Scottish opener for Cards
8:56am, Thu 10th Jul 2014
Woking v Falkirk
3pm on Saturday 12 July 2014
The Cards begin their pre-season friendly programme on Saturday with an intriguing visit from Scottish Championship side Falkirk. Woking fans will be keen to get a first glimpse of new signings, James Clarke and Theo Lewis, as well as welcoming back a reassuring number of key players from last season.
In contrast to many previous seasons at Kingfield, there have been few comings and goings over the summer, which has led fans to hope that we might get off to a strong start for a change! Garry Hill and Steve Thompson have done a superb job in securing respective 12th and 9th place finishes following the Clubâ€™s return to the Conference Premier. Woking fans will be aware, though, that last season could have been even better had it not been for poor early results which saw the Club sitting in the relegation places in mid-November. The subsequent transformation in form was remarkable, with only champions Luton Town bettering the Cardsâ€™ record thereafter.
The arrival of Scott Rendell was a key factor and Cards fans are delighted that Scott, who netted 17 league goals for Woking last season, has put pen to paper this summer on a new contract. But that was far from the only good bit of news on the player front. Fans had feared that we might lose Josh Payne, outstanding in midfield, and that the ever-green Kevin Betsy might decide to hang up his boots, but both have signed on again for next season. The icing on the cake was provided by the news that Keiran Murtagh had decided to sign a permanent contract â€“ as opposed to probably joining us on loan for a fourth time later in the season! With the highly promising John Goddard, Mark Ricketts and newcomer Theo Lewis also in the squad, the Woking midfield looks potentially very strong again.
No doubt Garry will be looking to bring in another striker to complement Scott Rendell and Gez Sole. If Garry can find someone to match the quality shown by Bradley Bubb, Jayden Stockley and Jack Marriott in recent seasons, Woking fans wonâ€™t be complaining!
At the back there is welcome continuity too, with Aaron Howe, Adam Newton and Joe McNerney already signed on. James Clarke is lined up as Joeâ€™s potential partner in central defence, following Brett Johnsonâ€™s departure â€“ although, as we saw last season, Mark Ricketts can do an excellent job there too.
No doubt there will be one or two trialists on show on Saturday.
It will be very interesting for fans who arenâ€™t familiar with Scottish football to compare the standard of play of a Scottish Championship side with that of a Conference Premier side, although a friendly game is obviously very different from a competitive fixture. Falkirk were relegated from the Scottish Premier division in 2009-10 after five years in the top tier and came third in the Championship last season. They appointed a new manager, Peter Houston, last month and he has been busy bringing in new players. The Bairns, as they are known, beat Berwick Rangers 3-2 in a friendly last Friday, with two goals from Luke Leahy and one from Kevin Oâ€™Hara. It sounds as though the Cards will need to particularly watch out for speedy winger Alex Cooper, signed from Ross County, and last seasonâ€™s top scorer, Rory Loy, who grabbed 21 league goals. Last season Falkirk attracted an average home attendance of over 3,000, one of the highest attendances in their league. Their most famous former player is Alex Ferguson.
There will be a new-look programme to cover all the home pre-season friendly games. Read Garry Hillâ€™s thoughts as the pre-season gets underway.
The Cards have an attractive programme of pre-season games to follow:
Saturday 19 July (3pm) Woking v Fulham XI
Saturday 26 July (3pm) Woking v AFC Wimbledon
Wednesday 30 July (7.45pm) Woking v Crawley Town
Saturday 2 August (2pm) Basingstoke Town v Woking
Tuesday 5 August (7.45pm) Woking v West Ham XI
The real thing starts on Saturday 9 August when Woking travel to Alfreton Town. The first home game is on Tuesday 12 August when Dartford, reprieved from relegation and no doubt determined to avoid a repeat of last seasonâ€™s troubles, are the visitors. Why not grab a season ticket if you havenâ€™t already got one? It could be an exciting campaign!
Come on, you Cards!