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Cards face stern test against League One Gills

Glen Harrington
7:59pm, Fri 6th Nov 2020
Gillingham vs Woking
Emirates FA Cup First Round
Saturday 7th October 2020

After a superb start, the Cards are experiencing their first blip of the season, in the shape of successive National League defeats at Boreham Wood and King’s Lynn Town. But those results will be quickly forgotten if they can pull off a surprise in the FA Cup this weekend.

Woking haven’t won since the fourth qualifying round of the same competition, when local rivals Aldershot Town were defeated 2-1, but manager Alan Dowson and his side will almost certainly have been left reflecting on what might have been in their last outing. Goals from Kane Ferdinand and Josh Davison, who both notched their second of the season, had the Cards in control in Norfolk, only for a dramatic late brace from former Card Jamar Loza to snatch all three points for the hosts. Despite a challenging run of form, Dowse’s side traditionally thrive in the role of underdogs, as they have already this season in wins over Solihull Moors and Dagenham & Redbridge. Supporters will also, naturally, look to the FA Cup run of two years ago, when League One side Swindon Town were knocked out on route to a third round meeting with then Premier League side Watford.

Gillingham have also had a mixed start to the season. They currently sit 13th in League One with 13 points from 11 games. After a promising start, which saw them win three and draw one of their first five league games and advance to round three of the EFL Cup, eventually going out to Championship club Stoke City, they lost five straight league matches without scoring, including three at home. That streak was halted on Tuesday evening when they won 1-0 at Crewe Alexandra thanks to second-half substitute John Akinde – a former Woking trialist. The club’s recent FA Cup record is strong, they’ve reached at least the second round for the last three seasons, including reaching round four in 2018/19 when they were knocked out by Swansea City. However, they did suffer four successive first round exits between 2013 and 2016. Their best performance in the competition came in the 1999/2000 season when they were quarter-finalists.

Woking – Team News

Malachi Napa is likely to be the only enforced absentee following the injury he picked up in the last round. Otherwise, Dowse should have a full squad to pick from, with all of the other loan players seemingly eligible to play in the competition after featuring against Aldershot. Winger Matt Jarvis, who has started the last three matches, could player against his former club where he made 122 appearances between 2003 and 2007.

Gillingham – The Boss

The Gills boss is a man many Woking fans will be familiar with. Steve Evans spent much of his early managerial career in non-league football, twice winning promotion from the National League, with Boston United in 2002 and Crawley in 2011. He also enjoyed great success with Rotherham United, taking them from League Two into the Championship, before joining Leeds United in 2015. He lasted less than a year at Elland Road and followed that with spells at Mansfield Town and Peterborough United. He joined Gillingham in June last year. The Glaswegian also played professionally for the likes of Albion Rovers and Ayr United in the 1980s, before an untimely knee injury ended his playing career at the age of just 24.

One to Watch

Winger Jordan Graham has notched five goals in 14 appearances so far this season. The 25-year-old, who was capped by both the Republic of Ireland and England at youth team level, started his senior career at Aston Villa before joining neighbours Wolverhampton Wanderers in 2015. He spent the last five years at Molineux, making a handful of appearances at Championship level, as well as enjoying loan spells with Oxford United, Fulham, and Ipswich Town. He joined the Gills in January before making the move permanent in the summer.

Last Time Out

Woking 3-0 Gillingham – Friendly (26th July 2013)

Gavin McCallum, Gavin Williams, and Anthony McNamee scored the goals at the Cards stunned their Football League opponents in this pre-season encounter. John Akinde, now of Gillingham, started the game for the Cards.

Next Up

The Cards are back at home for the first time in almost a month on Saturday when they host Yeovil Town. That’s followed by a trip to Dover Athletic the following Tuesday evening.

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