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ALDERSHOT TOWN v WOKING

Brian Caffarey - 18th March 2008

ALDERSHOT TOWN v WOKING
Setanta Shield, Southern Semi-Final
7.45pm on Tuesday 18 March 2008

Can we beat the Shots on Tuesday evening at the fourth time of asking this season? Gary Waddock?s side have at last shown that they are not invincible, having succumbed to Ebbsfleet United in the FA Trophy semi-final. The Cards themselves came close to undoing the Shots in that competition and have got to believe that they can finish the job this time round in the Setanta Shield. If you can?t get to the Rec to watch the game, see it live on Setanta!

WOKING

The Cards go into Tuesday?s game with the worst ?last six league? games record in the BSP but, by all accounts, Saturday?s performance at high-flying Cambridge United was much improved and the team were unlucky not to come away with a point, being undone by a disputed penalty.

Tom Hutchinson will be available on Tuesday evening, having served his one match suspension.

THE SHOTS SQUAD

Gary Waddock has put together a young, exciting squad, with an emphasis on pace and movement. He was looking for ?younger, hungrier? players and this led to a clear-out of some of the older brigade, including former captain Darren Barnard, midfielder David Lee and Dons? legend Marcus Gayle, who was swiftly snapped up by Terry Brown at his new haunt, AFC Wimbledon.

An early signing was that of Anthony Straker, a former England U18 full back from Crystal Palace. We saw at the Rec particularly, where he was voted ?man of the match?, that his marauding instincts are an important attacking asset for the Shots. Anthony was joined by Anthony Charles, returning to the club from Barnet; Charles was part of the Shots? team which won promotion to the Conference in 2003. Midfield additions included Lewis Chalmers, who gained England C Team honours with Altrincham and is a long-throw expert, and Ben Harding from MK Dons, who had a loan spell at the Rec last season. An inspired season-long loan signing has been that of 19 year-old Scott Davies, who?s notched up some spectacular strikes. Up front, another promising young signing was that of Rob Elvins, a 20 year-old forward from WBA. Winger Joel ?Valentino? Grant also returned to the club from Watford after a successful loan spell last season. His pace and trickery down the Shots? left flank caused us lots of problems in previous games, although his finishing was less impressive. A more experienced arrival was that of defender Rob Gier, who of course had a brief spell at Kingfield last season. Other recent signings include reserve keeper, Venezuelan Mikhael Jaimez-Ruiz; and Junior Mendes, an experienced 31 year-old striker who has amassed over 300 league appearances in English and Scottish football.

The Shots lost striker Jonny Dixon in the transfer window, transferred to Brighton and Hove Albion for an initial fee of ?56,000. John Grant has been out of action with an ankle injury. But it was fellow striker Kirk Hudson, recently voted BSP ?player of the month?, who did the greatest damage in our holiday games. Ricky Newman provides great experience in midfield or in defence, where he complements captain Rhys Day and Dave Winfield. Nikki Bull has been in excellent form in goal. The Shots have had to do without winger Ryan Williams, though, who is recovering from an operation.

SEASON SO FAR

The Shots? have been remarkably consistent, home and away, in the BSP and look certainties for automatic promotion to the League, with a 10 point lead over second-placed Cambridge United. They lost their opening home game 3-0 to Torquay but then went on a fantastic run, being beaten only once (at home to Crawley 1-0) in their next 11 games. The only subsequent league defeats have been at the hands of Stevenage Borough, Burton Albion, Grays Athletic, York City and Forest Green Rovers. Their home record reads: won 15, drawn 1, lost 3.

In the FA Cup the Shots bowed out to Cambridge United in the First Round. In the Trophy the Shots disposed of Hayes and Yeading, ourselves, Braintree and Tamworth. But the Shots? form deserted them in the two-legged semi-final against Ebbsfleet United, losing away 2-0 and drawing at home 1-1 on Saturday.

PREVIOUS ENCOUNTERS

Our record against the Shots is dire! We had to wait till last season to gain our first league win against them. In front of a 3,700 crowd and the TV cameras at Kingfield, the Cards turned in probably their best display of the season against a Shots side embarrassingly forced to wear Woking?s third strip. Steve Evans gave Woking a first half lead after Gez Sole had brilliantly hooked the ball back across goal from beyond the far post. Ollie Berquez nearly made it two as his shot crashed against the post. The points were made safe in the 88th minute as Gez capitalised on defensive confusion to out jump Nikki Bull and then recover in time to slot the ball home. In the return encounter in March the Cards stormed into an early lead through Daniel Webb, making his debut, before Kirk Hudson?s soft goal evened things up just before the break. Webb played in Craig McAllister fifteen minutes into the second half to put Woking on top again, only for John Grant to level the scores once more. Gary MacDonald was then sent off with ten minutes to go but the Cards survived the final Shots? onslaught.

This season our Boxing Day encounter against the Shots at Kingfield was a closely-fought affair but, as the clubs? respective goal tallies show, our Hampshire friends can muster more firepower and Kirk Hudson eventually struck to gain three valuable points. In the return encounter on New Year?s Day at the Rec we went down again, this time 2-1. The Cards conceded two goals in a poor 20 minute spell in the first half but rallied after the break, having the better of the second half and pulling a goal back through a Giuseppe Sole penalty after Tom Hutchinson had been fouled in the box. In the FA Trophy tie on 12 January the Cards were deservedly 2-1 up midway in the second half after Jason Norville, making his debut, and Marvin Morgan had replied to Louis Soares?s opening goal but then threw the game away with defensive errors to allow the Shots to romp home 4-2.

SETANTA SHIELD

The Setanta Shield is, in effect, the latest incarnation of the Conference League Cup, a competition open to all Conference sides which began when the Conference was formed in the 1979-80 season and which ran for 22 seasons until it was scrapped at the end of the 2000-01 season. It was revived in the 2004-05 season, during which it managed to acquire four different names: the Football Conference Challenge Cup, the Carthium Cup, the National Conference Cup and the GLS (Gladwish Land Sales) Cup. The Cards beat Stalybridge Celtic in the Final of the GLS Cup 1-0 at Stalybridge with a deflected shot by Karl Murray just before the end, thus adding another impressive entry to Glenn?s cv! The GLS Cup was scrapped after only one season because of the lack of interest shown by fans ? not helped by under-strength teams being played on a number of occasions. This is being countered in the Setanta Shield by rules that require clubs to name in their 16 a high proportion of the squads for their previous two league games. The competition is split into northern and southern sections apart from the final.

In Round Four of the competition the Cards beat a less-than-full-strength Stevenage Borough side 2-1 with goals from Liam Marum and Gez Sole (a trademark free-kick just after he?d come on as a substitute). In the Fifth Round the Cards overcame Forest Green Rovers 1-0, thanks to a Chris Giles own goal. In the Quarter-Final Woking romped home 3-0 against Weymouth, with another own goal and fine strikes from Liam Marum and Marvin Morgan.

Aldershot?s progress so far has been:

Aldershot Town 1 Oxford United 0
St Albans City 0 Aldershot Town 4
Crawley Town 2 Aldershot Town 6 (aet)

The Northern section semi-final is:

Rushden and Diamonds v Halifax Town/Burton Albion

Prize money for the later stages of the competition is:

Fourth round ? ?2,500
Fifth round ? ?3,500
Quarter-final ? ?5,000
Semi-final ? ?5,500
Runners-up ? ?6,000
Winners ? ?12,000

So, the Cards have already pocketed ?11,000 in prize money, plus ?5,000 for the televised Forest Green encounter. We?ll get another ?2,000, as the away team, for the television coverage at the Rec but it would be nice to have the ?5,500 prize money too!

GETTING THERE

Aldershot Town FC
The Recreation Ground
High Street
Aldershot
Hampshire
GU11 1TW

by coach ? ring the Club Shop for details of the Supporters? Club coach.

by car ? head for A322. At Fox Corner take second exit, signposted for Pirbright and Aldershot, and then follow signs for Aldershot on the A324 and then A323.

by train ? Aldershot station is very close to the Rec: the ground can be seen on the right as you pull into Aldershot from Woking. Just turn right after the station forecourt and head down the hill: you will see the floodlights ahead of you. The 18.53 from Woking gets in at 19.10. There?s a train back at 22.04.

OTHER THINGS YOU MIGHT LIKE TO KNOW

? away fans ? are usually allocated part of the East Bank and the adjoining open terrace. Some seats are made available in the South Stand. Signs direct away fans to the away turnstiles in Redan Road. Allow a good five minutes to get up the hill and round to the turnstiles.

? admission prices ? Standing: Adults ?13, Concessions ?9, U16s ?8. Seats: Adults ?16, Concessions ?10, U16s ?9, Disabled ?7 (carer free). Entrance is on the gate tonight

? colours ? the Shots play in red and blue, so the Cards will be in their away strip.


Come on, you Cards!
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