Woking at Wembley

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The Independent Online
Non-League notebook

For the third time in four seasons, Woking are going to Wembley to contest the FA Umbro Trophy final. After winning a tough battle against Stevenage Borough in Wednesday's semi-final replay at Watford, their opponents on Sunday 18 May will be Dagenham & Redbridge, who overcame Gloucester City by the same 2-1 scoreline in another replay at Slough.

After enjoying Wembley triumphs against Runcorn in 1994 and Kidderminster Harriers the following year, Woking will be the clear favourites to complete a hat-trick of victories against their opponents from the Icis League. In front of a crowd of nearly 6,000 at Vicarage Road, Clive Walker gave Woking a first-half lead with a superb long-range shot. Andy Ellis bundled in a corner to double the lead in the second half, and all Stevenage could offer in reply was a late goal from Jason Soloman.

Despite their achievements in the Trophy and in the FA Cup, not everyone at the Surrey side is satisfied. "It's been a difficult season," Geoff Chapple, their manager, admitted yesterday. "We've had a magnificent time in the cups but we should have done better in the Conference." Another Trophy win would be consolation for failing to secure promotion to the Football League, however.

As for Dagenham & Redbridge, they saw off Gloucester City, from the Dr Martens League, on Wednesday. David Holmes gave Gloucester an early lead but a goal in each half from John Stimson turned the game around. Gloucester's efforts to recover were not helped by a second-half red card for their top scorer, Dale Watkins.

Stimson was an appropriate match-winner for his team, for he has played for three of the clubs who merged to form Dagenham & Redbridge: Leytonstone & Ilford, Dagenham, and Redbridge Forest. Although the current club have never been to Wembley, Dagenham did so four times, losing FA Amateur Cup finals in 1970 and '71 and returning for Trophy finals in 1977 and 1980, when they became the first club from southern England to win the tournament.

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