Following their comprehensive (5-1) FA Trophy 3rd Round victory at Welwyn Garden City last weekend, Aldershot Town return to National League action at the EBB Stadium on Saturday (Boxing Day). Alan Dowson’s 7th placed Woking side will provide the opposition, fresh from their own progression in the FA Trophy, where they came from behind to beat Dover Athletic 2-1.
In association with LV BET, Rob Worrall previews the game:
Lewis Kinsella continues his rehabilitation from his MCL injury, whilst Craig Tanner and Ross McCormack remain side-lined for the foreseeable future. However, with Alex Finney & Jamie Sendles-White both returning from injuries last weekend and Mike Fondop & Alfy Whittingham returning from suspensions, Shots Manager Danny Searle should have a ‘welcome’ selection headache as he looks to put out a side that can avenge the FA Cup defeat to The Cards back in October.
Name: Woking FC
Nickname: The Cardinals
Cards Manager: Alan Dowson
Stadium: Kingfield, aka The Laithwaite Community Stadium
2019/20 National League Final Position: 10th (when season ended). Awarded 10th position on Points Per Game (1.44)
The Gaffer: 50-year-old Gateshead born Alan Dowson, is now in his third season in charge of The Cards. He was a defender in his playing days, who made 55 Football League appearances for the likes of Bradford City and Darlington, before moving into Non-League, with Slough, Gateshead and Walton & Hersham. He spent 11 years with The Swans, the last three of which he also managed them, before switching to another management role with Kingstonian. In his second full season with The K’s, they won the Isthmian Division One South. They made a couple of play-off appearances in the Isthmian Premier but after the second of those in 2014, Dowson resigned. He was soon back in management, with Kingstonian and in 2015-16, he led them to the Isthmian Premier League title, scoring 105 goals. In 2018, he was appointed Woking manager and they finished runners-up in the National League South, came from behind late on to beat Welling in the Play-Off final and secured promotion to the National League. Last season Dowson steered the Cards to a highly creditable 10th place finish in their first season back at National League level.
Key departures from Kingfield over the summer included Godfrey Poku and Moussa Diarra to Havant & Waterlooville, Shaun Donnellan (Maidenhead United) and top scorer Jake Hyde, who signed for FC Halifax Town.
Dowson oversaw a fair amount of player movement in the close season, as just 10 Cardinals from last season remain. They include, Keeper Craig Ross, Defenders Jack Cook, Josh Casey & Ben Gerring (currently out on loan) plus long serving midfielder Kane Ferdinand and former Premiership midfielder Matt Jarvis. He also kept forwards Max Kretzschmar and Dave Tarpey.
Including loanees, the Cards have 17 new first-teamers this season. However, that total does include four youngsters that have stepped up from their Academy side. Their most eye-catching signings have been the return of ex-Shot John Goddard, for a second spell at Kingfield, Midfielder Charlie Cooper (FC Halifax Town) and striker Connor Hall. In the last week, Dowson has also brought striker Jamar Loza back to Woking (from Kings Lynn) for an undisclosed fee.
Much like last season, Woking have started the season in good form and they currently sit 7th in the National League table with 20 points from 13 matches.
Boxing Day’s referee is Elliott Swallow who has refereed 5 National League matches this season, showing 19 Yellow Cards and 1 Red Cards.
The match will be streamed and available on ‘Shots TV Live’ with Presenter Mark Butler, Match Commentator Rob Worrall and they will be joined by Special Guests in the studio at The EBB Stadium. You can purchase your streaming pass HERE. BBC Radio Surrey Sport will also be covering the match with live online commentary from Rob Worrall.