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WOKING 0 ALDERSHOT TOWN 1

John Moore - 27th December 2007

Woking 0 Aldershot Town 1
26 December 2007

In a typically close-fought local derby, Aldershot snatched all three points twelve minutes from time, to end the Cards? five-game unbeaten run and move seven points clear at the top of the table. With the game looking likely to end in a draw, substitute Kirk Hudson popped up with a clinical finish to finally pierce Woking?s Scrooge-like defence and send the 1500 plus Shots? fans, in a bumper festive crowd of almost four and a half thousand, home in raptures.

Frank Gray made two changes from Saturday?s side that beat Stevenage in the Setanta Shield, with Paul Lorraine replacing broken-hand victim Matt Ruby at right-back, and Gez Sole slotting in up front instead of Liam Marum, who reverted to the bench.

No doubt buoyed by their recent good run of form, Woking started in confident fashion, with both Morgan and Sole keen to make an impression. After just three minutes, a Sole flicked header flew dangerously across the box, with no one able to apply a finishing touch, and moments later, following a towering Hutchinson header at the far post, Morgan should arguably have done better, heading straight at Nicky Bull from a central position in the box.

Two minutes later it was Kevin James? turn to get in on the act, shrugging off tackles and powering forward, only to blast wide.

Given Aldershot?s attacking prowess this season, it didn?t take long for them to strike back, with Gindre having to pull off an athletic save at the far post, somehow parrying a fiercely-struck shot just past the left-hand upright.

After twenty minutes, Woking almost snatched the lead courtesy of a free-flowing move culminating in Bunce?s cross being deftly headed into Morgan?s path by Sole, only for the resulting, deflected shot to loop up and strike the bar, much to the home supporters? disappointment.

Although Woking were having slightly the better of the early exchanges, Joel Grant looked dangerous every time the ball went out wide to him on the left, and not for the first time in the match, he showed good trickery and pace to go round Lorraine, and looked odds on to score, only for Gindre to come bravely out at his feet and somehow smother his shot.

Not long after, Gindre was called into action again in similar style, having to thwart the left-back Straker, who found himself one-on-one with the keeper following Lorraine?s misplaced header. From an almost identical position to his previous save to keep out Grant, he threw himself at the full-back?s feet and again kept the ball out.

On thirty-five minutes, the home fans would have been forgiven for thinking back to last season?s encounter, when Sole found himself in space in the box following a flick from Morgan. He turned his marker well, but, alas, on this occasion, wasted the opportunity by ballooning his shot way over the bar, when attempting to find the top corner.

Half-time: Woking 0 Aldershot Town 0

Woking started the second-half in similar fashion to the first, taking the game to Aldershot. On fifty-three minutes, the Cards put together their best move of the match and came close to opening the scoring. Pattison, who worked hard all afternoon, embarked on a typical pacy run and played in Sole, who in turn slipped the ball through to the over-lapping Green. He accurately pulled the ball back into Sole?s path, but Gez was brilliantly tackled when it looked as though he was about to side-foot the ball home.

The next opportunity fell to James, who?d made his way forward, and he got in a powerful header following good work from Morgan wide on the right. Unfortunately, the header went straight at Bull, who was able to make a comfortable save.

In the sixty-fourth minute, Aldershot almost went ahead, when, following a long throw on the right, Hutchinson headed off the line from a flicked header from centre-half Charles.

Then it Woking?s turn to threaten again, as they broke quickly away and Morgan gave Pattison a glimpse of a chance, which the strong and quick Anthony Charles snuffed out, by out-pacing and out-muscling Pattison, just when it looked as though he might be clean-through.

Aldershot are not top of the table for nothing, and in the seventy-second minute they showed their class with a classic counter-attacking move. Chalmers intercepted the ball just outside his penalty area and hit a long, raking thirty-five yard pass over the top to Grant on the left. He cut inside effortlessly, advanced into the box unopposed, and then inexplicably wasted a glorious opportunity by blazing over the bar from no more than twelve yards out.

Instead of discouraging the away side, this missed chance seemed to spur them on further, and only a brilliant blocked tackle from Lorraine prevented them from opening their account. With the Shots now upping the tempo, a further golden opportunity fell again to Grant in the seventy-fifth minute. Again, from a not dissimilar position, he blasted over and you began to wonder if Aldershot would pay for their profligacy in front of goal.

Unfortunately for the Cards, there was still a sting in the tail, courtesy of the Shots? substitute Kirk Hudson. Profiting from their other substitute, Danny Hylton?s good work in the box, he kept a cool head to slot home from close-range.

Although Woking tried hard to force an equaliser, their final ball was to let them down all too often and, consequently, Bull?s goal survived intact and, following four minutes of added time, it was the away fans turn to celebrate when the final whistle blew to end an absorbing encounter.

Despite the Cards? unbeaten run coming to an end, they will feel somewhat unlucky not to have earned a point today. Aldershot?s fitness, general play and movement were impressive, but we weren?t overawed or out-classed. In fact, the match was something of a microcosm of our season to date, with the defence generally doing well to cope with the league?s most potent attack, but up front we frequently looked lacking in composure and inspiration, with our final pass being particularly poor. With the second-half of the season to come, this is clearly an area to try and improve upon.

Woking: Gindre, Lorraine, Hutchinson, Gasson, Bunce, James, Green, Gray (Quamina), Pattison (Lambu), Sole (Marum) Morgan.

Unused substitutes: Worner and Hussey.

Attendance: 4,356

My MOTM: Hutchinson (pictured), who led by example by being dominant in the air as well as combative in the tackle.
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