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A dispiriting afternoon

Brian Caffarey - 26th December 2016

A dispiriting afternoon Aldershot Town 4 Woking 0
26 December 2016
Vanarama National League

The contrast with the Cards’ win in the corresponding fixture last season could not have been more stark, with Garry Hill’s current side completely outplayed by a rampant Shots side, who found themselves 3-0 up by the 25th minute, adding another before half-time. To rub salt into the wounds, the main damage was done by former Card, Scott Rendell, who bagged a hat-trick. The other ‘old boy’, Jake Cole, stuck the knife in too, saving a penalty, although if Anthony Edgar’s strike had gone in, it would have been no more than a consolation goal – not that that would have consoled those Cards fans who had had to endure another humiliating afternoon.

Garry made four changes from the side which drew 0-0 with Guiseley, bringing in new signing Kane Ferdinand, Keiran Murtagh and Charlie Carter into midfield, while Frazer Shaw also returned, with Nathan Ralph pushed forward on the left of midfield. Terell Thomas and Fabio Saraiva found themselves on the bench, but Chike Kandi, Dennon Lewis and Frankie Sutherland were all missing from the team sheet.

On a bright sunny afternoon the Cards kicked towards the main stand, with Woking fans in one corner. It didn’t take long for the warning signs to appear as Anthony Straker, who seemed to be able to attack and cross almost at will down Woking’s right flank, found Idris Kanu at the near post. His stabbed effort curled just the wrong side of the post. But when the breakthrough came in the 8th minute it was gifted on a plate. Brandon Hall, so reliable recently, dropped a fairly simple cross over his head, the ball being promptly hooked in by Rendell, whose celebrations were certainly not muted.

Three minutes later the Shots doubled their lead. The ball was threaded through the centre of the Woking defence, with Ismail Yakubu unable to stop Shamir Fenelon poking home.

The Shots continued to dominate, moving the ball quickly in short passing moves and usually finding one of their own players – in contrast to many of Woking’s moves, which seemed to rely on balls played forward more in hope than expectation.

The Cards nearly conceded another goal in the 14th minute from an in-swinging corner, with a defender just able to deflect the ball away for another corner on the opposite side. There was a brief attacking flurry from the Cards as Shaw got down the left and fired a couple of crosses in before Joey Jones’s shot was blocked, with the referee also blowing for offside.

The Shots’ third goal duly arrived in the 25th minute. A corner was swung in. Rendell, effectively unchallenged, stooped and guided the ball into the corner.

A few minutes later, Woking broke up field following an interception but it typified proceedings that not one of the three players haring forward could be targeted accurately.

Jake Cole, a virtual bystander for most of the game, came mightily close to handling the ball outside his area in the 35th minute.

A minute later Rendell ought to have secured his hat-trick when yet another Straker cross found him unmarked again but he headed down into the ground instead of goalwards.

In the 39th minute the Cards came close to registering their first shot on target as Gozie Ugwu, who worked hard all afternoon, beat a couple of players in the box, only to see his shot blocked for a corner. He was also responsible for a decent cross shortly afterwards from the other flank. Shaw then tried to get round two defenders as the ball spun to him but he was crowded out.

In the 42nd minute Fenelon spurned another chance for the fourth goal as he failed to take advantage of a free header. But it didn’t matter because, as the half moved into added time, a fine move, begun with a clever flick inside, saw Kanu drill a cross to the far post, where Rendell was waiting to stab home and complete his hat-trick.

Half-time: Aldershot Town 4 Woking 0

It is hard to imagine that Garry Hill could have said anything at half-time to alter the course of this game, so the most that could be hoped for was probably to ‘show some pride and avoid an absolute tanking’.

For the first few minutes it looked as though the Shots would simply carry on where they left off but the Cards gradually seemed to get in the game a bit more, although one suspected that this was more to do with Aldershot taking their foot off the gas. Ugwu was unceremoniously floored by Gallagher as he threatened to break clear. Ralph got in a weak shot, which was blocked, and Caprice found a little more space but without either being able to get round his man or put in a telling cross.

In the 60th minute Garry brought on Saraiva for Murtagh and Anthony Edgar for Ralph. But a minute later the deficit was nearly five goals as Rendell had another free header from a free-kick and then Conroy blasted over the bar.

Terell Thomas then came on for Yakubu. The Shots continued to look dangerous as Kanu and Mensah drove forward, but the Woking defence and midfield managed to block any goalbound efforts.

The 72nd minute saw the first real goal attempt from the Cards as Edgar, who looked quite lively down the left, played in Ugwu, whose shot was blocked by the advancing Cole. An ironic chant of ‘we’ve had a shot’ from the Woking fans said it all. But then, out of the blue, a penalty was gained. Carter was pushed in the back just inside the area as he tried to sustain an attack. Up stepped Edgar to take the kick. His run-up didn’t look all that convincing and he placed the ball too near Cole. It seemed as if Edgar might be able to tuck the rebound away but the ball was nicked off his feet.

Ugwu did well in the 75th minute to break clear down the right but Straker was just able to divert the ball away for a corner before he could shoot. A few minutes later the Woking striker threatened again as he sold a dummy, running through to see his shot blocked for another corner.

The only action of note in the last ten minutes or so was a terrific run by Mensah, slaloming through several defenders from right to left across the box before he lifted his shot over Hall’s bar.

This was a thoroughly dispiriting afternoon for Cards fans. Defensive weaknesses were to the fore once more – if Aldershot had been ruthless, the scoreline could have been doubled. There seemed to be no coherence to Woking’s play and too many players were simply anonymous.

The defeat leaves Woking one place above the relegation places on goal difference.

Aldershot Town: Jake Cole, Anthony Straker, Shamir Fenelon (Matt McLure 61), Scott Rendell (Jim Kellermann 77), Bernard Mensah, Cheye Alexander, Jake Gallagher, Dion Conroy, Idris Kanu, Kundai Benyu (Will Evans 83), Callum Reynolds

Unused sub: Mark Smith

Goals: Scott Rendell 8, 25 and 45; Shamir Fenelon 10

Bookings: Jake Gallagher, Kundai Benyu

Woking: Brandon Hall, Jake Caprice, Ismail Yakubu (Terell Thomas 66), Brian Saah, Frazer Shaw, Joey Jones, Nathan Ralph (Anthony Edgar 60), Charlie Carter, Keiran Murtagh (Fabio Saraiva 60), Kane Ferdinand, Gozi Ugwu

Unused subs: Michael Poke, Delano Sam-Yorke

My Woking MOTM: Gozie Ugwu: never stopped working and made the most of the little service and support he was given.

Attendance: 3456 (527 Woking fans)
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