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Cards aim to upset the odds against Premier League Watford

Glen Harrington
7:19pm, Fri 4th Jan 2019
Woking vs Watford
The Emirates FA Cup Third Round
Sunday 6th January 2019

The Cards will play in the third-round proper of the FA Cup for only the fifth time in the club’s history on Sunday as they host Premier League Watford at a sold out Laithwaite Community Stadium.

Not since the 1996/97 season have Woking remained in the competition past the turn of the year, when Steve Thompson’s late goal claimed a famous 1-1 draw with then top division Coventry City, only for the Cards to narrowly lose out in the replay; And it was back in 1990 when the club advanced beyond the third round for the first and only time when Tim Buzaglo’s hat-trick condemned West Brom to a 4-2 defeat and earned Woking the most famous result in the club’s history – that, combined with the narrow 1-0 defeat which followed at Goodison Park in the fourth round earning the club plaudits up and down the country. Now, close to three decades later, manager Alan Dowson and his team will attempt to overcome the odds once again knowing, whatever the result, they have already inscribed their names in Woking folklore.

For Watford, who currently sit eighth in the Premier League table, the short trip represents an opportunity to offer game time to some of the players on the periphery of the first team following the traditionally busy Christmas period which has seen them, like the Cards, play four games in quick succession. The Hornets have taken five points from their festive fixtures, winning away at West Ham and losing at home to Chelsea, before draws with Newcastle and Bournemouth. Their recent FA Cup pedigree is also quite impressive – they were semi-finalists in 2016, when they lost out to Crystal Palace at Wembley, whilst they’ve only been beaten at this stage three times in the last 12 years.

We hope all those lucky enough to secure a ticket for Sunday’s game get behind their teams and make it a great occasion for all to remember! Remember, if you aren’t able to attend you can watch the game live on BT Sport 2.

Woking Team News

The Cards were boosted on Friday by the news that Oxford United duo Armani Little and Harvey Bradbury, a Watford player as recently as last summer, have re-signed on loan until the end of the season. Both players have played a significant part in helping the team reach the third-round and are now likely to be available on Sunday.

For Dowse and the rest of his management team, the only question will be how best to fit the pair back into the team, or whether instead they’ll have to settle for a place on the bench. After all, with the Cards currently on a seven-match winning run in the league – the team’s best run in almost eight years – and with just one defeat inside 90 minutes since mid-September, it would be understandable to want to stick with a winning team.

Dowse may have his hand forced somewhat by an injury to top scorer Max Kretzschmar, who missed the game against Eastbourne Borough last weekend and limped off early against Hampton and Richmond in mid-week after declaring himself fit to play. If he isn’t able to play, at least from the start, then it potentially opens the door for Bradbury, who will likely be competing with Jake Hyde, Greg Luer, Jamar Loza, Paul Hodges and Nicky Wheeler for a place in the front three.

Little, meanwhile, will need to displace one of Christian Jolley, Toby Edser or Harry Taylor if he is to resume the midfield role which he was deployed in so successfully for 13 games earlier this season. They are likely to be the two biggest question marks for the Cards heading into the game, barring any late injury issues, with the back four and goalkeeper remarkably settled in recent weeks.

Watford Team News

Head Coach Javi Gracia has already hinted that he will make widespread changes to the team held to a 3-3 draw by Bournemouth on Wednesday. Woking fans can look forward to seeing the likes of veteran Brazilian goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes, who won 11 caps for his country between 2003 and 2010, England internationals Nathaniel Chalobah and Tom Cleverley, Dutch international full-back Daryl Janmaat and exciting Venezuelan prospect Adalberto Peñaranda, whose opportunities have been limited so far due to work permit issues.

The star names in Watford’s impressive squad of internationals, full of experience across many of the biggest leagues in Europe, are striker and captain Troy Deeney, scorer of over 100 goals for the club, as well as towering French midfielder Abdoulaye Doucouré who has reportedly been attracting transfer attention from a number of the world’s biggest clubs. No doubt Woking fans will be hoping to see both players on the pitch at some stage this weekend. Meanwhile, Watford have confirmed that only Sebastian Prödl, Christian Kabasele and Andre Gray are unavailable through injury while Marvin Zeegelaar and Stefano Okaka will also not be considered due to ongoing transfer negotiations.

Next Up

Remember, the Cards are back in action on Wednesday evening at Kingfield for a massively important league fixture against Welling United, and it would be great to see as many fans as possible there to lend their support and hopefully cheer the team on to an important result.

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Registered office The Laithwaite Community Stadium, Kingfield, Woking, Surrey, GU22 9AA

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