Under way at last!
10:41am, Thu 11th Aug 2011
Sutton United v Woking
3pm on Saturday 13 August 2011
The Cards get their season under way on Saturday with a difficult-looking, but eagerly-awaited, trip to newly-promoted Sutton United. Expectations are high among Woking fans, impressed by the promising side Garry Hill has assembled, so the pressure will be even greater than usual to make a good start to the campaign â€“ in contrast to last season, which started with two deflating losses to promotion rivals. Of course, early results may not offer a sound guide to the season as a whole but, as Garry and Steve Thompson remarked on Tuesday evening, they can help to build momentum, instil confidence and ease pressure. Sutton United advise fans to arrive early to avoid last-minute queues at the turnstiles.
There is a feeling among Woking fans that, after two successive play-off defeats, this season represents a great opportunity to secure promotion back to the Conference Premier. Perhaps surprisingly, given the withdrawal of funding by Chris Ingram, Garry Hill has managed to assemble a squad that, on paper at least, looks decidedly stronger than those of the last two seasons, with stiff competition for places in most areas. As Garry has made clear, this has been achieved partly through the willingness of some players to accept substantial wage cuts, but also through the success of The Cards Trustâ€™s Boost the Budget initiative, which will be contributing at least Â£2,000 a month to his playing budget. The ground-sharing deal with Hayes and Yeading has also boosted the Clubâ€™s funds at a vital time.
With a strong nucleus of players from last season, and only one relatively late signing, that of Derek Duncan at left-back, Cards fans are already pretty familiar with the look of Garry Hillâ€™s side, although there still remain doubts in a few positions about his starting XI on Saturday. Those begin at number one, where Garry has the difficult choice between the highly-experienced, dependable Andy Little and new signing (but former Woking Academy graduate) Aaron Howe, who had a good record at Havant and Waterlooville and has impressed in pre-season friendlies. The back four looks more straightforward, with Adam Newton, Joe McNerney, Adam Doyle and Derek Duncan expected to start, although Alan Inns will keep the centre backs on their toes. It becomes more difficult after that, although itâ€™s hard to believe that Garry wonâ€™t start with Jack King and Mark Ricketts in midfield and Elvis Hammond up front. Other places will be contested by Wayne Gray, Moses Ademola, Dale Binns, Gez Sole, Jay Davies and Nathan Koranteng. Ola Sogbanmu wonâ€™t be in the reckoning, however, with the injury sustained at Heybridge likely to rule him out for at least two to three weeks. Promising Academy player Josh Griffiths will no doubt be hoping that he can grab a place on the bench.
Suttonâ€™s squad looks strong too, with a lot of well-known, experienced players. There are plenty of Woking connections in the shape of Karl Murray, Karim El Salahi and Craig Watkins (signed from the Metropolitan Police in the summer, where he was top scorer last season). The experienced recruits this summer include Jay Conroy (ex-Farnborough), Anthony Riviere and Tony Taggart (both ex-Eastleigh), Neil Jenkins (ex-Eastbourne Borough) and Craig Dundas (returning to Sutton after a season at Hampton). Other squad members include Leroy Griffiths (ex-Hampton and QPR) and new signing Romone McRae, a midfielder from Peterborough.
Manager Paul Doswell says that he is very satisfied with the way the pre-season games have gone. At home the Uâ€™s drew with AFC Wimbledon, beat Carshalton Athletic, lost to Barnet and drew with a West Ham XI. In their final pre-season friendly Sutton lost away at Carshalton but it sounds as though not much can be read into that â€“ as with the Cardsâ€™ draw at Heybridge Swifts.
The Borough Sports Ground
Gander Green Lane
The Cards Trust coach leaves Kingfield at 1pm. Prices are Â£11 for members and Â£16 for non-members. If youâ€™re coming to Kingfield by car, please park in the rear car park since the front car park will be being used by Hayes and Yeading. To book your place on the coach please ring or email the Club Shop on 01483 772470 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The AA recommended route is as follows. Head for M25. Leave at J9, taking A243 (Dorking). After about two miles take the A24 (C. London, Sutton, Epsom). About four miles later join the A232 (Sutton). Follow for about a mile and then, at St Dunstanâ€™s Junction, turn left onto A217 (C. London, Wimbledon). After 350 yards turn right onto Alberta Avenue. Continue forward onto Frederick Road and, about 250 yards further on, turn left into Gander Green Lane. The AA estimates the journey time to be about 45 minutes.
West Sutton station is next to the ground. It is served by trains via Wimbledon or Sutton. Come out of West Sutton station and turn right into Gander Green Lane and the ground is about 100 yards further along. The 12.33 from Woking would get you to West Sutton at 13.51, whilst the 13.03 would get you there at 14.21, both via a longish wait at Wimbledon.
There are about 200 parking spaces in the car park behind the grandstand and lots of roads around Gander Green Lane in which to park.
Senior Citizens Â£6
Stand Transfer Â£1
Come on, you Cards!
N.B. Donâ€™t forget that the Cards are at home to Hampton and Richmond Borough at 7.45pm on Tuesday 16 August 2011.