7:27pm, Thu 29th Jul 2021
Woking vs Chelsea U23s
Saturday 31st July 2021
Woking take another step towards the start of a new National League season on Saturday when they host Chelsea’s Under-23s at the Laithwaite Community Stadium.
Alan Dowson’s team made in two wins out of three for pre-season on Tuesday evening when they defeated League One side AFC Wimbledon by one goal to nil, with new signing Tahvon Campbell coming off the substitutes bench to score the solitary strike midway through the second-half. Dowse continued to rotate and experiment with his new look team, starting with a 5-3-2 formation with Tom Champion dropping into defence alongside Joe McNerney and Moussa Diarra, before reverting to the more tried and trusted 4-2-3-1 in the second-half, with Campbell and one of two trialists on the night brought on to play in the more advanced wide positions. And ultimately it was Campbell who made the difference, scoring with a well-placed header from Inih Effiong’s cross.
After using 22 players in each of the first two pre-season games – the loss to West Bromwich Albion and the victory over Sheerwater – Tuesday represented a significant step forward in the Cards’ preparations, with many players featuring for over an hour and several players completing the full 90 minutes for the first time. Only two unsigned players featured along with two of the quartet of academy graduates – Leo Hamblin and Selim Saied – who were both late substitutes. Academy stopper Callum Backhurst was also on the bench. Dowse and his team will certainly be encouraged by what they saw against a side both higher in the pyramid and further along in their preparations for the new campaign, whilst the result furthers anticipation amongst the returning supporters.
Chelsea have a sizeable squad and will undoubtedly send a strong side on Saturday. Their Under-23 squad most notably includes former Woking striker Jayden Wareham, an academy graduate who scored a memorable brace in the comeback draw with Bromley last season, alongside his exploits in the club’s FA Youth Cup run. Other players who could feature include defender Sam McClelland, who made his international debut for Northern Ireland last month, and England youth-team midfielder George McEachran, younger brother of former Chelsea and Brentford player, Josh. One player who won’t be featuring is former Woking Player of the Year, goalkeeper Nathan Baxter, who is now on loan at newly promoted Championship side Hull City.#
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