By Jacob Greenwood
Woking welcome local rivals Aldershot Town to Kingfield on Monday as The Cards push for a top ten finish.
The home side will be looking to restore some local pride after losing 2-1 in the reverse fixture at the start of the season. Woking will be without captain Mark Ricketts who was sent off during their 2-2 draw at Forest Green Rovers on Saturday.
Monday’s visitors took a big step towards securing their Conference place for next season with a win against Sailsbury on Friday. We got the latest from The Recreation Ground from Shots reporter Tommy Anderson.
How important a rivalry do Aldershot fans rank Woking?
Very importantly! I think this year’s rivalry is a little bit different to other year’s simply for the fact that until August we hadn’t played against each other for over five years, so it has definitely taken a while for the banter and views amongst both sets of fans to come out. But now Monday is edging ever nearer the messagboards are filled with opposing fans views which is fun and at times painful to read. Of course Woking are a big rival to Aldershot because we are only 11 miles apart, and also if you look back to the years from 2003 to around 2008 the attendances generated always exceed over 3,600+ with two Sky Sports showings of the games. Not to forget one of the last meetings being shown on Setanta Sports for the Setanta Shield when we played the Semi-Final at Aldershot, which was a thoroughly entertaining game which ended in a 4-3 penalty win for the Shots!
Aldershot have been in a fiercely fought relegation battle this season after starting the season on minus ten. A win at Alfreton and a draw at Macclesfield have massively helped your chances of staying up, haven’t they?
They certainly have! The run of form we were on going into those fixtures was very worrying to say the least and without doubt relegation form after away defeats to Tamworth and Braintree and a home defeat to Gateshead. We did manage to beat Hyde four days after losing to Gateshead albeit with our heart strings pulling in the final minutes of the match. No disrespect to Hyde but if we didn’t win at home to them then we could almost certainly have written ourselves off because at that point it just can’t get any lower but even after that win you look at the fixtures coming up and you see Luton, Alfreton and Macclesfield all away from home and your thinking ‘oh dear!Thing’s could get quite difficult here if we don’t pick up some points’ Dartford and Chester were both picking up the odd win here and there and ourselves and Hereford were not.
However, to be fair to our lads they put in a terrific battling performance at Luton and deserved a point at least, you sit there thinking at that moment this could really damage the mental strength of the players going into Alfreton simply for the fact they played so well for 86 minutes and then concede a sloppy goal but it was completely the opposite. Our start away at Alfreton was terrific and being 2-0 up after 16 minutes I am standing there thinking surely this is a dream!! But then to go on and win 4-1 against a team whose home record was very good was a great feat from the players and then of course last Saturday at Macclesfield to nick a vital point in the 95th minute was huge, not only for the fact we didn’t lose but also for the fact that we are now out of the bottom four and physiologically that can change everything and I really hope it does.
If Aldershot do survive this season where do you think they will aim to finish next season? Are the fans happy with just surviving?
IF we manage to beat the drop this season, I think the goal for next season will be to consolidate in the division, although that’s not to say we don’t have an aim to reach the play-off places because you have to show some kind of ambition if you want to bring the crowds in.
I am sure that Andy Scott and the players at the club will all tell you that they ultimately want to achieve promotion but if we can build on this season and go one better in terms of our league position next season then I am sure the fans will be happy. In answer to your other question, no, the majority of supporters won’t just be happy to survive and they will want to see a steady improvement of the team year on year and if that happens that the majority will be satisfied but I think a club the size of Aldershot in this division and with the budget allocated, I would like to think that our aim is to do more than survive and I am sure it will be.
Brett Williams has been one of your key players this season. Both him and Bradley Bubb were at Woking last season, how have they performed together this season?
Brett Williams has been a breath of fresh air this season in terms of the number of goals he has scored because we have not had a striker who has accumulated that number of goals for Aldershot for a very long time! If there is one criticism that myself and other Aldershot fans will have of Brett is that at time he can become quite lazy and give up on loose balls instead of trying his utmost to try and retrieve the ball to carry on an attack. He really has surprised many including myself because when you look at his past, he has never really been known as a goalscorer but he does seem to have found his feet at Aldershot and that has shown with the goals scored.
The re-signing of Bradley Bubb was very well received by supporters back in January. There was a lot of frustration and anger by many supporters at the aftermath of his departure for the simple fact we never really got to see the best of Bradley because quite simply he was never given a chance to prove himself by the then manager Dean Holdsworth. This didn’t surprise me at all after witnessing the way Holdsworth treated certain other players at the club during his tenure. Another reason many Shots fans were so unhappy that Bradley had been shipped out on loan was when we were at the bottom of League Two struggling for goals it appeared he was banging them in left, right and centre for Woking which left a real sour taste in the mouth!!
But in regards to this season he started off well when we re-signed him in January but has since picked up a few knocks and niggles which has resulted in his form dipping. One thing you can be sure with Bradley is the fact that he is always poaching for goals and is a real danger in the opposing penalty box.
Who else will Woking have to look out for on Monday?
There are two players that come to mind. One is winger Adam Mekki who is now starting to show some real promise once again after going a bit cold for 6 months or so but after a return from injury he is now showing some consistency and will certainly give any right back a torrid time when he is playing at his best. The other player for me who is shining is Manny Oyeleke. Manny is another player who is currently now on his second loan spell at the club and what a coup that was by Andy Scott in bringing Manny back. A terrific box-to-box midfielder who has bags of energy and pace and also has an eye for a goal from a mazy run out of nowhere so be warned Woking!!
Finally, what is your score prediction?
This is going to be a very tough game indeed but one I am really looking forward to because Woking are clearly a totally different side to the one that came to the EBB back in August. They have strengthened well with the additions of Scott Rendell and Jack Marriott (who as I am writing these notes has been recalled by Ipswich which is most definitely a positive for Aldershot!) and of course you have experienced players such as Kevin Betsy and Giuseppe Sole who are threats.
You also have a player who Shots fans are very familiar with in Josh Payne ,who of course used to play for us before his antics off the field put pay to that. It all adds to the spice of what is going to be a great occasion!
I think it will be a very close game with a cautious approach taken by both sides in the first half, the first goal scored will up the tempo, therefore regarding a prediction my head tells me it will be a 1-1 but my heart tells me the Shots will nick it 2-1. So my prediction is a 2-1 Aldershot win!
Photo by David Holmes. A full set can be viewed at wokingfc.co.uk