Disappointing derby first leg

Emma Squibb
12:00am, Tue 26th Dec 2017
Aldershot Town 3 - 1 Woking
Vanarama National League
26th December 2017

740 Woking fans made their way to the EBB Stadium for a cold, rainy, Boxing Day derby against rivals Aldershot Town. Even before kick off the fans were in good voice, and the pressure was on for Woking to improve on their recent losses. There were four changes to Anthony Limbrick's side from the previous loss to Barrow, with Matt Young suspended for five yellow cards, replaced by Louis Ramsay, and Orlu and Jones on the bench in favour of Staunton and Isaac, back from injury. Nathan Baxter was back in goal today, with JoJo Wollacott on the bench.

Aldershot kicked off the first half, but Woking quickly took possession. Then, in just the second minute, Isaac, wearing the Captain's arm band, was fouled by Bobby-Joe Taylor right in front of the home team dug out. Referee David Rock awarded Woking the free kick, and their possession was maintained.

Disaster struck in the twelfth minute when a momentary defensive lapse allowed Fenelon to put in a scrappy goal, against the run of play, to give the home side the lead. The Woking physio was on the pitch straight after to check out Baxter, but he was deemed to be ok, and play continued.

Despite Aldershot seeming to take more possession, Charlie Carter played a great ball to Joe Ward, who delivered it flawlessly to Effiong, who put it straight in the back of the net to bring Woking level.

Almost as soon as play resumed, a high, late tackle by Jake Gallagher on Charlie Carter deep in the Woking half led to another Woking free kick, and Gallagher narrowly escaped a booking. Nathan Baxter played the free kick, and the following play gave Effiong yet another chance on goal, which unfortunately hit the crossbar.

The two teams seemed to have a balance of possession and control, until at twenty-one minutes Woking gave away a free kick on the edge of the box. What could have been a goal for Bobby-Joe Taylor was expertly saved by Nathan Baxter, showing the keeper's poise and control under pressure. Aldershot kept pushing at goal, but another shot on target was blocked by Wynter, rapidly followed by a spectacular double save by Baxter, parrying away the first attempt, and then holding onto the rebound shot.

Another momentary lapse allowed Fenelon past the back line to give Aldershot the lead back. The Woking fans, however, were not diminished in their enthusiasm, and were delighted to see Louis Ramsay preventing another attack on goal, and even more elated when, in the thirty-second minute Baxter pulled off another stunning save.

At forty-one minutes a foul on Chez Isaac, by George Fowler, just outside the box gave Woking their chance to equalise, and earned Fowler the first yellow of the match. After a dummy run by Nathan Ralph, Joe Ward took the free kick, and the wall did its job, deflecting the shot behind for a corner. Woking continued to push, and another shot directly into the back of the net by Kane Ferdinand, supplied perfectly by Joe Ward and Nathan Ralph, was disallowed, as the flag was raised for offside. Still pushing to the end of the second half, Nathan Ralph had a shot on target in the forty-fifth minute, which was unfortunately saved by Lewis Ward. In the two minutes of added time Aldershot took a corner, skilfully defended by Woking, and given to Joe Ward, who, despite a phenomenal run down the pitch, was unable to get on the score sheet.

Half-time: Aldershot Town 2 – 1 Woking

The rain was a heavy sheet by the time Carter kicked off the second half. Almost instantly, the referee brought out his second card of the match, a yellow for Taylor, after a foul on Louis Ramsay. The free kick didn't produce much momentum, with the play turning towards Woking's goal again. Once again, Baxter showed his prowess in the net, and pulled off another stunning save.

Woking then received two free kicks in quick succession, for successive fouls on Kane Ferdinand, by Jake Gallagher and Scott Rendell. It seemed that Aldershot's plan was to take the strength out of the Woking midfield, by force if necessary.

It seemed disaster had struck when Isaac fell victim to a vicious challenge by Jake Gallagher in the fifty-fourth minute, but the referee appeared not to notice what could easily have been an immediate red card, and Aldershot continued to push the Woking back line, whilst the Woking skipper was on the floor. After what seemed to fans like an age, Kane Ferdinand managed to get the ball out of play to allow the physio onto the pitch to see to Isaac.

The referee was then faced with a fifty-fifty decision, when there was a bit of rough play between Ralph and Fenelon, resulting in a free kick to Aldershot. Merely a minute later, however, there was no question about the foul being against Ralph, and Fenelon gave Woking a free kick. Aldershot continued with their bulldozer style of play, with a further foul on Ferdinand by Bernard Mensah.

Things took a turn for the worse when in the sixty-fourth minute, a break in the defensive line allowed Manny Oyeleke to scrape a messy ball past Baxter, to consolidate the Shots' lead. At this point, Woking brought on Fabio Saraiva, in place of Jason Banton, and Saraiva immediately integrated into play on the right wing with Joe Ward moving to the left. Woking made a second substitution a few minutes later, bringing on Jamie Philpot for Charlie Carter, changing the original formation to a 4-4-2.

Baxter then proceeded to show why, despite his young age, he is the first choice goalkeeper, saving two shots on target in as many minutes. But another Aldershot push forward ended with Jordan Wynter needing to be subbed off for Joey Jones, due to what appeared to be a thigh injury.

As the game drew to a close Woking had an amazing chance after a beautiful run by Effiong, the Aldershot defender slipped on the wet grass, but the referee called foul, and gave a free kick. Effiong kicked the ball away in disgust, but managed to avoid a yellow card for dissent.

Despite the four added minutes, and another foul on Ferdinand, Woking failed to rectify the score line, and the game ended Aldershot 3 - 1 Woking.

Woking are sure to be out to defend their honour when the Shots come to the Laithwaite Community Stadium on New Years' Day.

Woking: Nathan Baxter, Louis Ramsay, Nathan Ralph, Josh Staunton, Jordan Wynter (Joey Jones 78), Chez Isaac (C), Kane Ferdinand, Joe Ward, Jason Banton (Fabio Saraiva 65), Charlie Carter (Jamie Philpot 71), Inih Effiong.

Unused subs: JoJo Wollacott, Richard Orlu.

Goals: Inih Effiong, 14.

Bookings: None

Aldershot: Lewis Ward, Cheye Alexander, Will Evans, Shamir Fenelon (Matt McClure 73), Manny Oyeleke, Scott Rendell, Bernard Mensah (Matt Bozier 89), Jake Gallagher, George Fowler, Callum Reynolds (C), Bobby-Joe Taylor.

Unused subs: Jake Cole, Kodi Lyons-Foster.

Goals: Shamir Fenelon, 12 and 27, Oyeleke, 64.

Bookings: George Fowler, 41, and Bobby-Joe Taylor, 46.

Referee: David Rock

Attendance: 4181 (including 740 away fans)

Man of the Match: My Man of the Match today is Kane Ferdinand. His continual pushing of the ball forwards helped build the momentum for most of Woking's shots on goal, and the extent to which he was fouled indicates the threat Aldershot clearly felt he posed to them.

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