Tough first test for Garry

Brian Caffarey
6:45am, Fri 28th Jan 2011
Braintree Town v Woking
3pm on Saturday 29 January 2011

Garry Hill could hardly have a more testing start to his Kingfield managerial career than taking the Cards to top-of-the-table Braintree Town. The postponement of last Saturday’s game at Weston-super-Mare means that Steve Thompson and Garry have had longer to get to know the players but they might possibly have preferred a less daunting opening fixture. In the meantime, too, other results have left the Cards even further removed from the play-off zone: now a massive 12 points gap separates them from fifth-placed Welling United, although Garry Hill’s side have a couple of games in hand.


Steve Thompson’s appointment this week as First Team Coach has been warmly welcomed by Woking fans, who are delighted to see one of Woking’s greatest-ever players return to Kingfield. If only he could still pull on his boots! For, with the departure of Lee Sawyer for Southend last week, it’s the lack of a creative midfield player that is the most obvious weakness in the current Woking line-up. It sounds from media interviews as though Garry and Steve recognise that this is a gap to be plugged but, at the time of writing, there is no news of anyone being drafted in before Saturday’s game.


The Iron are now six points clear of second-placed Chelmsford City, although their Essex rivals have a game in hand. Braintree have 48 points from 21 games: 20 more than the Cards from the same number of games. At home their record reads: won 10, drawn 0 and lost 2, with 27 goals scored and 10 conceded. The only defeats have come at the hands of Dover Athletic in September and Bromley in November.

This will be Braintree’s fifth successive home league game, with all the previous games being won: Ebbsfleet (4-2), Lewes (1-0), Hampton and Richmond (3-1) and Bishop’s Stortford (3-1).

In the FA Trophy the Iron knocked out Farnborough before losing 3-0 at AFC Wimbledon – so that’s something in which we have bragging rightst! In the FA Cup Braintree beat Welling United in the 2nd Qualifying Round before crashing out, very surprisingly, at Carshalton Athletic 4-1.

The Iron lost the services of last season’s top scorer, George Purcell, in the summer when he joined York City but new manager Rod Stringer, who was with Aveley last season, quickly brought in Jamie Guy to partner Sean Marks up front. Marks has amassed 20 goals already. Another useful signing was midfielder Jai Reason, formerly with Cambridge United and Crawley Town. At the back the Iron have the formidable Adam Bailey-Dennis, who completely dominated the Woking forwards in the encounter at Kingfield.


This season
Woking 0 Braintree Town 1
2 October 2010

The Cards had Andy Little to thank for keeping the scoreline respectable in a game the Iron dominated from start to finish. Little saved a penalty from Jamie Guy just before half-time and made several other fine saves towards the end of the match. Graham Baker brought in two new loan signings from Brentford for this game, Ryan Blake at left-back and Kyle Vassell on the wing, but neither made much impression and 45 minutes was all Vassell managed in a Woking shirt before he returned to Griffin Park.

Last season
Woking 0 Braintree Town 0
31 October 2009

The Cards couldn’t break Braintree’s desperate defensive line in late October as proceedings took a somewhat predictable course, given Woking’s poor home league form at the time.

Ross Worner’s spectacular penalty save kept the home side in with a chance, but when Mitchell Bryant failed to connect with an Aswad Thomas cross with seconds to go, it was clear that things weren’t going to go the Cards’ way.

Braintree Town 1 Woking 0
30 January 2010

The return encounter – almost a year ago to the day before this season’s trip – marked the beginning of the Cards’ dreadful run of results in February/early March which saw them go eight league games without a win, slipping from 2nd to 13th place in the table – before the amazing run-in which saw them sneak into 5th place on the final day of the season. But there was no real sign at Cressing Road of imminent problems. After an even 35 minutes or so with few chances the Cards proceeded to batter the solid Iron defence but opportunities were missed and keeper Craig Holloway had a ‘blinder’. At the other end, Woking were undone by a piece of magic from George Purcell in a rare Braintree attack as he turned and shot into the top corner in one movement. The Cards deserved all three points but came away empty-handed.


The Cressing Road Stadium,
Clockhouse Way,
Website: www.braintreetownfc.org.uk

By coach
Leaves 12 noon; £14 members, £19 non-members; book at the Club Shop today or phone 01483 772470 or email shop@wokingfc.co.uk

By car
Leave the M25 at J27 and head north on the M11. Leave at J8 and head east on the A120 for 16 miles until you reach the Galleys Corner roundabout, recognisable by the large McDonalds logo. Take the first exit towards Braintree College. This is Cressing Road and the ground is hidden behind new flats (called Iron View, as the higher ones get a free view of the ground) on the left-hand side, 0.7 miles from the roundabout. Look out for the Orange Tree pub on the right-hand side and then take the next turning on the left into Clockhouse Way. There is a small road sign pointing the way on the right-hand side of the road.

By train
Trains take about an hour from Stratford (which can be reached via the Jubilee Line from Waterloo) and leave at 55 minutes past each hour. The 12.55 gets in at 13.51, including a change at Witham. Trains back depart on the hour. Braintree Station is about a 15 minute walk from the ground, although there is a taxi rank outside the station.

Come on, you Cards!

P.S. Don’t forget that the Cards are at home to Thurrock next Tuesday evening (1 February). If you’re not travelling to Braintree, why not pop down to Kingfield and see the reserves play Leatherhead in the Suburban League? Kick-off is at 3pm and admission is £4 for adults and £2 for concessions.

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