PREVIEW: Luton Town v Woking

It certainly has been a topsy turvy old season for mid-table Woking so far, writes Mike Simmonds.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 26th December 2012, 7:04 am

Stunning wins have been followed up by hefty thrashings as the Cards are quite possibly the most inconsistent team going in the Conference at the moment.

Life back in the Blue Square Bet Premier after three years following winning the Blue Square Bet South title started with defeat at Wrexham and then as if to demonstrate how they meant to go on, Woking promptly won two in a row, lost the next four and followed that up with another three successive victories.

Goals have never been far away for the Cards either as after battering Farnborough 7-0 in the FA Trophy recently, the very next game saw them hammered by the same scoreline at struggling Hyde, while they have also stuck six past Nuneaton aswell

It’s keeping them out that has proved the problem though with Gary Hill’s side possessing the worse defensive record in the division, shipping 47 in total, including five at Grimsby and four against Braintree.

One thing that is for sure though, games with Woking are always going to have results, as they club have managed just two draws all season, while at their Kingfield home they share with Hayes & Yeading, they have six wins, four defeats and the one draw.

In total, Woking have managed to win nine Conferences game so far, including a marvellous 3-2 victory at Newport County and their recent league form is impressive too, winning 2-0 at Lincoln and 1-0 over Stockport, keeping back to back clean sheets.

They did go out of the FA Trophy at the hands of Welling in a surprise reverse and like Luton, saw rain postpone their game with Forest Green Rovers on Saturday.

Prior to the loan window closing, Hill brought in Lincoln City defender John Nutter on loan, while young Bournemouth striker Jayden Stockley also joined until January.

Back in the summer, the Cards brought in a number of players with Football League experience to bolster their side with the likes of Kevin Betsy, Lee Sawyer, Loick Pires and Brett Johnson all joining.

Signing Byron Bubb on loan from Aldershot has proved something of a masterstroke too as the 25-year-old has netted 10 league goals already including four in the 6-1 demolition of Nuneaton back in September.

Team news: The Cards have limited attacking options as both Brett Williams and Bradley Bubb begin three and one-match bans respectively, following their FA Trophy red cards.

Loanee Jayden Stockley was also out injured for the 1-0 defeat but could be fit to return, while John Nutter is expected to be fit, as is Lee Sawyer.

Mike Cestor has a hamstring problem, but Adam Doyle should return.

Town can’t pick new signing Scott Neilson until January, but have a virtually clean bill of health as just Garry Richards and Danny Spiller are out.

Top BSBP scorer: Cards – Bradley Bubb (10). Hatters - Stuart Fleetwood (10).

Man in the middle: Kevin Johnson - Will be the third Luton game he has taken this season after reffing the 2-0 win at Kidderminster plus the 2-1 victory at Forest Green Rovers, where he awarded Town a last-minute penalty.

Has showed 39 yellow cards and three reds in his 10 matches so far, with his last Conference game a 1-0 home win for Nunueaton over Dartford.

In charge: Gary Hill – began his non-league managerial career with Heybridge Swifts where he took the village team to the Isthmian Premier and the FA Cup first round for the first time.

He then moved on to St Albans City before in the summer of 1999 taking over as manager of Dagenham & Redbridge who he led to the Isthmian League title and promotion to the Conference in his first season in charge.

Resigned in the 2003-04 season, before moving to Hornchurch, but left shortly after the club went into administration in January 2005 and took over at Weymouth in March 2005.

Sacked in January 2007, he was appointed Rushden & Diamonds boss in the February where he stayed until resigning two years later.

Appointed manager of Woking on January 20, 2011 and led them back into the Conference last season.

View from the opposition: Gary Hill - “We are starting to realise that we have to do the ugly side of the game.

“We’ve had to work hard and sort a few things out this week but I’m well chuffed with how things have gone.”

One to watch: Kevin Betsy - vastly experienced attacking midfielder who started his carer with Woking, before an prolific spell saw him earn an £80,000 move to Fulham.

Had loan spells at Bournemouth and Hull in that time before a £200,000 move to Barnsley. Enjoyed spells with Hartlepool, Oldham and Wycombe before Bristol City snapped him up for £150,000. Turned out for Yeovil, Walsall, Southend and returned to Wycombe before coming back to where it all started in the summer with a free transfer switch to Woking.

Has made over 450 league appearances, scoring 70 plus goals and despite now being 34, still knows where the goal is as his eight league strikes this season prove.

Friendly faces: Woking defender/midfielder Adam Newton made 66 appearances for Town, scoring four goals.

He played in the 2010-11 play-off final defeat to AFC Wimbledon, netting from the penalty spot in the shoot out before he was released in the summer.

Since then he has moved to Woking and juggles his football with a job as a courier.

Speaking about his time at Luton, Newton said: “It ended on a sort of high because of playing a part in the play-off final, though we lost to AFC Wimbledon.

“I enjoyed my time there but it wasn’t to be. Without being disrespectful to other clubs in the Conference, Luton are the biggest in it with their league history and playing in front of massive crowds.

“I haven’t got a bad word to say about them. Like normal fans, if you’re playing well they’re first to congratulate you but if you’re playing badly or not putting the effort in then you must expect some criticism. The majority are good and you can see how many turn out each week.”

“I had to accept the manager’s decision. He had his preferred right back and the guy at left back – Ed Asafu-Adjaye who’s now at Forest Green – could play on the right as well, so I was pretty much surplus to requirements.”

On becoming a courier and what the future holds, Newton, who was Cards boss Hill’s player of the year last term, added: “To get the phone call that you’re being released is a bit upsetting but it’s a wake-up call as well.

“I spoke to my wife and we decided to go down this route. I wanted to do something which gives me more financial security, being my own boss.

“Coming out of full-time football I had to make a decision about playing part-time and I couldn’t have come to a better club.

“I feel I’ve come to the best part-time club, the way it’s gone I couldn’t have asked for much more.”

We’ve got form: Hatters have never played Woking in a league match before, with their only visit to the Cards coming back in the Football League Trophy on October 22, 2002.

Luton won 2-0 with Peter Holmes scoring on 26 minutes, followed by David Deeney’s 57th minute strike.

The likes of Kevin Foley, Ahmet Brkovic and Leon Barnett all played, while the only player remaining at the club from the team that day is goalkeeper Dean Brill, who was an unused sub, with striker James Osborn making his one and only Hatters appearance.

Hatters: Mark Ovendale, Ian Hillier, David Deeney, Alan Kimble, Marvin Johnson (Leon Barnett 86), Ahmet Brkovic, Peter Holmes, Lee Mansell, Michael Leary, James Osborn (Parys Okai 72), Matthew Judge (Kevin Foley 56).

Attendance: 1,216.

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