TT Match Preview – Woking FC by Josh Boulcott

“I’m confident of making the play offs, but I think winning the league will be slightly out of our reach this season”.

TT asked Josh Boulcott about Woking FC as we approach the weekend’s cup game at Plainmoor:

Hi Josh – thanks for speaking to TorquayTalk, tell us a bit about yourself and how long have you supported ‘the Cards’?

A recent Geography graduate, I’ve been supporting Woking since the age of 6, with my first match in April 2001; a 0-2 loss against Dagenham and Redbridge in the Nationwide Conference. Since my dad took me to that match I’ve been hooked ever since, and I’ve been a season ticket holder for a number of years now. 

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We are familiar foes having played each other plenty of times in recent years, what were your thoughts when the cup draw was made?

My initial thoughts when the draw was made was slight disappointment as on paper it’s a rather dull and uninspiring draw, away from home (with the greatest of respect to Torquay!). However, thinking about it more, the draw could have been a lot worse, and it’s a winnable tie and a great chance to get into the 2nd round. 

How gutting was it getting relegated from the National League and how did the club tackle the challenge of rebuilding for life in the NLS?

Last season from Christmas onward was a complete mess. We lost our 2 best players in the January window to league clubs, and another key player to injury. The manager didn’t replace them adequately, and teams sussed out our early season tactics. Despite this, he refused to change his approach, and as a result we only won 3 league games from December onward and plummeted down the table. Limbrick was finally sacked after the 2-1 loss against Torquay, but by this point it was too late to save our National League status. 

In the summer, we bought in Hampton & Richmond Borough manager Alan Dowson, only a few days after they had lost the play-off final to Braintree. He went to work building a completely new team (only 3 players survived from last season), however it was challenging as the budget had been slashed from last season. 

The team have started very well, what have been your highlights of the season so far?

It’s been a somewhat strange start to the season for us, as we find ourselves in 3rd place, 3 points off top without having played particularly well in most matches. We’ve struggled with injuries to key players, and have had to rely on youth loans as well as using players from our academy. However, we started the season very well, with the highlights probably being scoring a last minute away to East Thurrock in the first game of the season, and a good performance to beat Billericay 2-1 at home. 

It’s also nice to reach the 1st round of the FA Cup for the third season in a row, as we’ve had some great memories in recent years in the competition, notably beating League 1 Bury 0-3 away from home in a replay last season. 

How’s ex-Gull Ben Gerring performing at Woking?

He’s started OK for us so far, looking a real danger from corners, scoring 2 goals already from them. However, defensively he does seem to struggle at times and gets a little flat footed, with a lack of pace an issue against fast strikers. He is starting to form a good partnership with our other CB Cook, and I can only see him improving the more game time he gets. 

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Apart from Ben, which players should we look out for this Saturday and why?

Jamar Loza, on loan from Maidstone has looked very impressive since coming in last month, with his pace and trickery causing many issues for defenders. He scored 2 away to Chippenham on Saturday, and was certainly MOTM. 

Presuming he’s fit enough to play, striker Harvey Bradbury, on loan from Oxford United, is a real danger man, scoring 4 goals in 2 games for us until his injury. He’s a proper target man, with strength, decent pace and a good finish on him. 

Have you got the right man in charge and what sort of tactics does he employ?

When Alan Dowson was appointed manager in May, most of our fans were in agreement that it was a good, sensible appointment. He worked wonders at Hampton and Kingstonian on small budgets, and knows the league well. Our solid start to the season with a completely new squad would suggest he is the right man in charge, and fans have really warmed to him. He also seems to really care about the football club, and just this week ran 100 laps round our pitch to raise money for 2 of our players out injured who are on pay-as-you-play contracts. 

Tactics-wise, he’s been playing with one up top most of the season, with a diamond midfield, using pace on the wing, but also on occasion in that number 10 role. He’s big on defence, quite literally, with height not an issue in our back line. 

Who owns/runs Woking FC and what are their future ambitions for the club?

Currently, club director Peter Jordan, who has put a lot of money into the club in past 5 or so years, controls 66% of the shares of the club, with the supporters trust controlling 29%. Our chairman is Rosemary Johnson, an ex-councillor and mayor of Woking, who with Peter and other directors run the club. The club for many years have been trying to find investment from other sources, especially so in recent seasons with directors unable to put as much money in as they once did.

It was announced in the summer plans to build a 10,000 seat stadium on the site of our current ground, financed by the construction of up to 900 flats on the surrounding land around the stadium.  In July, the council backed the project by approving a viability assessment for the redevelopment. A planning application is being produced currently, and we’re all eagerly awaiting these proposals. 

Are you confident of ‘the Cards’ achieving promotion this season and who do you think will be your main challengers?

I’m confident of making the play offs, but I think winning the league will be slightly out of our reach this season. I can see Billericay eventually pulling clear at the top and winning the league. As for the play-offs, I think it will be us, Torquay, Welling and Chelmsford for sure, with the remaining spots up for grabs for a host of teams. It seems to be a relatively tight division this season, so anyone who makes the play-offs will know they have a great chance of promotion. 

Will there be many Woking fans making the trip down to Plainmoor and what is your prediction for the cup game?

The club have laid on cheap coach travel down to the game, so we’ve completely filled 3 coaches. With many also driving down or getting the train, we should have a following of around 300, which will hopefully make for a good atmosphere! As for the game, I’m expecting it to be tight, with 2 evenly matched teams. My heart says a 1-2 win, but my head says a 1-1 draw, with us winning the replay. 

 

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That’s brilliant Josh and the cheap coach travel is a nice gesture by the club to the supporters. I think it will be a cracking game on Saturday afternoon (with us winning though!!), cheers for talking to us and have a safe trip down – Dom

 


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