WOKING v ALDERSHOT TOWN
12:00am, Mon 24th Dec 2007
WOKING v ALDERSHOT TOWN
12 noon on Wednesday 26 December 2007 (NB Kick-off time!)
You know you?ll be desperate to get out of the house and escape the ?rellies? for a few hours, so why not head down to Kingfield for this Boxing Day treat? Remember, though, that it is a 12 noon kick-off! This should be an intriguing, exciting, passionate encounter, with the confident, table-topping Shots, full of goals, coming up against an in-form Woking side, with one of the best defences in the league. If the history of Woking/Aldershot encounters is anything to go by, we can certainly be sure of an incident-packed game. Get here early to avoid congestion at the turnstiles!
Saturday?s 2-1 win over Stevenage Borough in the Setanta Shield was the Cards? fifth win in a row, in the course of which they have conceded only the injury-time consolation goal from Boro. The Cards will know, though, that the rampant Shots? side will provide a much stiffer test than those which they have had to face recently. Woking will have to do without the reliable Matt Ruby, injured on Saturday, in defence but, with Paul Lorraine back, and Jay Gasson rested on Saturday (to avoid the risk of a fifth booking), Frank Gray will be able to field a familiar back four of Lorraine, Hutchinson, Gasson and Bunce. A hopeful sign on Saturday was the form of Liam Marum who, having missed the start of the season with injury, is now beginning to look a real threat up front. With Marvin Morgan back from his three match suspension, and Giuseppe Sole showing good form, the hope is that the Cards can now add some firepower to their defensive solidity and ask a few question of the Shots? defence. They will be looking too to the marauding Matt Pattison and the scheming Kevin James to provide offensive support from midfield.
THE SHOTS SQUAD
Gary Waddock, who succeeded Terry Brown in the summer as the Shots? manager, is another believer in ?younger, hungrier players? and wasted little time in bringing in some talented youngsters who have quickly shown their potential. This strategy lay behind the decision too to release former captain Darren Barnard (at least we won?t have to suffer from his free kicks this campaign!), midfielder David Lee and Dons? legend Marcus Gayle, who was swiftly snapped up by Terry Brown at his new haunt, AFC Wimbledon. An unwanted departure was that of talented midfielder Mark Molesley, who decided to join Stevenage Borough.
An early signing was that of Anthony Straker, a former England U18 full back from Crystal Palace. He 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: Joel has recently signed a permanent contract. A more experienced arrival was that of defender Rob Gier, who of course had a brief spell at Kingfield last season. Other signings include reserve keeper, Venezuelan Mikhael Jaimez-Ruiz. A recent addition is 6?5? defender Nathan Koo-Boothe, who was with Kettering last season but who, like Joel Grant, is a graduate of Watford?s Academy and a Jamaican U21 international.
Key players remaining from last season include the forward pair of John Grant, top scorer, and Jonny Dixon, whilst Rob Newman provides some experience in defence to complement Dave Winfield and captain Rhys Day. Nikki Bull (the subject of unpleasant barracking in previous seasons by some mindless Woking fans) has been in fine form in goal. The Shots have had to do without winger Ryan Williams, though, who is recovering from an operation and, like Ryan Scott, is not expected to figure this season.
SEASON SO FAR
Not even the most optimistic Shots fan had expected Gary Waddock?s new side to achieve such instant success. Things started brightly on the opening day with a 2-1 away win at Kidderminster. There were already signs of the Shots? new-found resilience and an ability to garner points even against the run of play ? traits which have become more pronounced as the season has progressed. Rather reminds you of Dagenham and Redbridge last season, doesn?t it? But the Shots had a rude homecoming in their second fixture, crashing 3-0 at the Rec to Torquay United. Nonetheless, they recovered to go on a fantastic run, being beaten only once (at home to Crawley 1-0) in their next 11 games, including fine wins away at Forest Green Rovers and Oxford United. Stevenage Borough, in early October, were the third club to lower the Shots? colours, gaining a 3-1 win at Broadhall Way, followed a week later by Burton Albion, who gained a 2-0 win at the Pirelli Stadium. The only other defeat for the Shots has been at Cambridge United in the First Round of the FA Cup. They have won their last five league games in a row. Their home record reads: won 10, drawn 0, lost 2, whilst their away record reads won 7, drawn 1, lost 2. The Shots have netted 48 goals, compared with Woking?s 22 but have conceded 27, two more than the Cards.
In the FA Trophy the Shots made short work of Conference South side Hayes and Yeading, notching up a 5-0 win on the road, with goals from Scott Davies, John Grant, Jonny Dixon (2) and Kirk Hudson. The Cards entertain the Shots in the next round on Saturday 12 February. In the Setanta Shield on Saturday Aldershot overcame Oxford United 1-0, the winner coming from Kirk Hudson, and now travel to St Albans in the next round.
Aldershot Town 2 Woking 1
Woking 2 Aldershot Town 2
Woking 1 Aldershot Town 2
Aldershot Town 4 Woking 0
Woking 1 Aldershot Town 2
Aldershot Town 1 Woking 1
Woking 2 Aldershot Town 0
Aldershot Town 2 Woking 2
We hadn?t had the best of results against our near neighbours following their arrival in the Conference, so it was nice last year to grab four out of six points, including 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 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.
Come on, you Cards!
P.S. Don?t forget the return encounter at the Rec at 3pm on New Year?s Day!