(Gozie Ugwu x3)
Saturday’s (unless it’s the FA Cup) are becoming more and more frustrating as I try and find the perfect match to fill my afternoon. I usually get so bogged down in choice that I usually throw all my toys out of the pram and end up at the Bypass Ground watching Romsey Town.
The fact that Romsey were at home on this particular Saturday was playing on my mind as I was determined to tick off a new ground. I was going to head up to Barnet versus Notts County, however one of my pals playing for County couldn’t guarantee me a ticket so I couldn’t justify spending £25 on a ticket for a League Two match.
There are plenty of Football League grounds I am keen to tick off, Brentford, AFC Wimbledon and Barnet are just three in London I wouldn’t mind visiting.
However after coming so close to wasting another Saturday, I bit the bullet and decided on Woking against Gateshead.
I had been to Woking’s Kingfield Stadium and seen it from the outside when visiting the area earlier this year but I had never been there for a game.
The big all-seated stand behind the goal really shows how the rest of the ground is desperate for a revamp, not that I think it is necessary, just stating that having one very new looking stand ages the rest of the ground.
On entry to the stadium, it all seems a bit disjointed with a maze of cabins acting as a clubhouse, changing rooms and a little tea hut at the back of the stand.
The new stand is impressive, the WFC in the seats give it that Football League feel and if the rest of the ground was to match it, what a ground it would be.
Down one side there is uncovered raised terracing, ideal for a dry day but would be very empty (or filled with umbrellas) on a wet day. It was perfect for today as I placed myself close to the half way line.
Opposite is a covered disabled area neighbouring two unique seated stands, one with wooden stairs and plastic seats with no backs (alright if your posture is on point).
The other stand which looks to be above the tunnel and changing rooms housed a relatively big media/press area as well as some seats, however I didn’t explore that part of the ground too much.
Opposite the new stand is fairly generic standing terrace, filled with the Woking faithful who were in full voice.
All in all for the National League, holding just over 7,000 capacity, the ground is a perfect stage and I wish the club every success in staying in Non-League’s highest division.
Gozie Ugwu netted a hat trick as lowly Woking took all three points against mid-table Gateshead.
The former Reading player gave the Cards a 1-0 lead at the break before completing his hat trick off the back of some calamitous defending from the Heed.
Gateshead had much of the ball in the opening minutes, causing jovial chants from the home supporters asking for the ball back as captain Liam Hogan headed over the bar from a corner for the visitors.
However it was Garry Hill’s Woking who took the lead on nine minutes when some tenacious running from wing back Jake Caprice whipped in a lovely ball to Ugwu who headed into the corner of the net. Caprice could have gone down after a nudge from Hogan but he managed to stay on his feet and as the referee called play on before he fired the ball to Ugwu for the opening goal of the game.
Woking bottled a great chance to double the lead when Fabio Saraiva played the ball through to Watford loanee Dennon Lewis who raced into the box before squaring a ball to Kieran Murtagh who couldn’t quite stretch to put the ball in at the back post.
Gateshead ‘keeper Dan Hanford then made a fingertips save to deny Ugwu his second of the day when the striker hit a first time shot from 18 yards after being played in by Murtagh.
Woking held firm at the back and survived what Neil Aspin’s men had to offer in attack despite Danny Johnson hitting the post with a tame shot after Gateshead had managed to block the clearance.
In the second half defender James Bolton came close to pulling the scores level with a close range volley but his effort cleared the bar and the stand from a long throw.
As Gateshead enjoyed a good spell of pressure, they were undone by a combination of a long clearance and loose tuft of grass. Joey Jones’ long punt up field looked easy to deal with but as Manny Smith passed back to Hanford, the ‘keeper was undone by a bobble and despite him blocking Saraiva’s first effort, the ball fell to Ugwu to slot into the corner.
The Heed continued to attack but were missing that cutting edge finish as Johnson fired into the side netting.
If Gateshead were going to score, their main threat was through Johnson and his best chance fell to him in the six-yard box from Patrick McLaughlin’s little chip. However Brandon Hall did well to close the angle and get his body in the way.
Aspin’s side were undone again on the break as they threw men forward and Frazer Shaw sent Ugwu on his way towards goal. McLaughlin had beaten the striker to the ball but he made a hash of the headed back pass and Ugwu nipped in to lob Hanford who had come out to collect the back pass.
The game was dead and buried as Woking worked hard to hold onto the clean sheet and pick up a valuable three points.
2016/17 Games: 62
2016/17 Grounds: 47
Total Grounds Visited: 179