, putting together some slick passing moves and enjoying the positive effect of overlapping full-backs Newton and Koranteng. Indeed, it was the advanced Koranteng who allowed the space for Binns to navigate his first winding run into Arsenal territory down the left, almost fooling himself with his quick feet.

Four minutes in and on the opposing flank it was King who worked his way into space, sending over a cross that only narrowly missed the run of Giuseppe Sole, Newton’s equally fine secondary cross, following a poor clearance, unlucky not to find a Woking shirt.

Unsurprisingly, it was Hammond who made the Cards' best chance, doing the majority of the work himself as he weaved his way through two defenders and attempted an audacious chip which required a fine save from Gunners' stopper James Shea, tipping the ball over the bar.

With the Cards on the front foot it made the opening goal even more disappointing, Emmanuel-Thomas's corner bouncing off the stranded Mark Ricketts and trickling in from six yards – this after a fine Joe McNerney intervention had prevented Benik Afobe putting away Arsenal’s first real chance.

The Gunners had now woken up and taken full control – the likes of Emmanuel-Thomas, Watt and Kyle Bartley, who had spent their previous campaigns at Cardiff City, Leeds United and Sheffield United respectively, showing their obvious touch of top-level class – the Cards having Little’s sprawling save at the feet of the equally intimidating Chukus Aneke to thank for not being further behind.

The second goal was, however, inevitable and was delivered in supreme style as Afobe jinked his way through the Woking back line and played in Aneke for a simple finish: the score dampening what had been, at least for twenty minutes, a highly fluent and encouraging performance from the boys in yellow.

Half-time: Woking 0 Arsenal XI 2

Both teams looked far more disjointed after the break, coaching staff on either side using the opportunity to run the rule over triallists, fringe players and, in Woking’s case, the younger members of Garry Hill’s new-look squad.

Steve Thompson changed nine of the starting eleven over the course of the second half, with only Little and McNerney completing the 90 minutes. This meant a line-up by the end of the game of Little in goal, a back four of McNerney and triallists Wolleaston, Lawrence and Noone, a midfield five of youngsters Frith, Griffiths, Palmer and further triallists Powell and Kozucu, with Sogbanmu the lone striker.

Unfortunately, the little attacking play on show in the second half came from Arsenal, Little twice doing well to deny the Gunners one-on-one before Emmanuel-Thomas, latching on to a mistake from Noone, finally made the weight of chances pay.

Giuseppe Sole came closest to a second-half strike for the Cards, his free-kick forcing no more than a neat save before he joined those heading for an early shower.

So, perhaps on balance the Cards were only slightly hard done by, their display having proved most encouraging before Ricketts's unlucky opener. However, major positives did come from the performances of many of the new signings: Adam Newton looking solid at the back and aggressive in attack, Nathan Koranteng – a surprise for many in defence considering his usual attacking instincts – playing equally well despite the odd mistake, Jack King and Dale Binns both looking fine additions, especially when exchanging with each other, while the offerings of Davies and Sole will be more than familiar to Woking fans – Jay his usual energetic self, Gez looking a persistent danger out on the right.

The balance of the side was corrupted in the second-half as new, untried players were given their chance to impress. Those that did certainly included the sprightly Josh Griffiths, sporting both a dazzling blonde hairstyle and some fancy footwork as he made the Arsenal back-line sweat over their clean-sheet. The young midfielder also linked up well with Sogbanmu, who was unlucky, on more than one occasion, not to see the ball fall more kindly for him at the last moment.

With more winnable friendlies against Reading, Charlton and Kingstonian to come in July, along with QPR and Heybridge Swifts in early August, we will soon have a better idea of where we stand. Taking into account the impressive standard of the Gunners on a chilly Friday night, a satisfactory start!

Woking: Andy Little, Adam Newton (George Frith 80), Nathan Koranteng (Michael Noone* 63), Mark Ricketts (Ollie Palmer 68), Joe McNerney, Alan Inns (Demetrious Lawrence* 73), Giuseppe Sole (Ola Sogbanmu 58), Jack King (Matt Powell* 80), Dale Binns (Alper Kozucu* 46), Elvis Hammond (Josh Griffiths 58), Jay Davies (Rob Wolleaston* 46).

Unused Subs: Aaron Howe, Anson Cousins.


Arsenal XI: Shea, Hajrovic, Meade, Henderson, Bartley, Boateng, Emmanuel-Thomas, Ozyakup, Afobe, Aneke, Watt.

Subs: Brislen-Hall, Yennaris, Freeman, Galindo, Murphy.

MOTM: Joe McNerney – The only Cards outfield player to complete the full 90 minutes, looked as assured as ever and was unfazed by the array of young Arsenal talent on show.

Attendance: 1095

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