Cards do the double over the Shots
9:40pm, Sat 2nd Jan 2016
Woking 2 Aldershot Town 1
Vanarama National League
2 January 2016
The Cards achieved their first-ever ‘double’ over the Shots this afternoon but it was a close-run thing in the end as a spirited Aldershot side hammered at Woking’s door in the closing stages.
Woking had taken the lead midway through the first half when Joe Quigley (pictured) had swept home after some typically skilful play from John Goddard had created the opening. Shortly before half-time the Cards added a second as Quigley reciprocated, nodding the ball on for Goddard to finish coolly past the Shots’ Phil Smith. The visitors pulled a goal back in the 74th minute when substitute Rhys Browne hammered home after Jake Cole had blocked the initial effort from Jim Stevenson. Corners and free-kicks rained in on the Woking goalmouth towards the end, with the woodwork saving Garry Hill’s side with two minutes to go, but the Cards held on for a win which puts them only three points off the play-off places.
On a damp, grey afternoon, with a slippery pitch still scuffing up standing water in places, both sides lined up unchanged from the sides which had started their respective drawn games the previous Monday. In a bright opening, Bruno Andrade broke quickly down the right and also headed wide, whilst Daniel Carr hit a rising effort over the bar from distance.
With Mark Ricketts and Matt Robinson both working effectively in midfield, the Shots were largely kept well at bay, but, at the other end, an Omar Beckles slip nearly allowed Goddard in on goal, Holman headed over and a slick Woking move broke down when Goddard momentarily lost control of the ball. From the resulting corner the Cards nearly gained a very early lead, Joey Jones’s downward header being scrambled away at the foot of the post before Smith seized it.
After the lively Charlie Walker had tried another effort from distance the game settled down for a while, with generally scrappy play in midfield, with neither side being able to conjure any clear opportunities.
In the 20th minute Jones shot well over from long range, while the visitors’ Carr crossed for Stevenson to shoot not far over the Woking bar.
In the 25th minute, however, a touch of magic from Goddard produced the crucial opening goal. In typical fashion, he feinted to turn inside, leaving two defenders in his wake as he crossed low for Quigley to side-foot home from about ten yards out.
A few minutes later there were premature celebrations from the home fans for goal number two as Quigley volleyed in from a free-kick, only for the linesman’s flag to intervene, much to the delight of the Shots fans.
Andrade then distinguished himself in a defensive role, chasing back impressively to foil an Aldershot counter-attack.
The Shots came closest to equalising in the 37th minute when a cross by substitute Dan Walker, on for Sam Hatton, was met by Charlie Walker but Cole was equal to the test, tipping his header over the bar. The resulting corner saw Charlie Walker, from a very tight angle beyond the far post, loop the ball onto the top of the crossbar as it went on its way out of play.
A minute later Holman robbed a defender on the bye-line. Goddard was free in the centre of the goalmouth but Holman’s chip – whether intended for him or as an effort on goal – hit the side-netting via a deflection.
After Jones and Andrade had both defended stoutly Woking attacked again. Goddard’s free-kick produced an excellent save from Smith as he clawed the ball away from under his bar. But it was only a short reprieve for the Shots for, on the stroke of half-time, Jones played the ball forward to Quigley, who nodded on. Holman was possibly marginally offside at this point but it was Goddard who scampered through and advanced to calmly slot the ball past Smith to give the Cards an arguably flattering 2-0 lead at half-time.
Half-time: Woking 2 Aldershot Town 0
Holman – presumably injured – did not reappear for the second half, Gez Sole coming on to replace him. The opening quarter of an hour was pretty comfortable for the home side, with relatively little threat from the visitors. Robinson had two chances to put the game beyond their reach. Seizing on a nice lay-off from the energetic Sole, he shot narrowly wide. Then a quick break out of defence saw Quigley play the ball out wide to Andrade. With the Shots’ defence at sixes and sevens, Andrade crossed early into the path of the on-rushing Robinson but he failed to connect cleanly – in fairness, arriving at speed on a very greasy pitch – and the chance was lost.
Perhaps encouraged by this ‘let off’, the Shots gradually came more into the game. Jones had to block an effort and then the Woking defence nearly conceded an own goal as the ball spun off a defender only to be cleared off the line. Jake Gallagher had a good sight of the Woking goal but blasted over and Charlie Walker shot narrowly wide of Cole’s left-hand post, although the Woking keeper had it covered. Oastler then planted a header over the bar.
In the 60th minute Garry Hill brought on Chris Arthur for Andrade and, while Arthur may have helped to stiffen the defence, the change also seemed to have the effect of limiting Woking’s outlets as the game wore on – and this was intensified when Keiran Murtagh replaced Quigley in the 77th minute. Clearances tended to result in further opportunities for the Shots to load the ball into the box – more in the hope, it seemed, of feeding off loose balls than winning clean headers.
And it was from a loose ball in the box that the Shots gained a lifeline in the 74th minute. Stevenson’s initial effort was saved by Cole but he stood no chance as substitute Rhys Browne blasted the rebound into the net.
With their tails up, the Shots pressed hard for an equaliser, conscious that time was running out. Browne headed wide but the Cards also had two promising attacks as Caprice’s low centre evaded everyone and then Murtagh managed to get down the bye-line to set up a half-chance for Robinson. But in a nerve-racking finish for home fans the ball was soon down the other end and into the side-netting for another corner.
With only two minutes to go, the Cards had a stroke of luck when Charlie Walker slammed a loose ball against the woodwork. With four minutes of added time to play, there was still time for a succession of crosses and free-kicks in a nail-biting finish, which ended with Sean McGinty putting the last chance over the bar to the relief of the home fans.
Although the Cards had looked comfortable at half-time and during the early part of the second half, this proved to be a hard-fought contest in the end as a spirited Shots side pressed hard right to the finish. Woking had looked the more accomplished side in the first half, with Goddard, Andrade, Holman and Quigley combining well; with Ricketts and Robinson working effectively in midfield; and with the wonderfully composed Jones and hard-working Cameron Norman in particular looking solid in defence. But, having failed to extend their lead after half-time, and perhaps disrupted to some extent by substitutions, the Cards had to dig deep to secure this precious win.
Cards fans will be hoping that the recent surge towards the play-off places won’t be halted by the potential loss of a handful of loan players who have all played with exemplary commitment and no little skill.
Woking: Jake Cole, Jake Caprice, Joey Jones, Brian Saah, Cameron Norman, Bruno Andrade (Chris Arthur 60), Matt Robinson, Mark Ricketts, John Goddard, Dan Holman (Giuseppe Sole 46), Joe Quigley (Keiran Murtagh 79)
Unused subs: Nick Hamann, Jimmy Keohane
Goals: John Goddard 25, Joe Quigley 45
Booked: Jake Caprice
Aldershot Town: Phil Smith, Joe Oastler, Sean McGinty, Sam Hatton (Dan Walker 32), Jim Stevenson, Tom Richards (Rhys Browne 50), Charlie Walker, Cheye Alexander, Omar Beckles, Jake Gallagher, Daniel Carr
Unused subs: Damon Lathrope, Luke Oliver, Dan Thomas
Goal: Rhys Browne 74
Booked: Cheye Alexander, Sean McGinty
Sponsors’ MOTM: Joe Quigley
Attendance: 3708 (808 away fans)