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Brian Caffarey - 19th March 2008

Aldershot Town 2 Woking 2 (aet) (Aldershot won 4-3 on penalties)
Setanta Shield Southern Semi-Final
18 March 2008

Woking can count themselves extremely unlucky to have suffered a fourth defeat at the hands of the Shots in this exhilarating cup tie, experiencing the heartbreak of a penalty shoot-out exit. But Frank Gray?s side can look back with pride on a wonderfully committed display in a game which provided a feast of attacking football from both teams.

Frank started with a 3-5-2/3-4-3 formation, playing Goma Lambu and Danny Bunce in the wing-back positions, whilst up front Jason Norville got the nod to partner Marvin Morgan.

The Cards threw themselves into the attack in the opening ten minutes, dominating the play. Matt Pattison in particular looked to run at the Shots defence at every opportunity. Matt Ruby?s pass provided an early chance for Matt Gray, shooting wide of the far post from just inside the box. Marvin Morgan then had three shots blocked as Woking kept up the pressure.

But it was the Shots who took the lead, in the 13th minute, against the run of play. The tricky Joel Grant picked up the ball out wide, executed a Ronaldo-type shuffle, went past two Woking defenders and shot into the near corner, although Ross Worner got a hand to it.

Five minutes later the scores were level. Goma Lambu headed a loose ball back into the ?mix?. It fell nicely for Jason Norville, who turned and fired home.

Woking went close again as Marvin Morgan swivelled in the box but could only find the side netting from an acute angle. But it was the Shots who began to look the more threatening side, ever quick on the break and increasingly finding space behind the Woking defence, which was looking very stretched. When the Shots? second goal came in the 27th minute, though, it was from a piece of individual skill some 25 yards out. Anthony Straker picked the ball up, made space for himself and unleashed a tremendous strike into the top right-hand corner, giving Ross absolutely no chance.

The Shots really ought to have doubled their lead before half-time as they sought to press home their advantage. Ross Worner made a fine left-handed save, getting down quickly to block another effort from Joel Grant. Louis Soares mis-controlled the ball, allowing Ross Worner and a defender to scramble the ball away when a goal looked certain; and Scott Donnelly placed the ball wide after it had rebounded to him when Ross had been forced into a half-clearance outside his area from a long punt upfield.

Half-time: Aldershot Town 2 Woking 1

Frank Gray switched to a 4-4-2 formation at the break, bringing Gez Sole (on in place of Goma Lambu) into the left of midfield and moving Danny Bunce back to left back. This seemed to provide a more solid platform for the Cards to regain the initiative. The Shots still looked very dangerous on the break and around the box but some excellent defending meant that Ross Worner wasn?t seriously troubled in this period. In the 53rd minute the Cards levelled the scores at 2-2. Matt Gray swung a fine ball crossfield to Matt Pattison. Accelerating past the defender, he sent in a low cross, which Marvin Morgan, making a near post run, fired home.

Woking continued to carve out more goal attempts, with decent efforts from Marvin Morgan, Matt Gray (from a quick free-kick) and Tom Hutchinson, who got forward frequently at this stage. The team?s commitment was personified by some splendid tackling back by Marvin Morgan. With Damian Batt having already replaced Matt Ruby at right back, Frank Gray threw on Liam Marum for Jason Norville with some fifteen minutes to go.

Dave Winfield went close for the Shots with a header before Woking had several excellent chances just before the 90 minutes were up. Liam Marum rounded the keeper but his shot was cleared off the line. Matt Gray?s flicked header was well saved and then Marvin Morgan led a charge up field but shot weakly at the keeper with two colleagues well placed.

Full-time: Aldershot Town 2 Woking 2

In the first period of extra time the Shots seemed to step up a gear again whilst the Cards seemed to tire. Junior Mendes had the best chance for the hosts, dinking the ball just past the far post after being slipped through. Woking bounced back in the second period of extra time. Liam Marum made space for himself on the right of the area, with the Shots keeper, Jaimez-Ruiz, doing well to stick out a leg to prevent Liam?s crisp shot finding the target. And so to penalties (starting at 10.25pm!)

Aldershot opened and the first seven strikes were all converted, with Donnelly, Davies, Hudson and Newman successful for the Shots, and Matt Gray, Gez Sole and Liam Marum replying for the Cards. At 4-3 to the Shots Damian Batt stepped up but placed the ball too near the Shots keeper. Joel Grant only had to convert to win the tie but his very casual chip was easily saved by Ross Worner. So it fell to Matt Pattison, who?d given everything in the cause, to keep the Cards in the tie. Unfortunately, he ballooned his effort way over the bar.

So, the Cards have had to endure another bitterly disappointing cup exit at the hands of the Shots. But it was a terrific all-round team effort, with particularly fine contributions from Matt Pattison, Matt Gray, Marvin Morgan and Tom Hutchinson. For the neutral spectator, this game must have been a dream, with some fantastic end-to-end play for over 120 minutes. Let?s hope that the team has got something left in the tank for the Easter weekend fixtures.

Woking: Ross Worner, Matt Ruby (Damian Batt), Tom Hutchinson, Jay Gasson; Goma Lambu (Giuseppe Sole), Matt Pattison, Bradley Quamina, Matt Gray, Danny Bunce; Jason Norville (Liam Marum), Marvin Morgan

Subs not used: Nick Gindre, Adam Green

Attendance: 1629

My MOTM: Matt Pattison (pictured), in spite of the penalty miss: a swashbuckling performance, full of energy, commitment and enterprise.

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