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Match Preview: County v Woking FC
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The long anticipated return of fans to Edgeley Park is finally upon us this weekend, with over 2,000 fans set to be in attendance for our game against out of form Woking in the National League.
Last Sunday’s thrilling 2-2 draw at home to Torquay United unfortunately meant the end of our title hopes, but crucially kept our chances of a top three finish in our own hands, as we moved back above Hartlepool into third on goal difference.
Hartlepool aren’t in action until Sunday this weekend, when they travel to league leaders and champions elect Sutton, meaning a win this weekend would see us take a huge step towards that top three place, which would see us guarantee a home play-off semi-final in three weeks’ time.
For 20th placed Woking, their wretched recent form continued last weekend as they went down 2-1 at Solihull Moors – a tenth successive National League defeat as The Cards begin to fold.
Since we last met:
When these two sides met at the Kingfield Stadium at the end of January, it marked the first game under manager Simon Rusk following his appointment three days previous.
It was the perfect start for the new gaffer too, as goals from Connor Jennings, John Rooney and Macauley Southam-Hales saw us race into a 3-0 lead by half-time, before an Alex Reid strike in the second half sealed a 4-1 away win – and a first ever victory for County against Woking.
Connor Jennings scored the first goal of the Simon Rusk era when we travelled to Woking back in January.
That result meant County ended the day in 3rd place, 12 points off the top with three games in hand, whilst Woking remained in 16th with 23 points from 19 games after going a fifth straight game without a win.
Life hasn’t gotten much better for Alan Dowson’s side since, either. Despite impressive FA Trophy wins against both Sutton and Torquay, the Cards have continued to struggle for form in the National League, picking up just 12 points from their 21 games since that day.
The Surrey side have won just three league games in that period, against Barnet, King’s Lynn and Wealdstone, and have also suffered heavy defeats to the likes of Notts County, Wrexham, Chesterfield and Weymouth.
With the reprieve of having relegation removed for the 2020/21 season, Woking’s hopes of a successful season lay with their FA Trophy run after making it through to the semi-final, bidding to reach the final at Wembley for the first time since winning the competition 1997.
Unfortunately it wasn’t to be for the part-timers, as they were stunned 1-0 by National League North side Hereford to be denied a final against Honchurch Town at Wembley in this weekend’s final.
Since then their form has completely nosedived, as with nothing to play for the Club made the decision to use the rest of the season to blood some of their academy players, whilst they have also suffered the loss of some of their key players to injury.
County will be bidding to break a post-war club record by avoiding defeat this weekend.
The Cards have picked up just one point from 13 games since that semi-final defeat, including that unwanted club-record run of ten successive defeats, to leave them 20th, above only Barnet and King’s Lynn in the division.
Their joint top scorers, Kane Ferdinand, Max Kretzschmar and Jamar Loza, all have six goals to their name, although none of them have been involved in recent weeks. They do have a former County striker amongst the ranks in the shape of Sam Dalby, who had a brief loan spell at Edgeley Park earlier this season from Championship side Watford.
Woking showed just a few weeks ago however that they are still fighting for the cause, as they pushed leaders Sutton all the way at Gander Green Lane, before eventually losing out 3-2.
With everything still to play for in the hunt for the top three, Saturday promises to be an entertaining and emotional day, that will always be remembered as the day that County fans came home.
- Our 4-1 win at Woking earlier in the season was our first ever win against the Cards, in what was our sixth competitive meeting. Woking have won on all three previous visits to Edgeley Park.
- Avoiding defeat here would see County break a new Club post-war record for our longest unbeaten league run in a single season, making it 17 games without defeat.
- Over Simon Rusk’s 25 games in charge, County have scored more (45) and conceded less (14) than any other side in the National League.
Our Match Sponsor for this game will be Safe and Secure Solutions. We’d like to thank them for their fantastic support.
In association with LV Bet.