PREVIEW: Woking v Luton Town
After a decent season on their return to the Conference as Woking finished in 12th place, just five points behind Luton, this term isn’t going quite so smoothly for the Cards, especially on home soil, writes Mike Simmonds.
The Surrey side based their success last season on a mightily impressive home record, as they won 13 times, the joint third best amount of home wins in the league behind Mansfield and Kidderminster.
It has then come as quite a surprise that they are yet to win at Kingfield so far this season, taking two points out of a possible 12.
A goalless draw with Woking started the campaign, before they lost against Welling (4-2) and Gateshead (2-1), recovering to then draw with Tamworth 2-2.
On their travels, Garry Hill’s side have fared better, winning at Chester and Hyde already.
Just two victories and two draws from their opening 10 games does place them closer than they would have liked to the bottom four though, as they would be amongst the relegation places were it not for Aldershot’s 10-point deduction.
Woking made some astute signings during the summer with Josh Payne, who started his career at West Ham, making two appearances in the Premier League and ex-Watford winger Anthony McNamee, both joining from Aldershot.
The experienced Gavin Williams joined from Yeovil too, with the midfielder having signed for fees totalling £550k in his career.
Hill also brought in Freddie Ladapo on loan from Colchester and borrowed Walsall striker George Bowerman too, plus Town forward Scott Rendell, while keeping hold of the always impressive Kevin Betsy.
Out went Adam Doyle, Loick Pires, Elvijs Putnins and Jack Mazzone, although Hill downplayed any extra money being pumped into the club.
He said: “There is no change. Any football manager at any level always wants a little bit more to go and work with, but it’s not to be.
“I do respect that the security and safety of Woking is far more important than people running away with egos.”
Team news: Hatters could have both striker Paul Benson and defender Alex Lacey available for selection after the pair trained yesterday.
Anthony Charles needs another reserve team game, while Jon Shaw (hernia) and Danny Fitzsimons (knee) are out.
Striker Alex Wall serves the final match of his three game suspension.
Top Skrill scorer - Cards: Gavin Williams (5). Hatters: Luke Guttridge (4).
Man in the middle: Lee Swabey - has taken four games this season, showing nine yellows and one red so far.
Officiated Luton once last year, when Town lost 3-2 at home to Braintree, sending off striker Stuart Fleetwood after 28 minutes.
Games with Swabey in charge at Woking usually lead to goals as he was at Kingfield for their 6-1 hammering of Nuneaton, a 5-4 victory over Macclesfield and a 2-1 defeat to Mansfield.
In total last term, he displayed 42 cautions in his 19 games, with three reds.
In charge: Garry Hill – began his non-league managerial career with Heybridge Swifts, before moving to St Albans and then taking over at Dagenham & Redbridge in 1999.
Led the club to the Isthmian League title and promotion to the Conference in his first season in charge, before missing out on promotion to the Football league in 2001-02 on goal difference.
Resigned in 2004 season though after a 9-0 defeat at home to Hereford United.
After Daggers, he went to Hornchurch and then Weymouth and Rushden & Diamonds, where during a 1-1 draw with Salisbury, he head-butted assistant manager Tommy Widdrington, receiving a two-week suspension and a 10-game touchline ban from the FA.
Left on February 10, 2009 and was appointed Cards boss on January 20, 2011, winning promotion to the Conference, the following campaign.
Average home crowd: Luton: 6,336. Woking: 1,442.
Ones to watch: Gavin Williams - started life at Hereford in 1996, making over 100 appearances for the Bulls, before moving to Yeovil.
There he was snapped up by West Ham for £250,000 in December 2004, and moved to Ipswich for a fee of £300,000 in January 2006.
Since then had spells at Bristol City and went back to Yeovil again, before moving to Woking in the summer.
Never been shy of a goal during his career, and has five to his name already this season, including notching four in four prior to last Tuesday’s defeat at Hyde.
Friendly faces: Scott Rendell - Town striker is currently on loan at Woking and has scored once in his three appearances so far, although isn’t allowed to feature this evening.
Former Town player Adam Newton is also now with the Cards. The 33-year-old made 66 appearances for Town scoring four goals before leaving in May 2011 and quickly moved to Surrey.
Since then has played 52 times in the league, and made nine appearances this season
We’ve got form: Hatters have only visited Woking twice in their history, winning one and losing on.
Before last season’s defeat, the only other clash had been a Johnstone’s Paint Trophy tie October 2002, where Luton triumphed 2-0.
A team containing the likes of Leon Barnett, Marvin Johnson and Ahmed Brkovic enjoyed a 2-0 win thanks to goals from Peter Holmes (27) and David Deeney (57).
Last time out: Hatters went down to a thoroughly disappointing 3-1 reverse at Woking on New Year’s Day last season.
With Scott Neilson making his Town debut, the hosts took the lead on three minutes through Billy Knott, before Andre Gray hit back to level soon afterwards.
Knott scored again on 74, before Jayden Stockley (78) turned home after an error from keeper Mark Tyler to ensure the Cards took the points.
Hatters: Mark Tyler, Janos Kovacs, Jake Howells (Lathaniel Rowe-Turner 84), Simon Ainge, Scott Neilson, Ronnie Henry, Alex Lawless, Jon Shaw (Stuart Fleetwood 79), Arnaud Mendy (Jonathan Smith 79), Scott Rendell, Andre Gray.
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