By Jacob Greenwood
Woking head into their Christmas fixtures desperately looking to turn around a rotten run of form. However, with a double-header against local rivals Aldershot Town on the cards, it will be far from straight forward. The Cards have not beaten The Shots in a league fixture since January 2016 and since then Aldershot have won 7 consecutive league derbies against Woking.
Since reforming in 1992, Aldershot Town have had the edge over Woking in derby fixtures with Aldershot Town having won 17 times, Woking 7 times and 6 draws.
Alan Dowson will be hoping to pull off a repeat of his side’s FA Cup victory in 2020 at The Rec, but with Aldershot resurgent under Mark Molesley (who has form in these derbies as a player), The Cards will be hoping the form book really does go out the window.
We spoke to Aldershot Town fan Rhys Emberson to find out what is going on behind enemy lines, how former Cards are getting on and to see how confident Shots fans are heading into the games.
It’s been a mixed season for The Shots so far, but they have certainly found form under Mark Molesley. His reign didn’t get off to the best start, but are we now seeing the potential he has as a manager?
It’s been mixed bag, which seems to be a running theme for the past few seasons. Since the 5-0 defeat to Wrexham Mark has really turned the fortunes of the club around. As a manager before coming to Aldershot he won back to back promotions with Weymouth, which earned him a job in the Football League so the potential has always been there. He came home as a hero having scored three of our most iconic goals in the past 10 years. (One of which of course sealed survival at Kingfield) but the potential is certainly shining through.
What key differences has Mark made since replacing Danny Searle?
Mark was always a man the fans wanted to manage the club. You can tell that on the terraces. Coming back with a middle man between the squad and the board (Terry Brown Aldershot Town manager 2002-2007) he’s not come alone. Both him and Terry know the league and know what players they were after. Whereas Danny talked a big game about contacts, Mark has backed it up and brought in players through his contacts. He’s changed the shape of the team which has also helped. The belief amongst the fans and the squad seems to be back.
What were your ambitions for Aldershot this season and how have they changed in the first half of the season, if at all?
Given the recruitment I was expecting us to come bottom three and the first few months it was looking that way. This season the ambition isn’t much more than consolidation. An FA Trophy run would be nice though. I believe we should consolidate our place in the National League and build from there over the close season with a squad ready to compete at the top end of the table.
Jay Harris and Toby Edser are two notable ex-Cards, how have they performed this season?
I’ve not seen much of Jay Harris but he’s recently returned from a spell on loan at Hampton, he’s not looking too bad since then and Edser has spent a lot of time on the sidelines this season through injury. However, last season he looked great partnering Rees in the midfield.
Turning towards the derby double-header, Aldershot have won their last seven games against Woking, what do you think makes The Shots so dominant in these games?
Over the years we’ve not lost many in the derby and as an Aldershot fan I can’t say we don’t love the one way traffic. Recently we’ve had players who really understand the derby and what it means to the fans. Jake Gallagher, Lewis Kinsella, Scott Rendell (sorry) and Mark Molesley just to name a few. I think the support spurs the players on and the players love the roar of the East Bank on derby day. It could well be the psychological advantage. I won’t lie we love being your bogey side.
With that record in mind, and the current form of both clubs, you must be confident going into the festive period?
Well when it comes to a derby form is completely out the window as shown in 2014/15 when the only win we had in about 11/12 games came at your place over the Christmas period. I’m never confident until we stick one in the back of the net. The more the record goes on the more we don’t want to lose it. Form has turned at the right time however, I just hope we can keep it going.
Where can you see these games being won and lost in this season’s derbies?
These games will be won in the midfield like they normally are. Last season Anderson proved dividends and bossed the midfield in both games. Not too happy seeing him on the other side this season. I just hope we’ll have enough to secure six points over the festive period. I think defensively we have a way to go, but hope to say we’re on the way to sorting our flaws out at the back.
What are your score predictions?
Going to go with some usual scores in this fixture. Score predictions for both games:
Aldershot 3-1 Woking
Woking 1-2 Aldershot
Thanks to Rhys for his time and fingers crossed fans will be allowed at both fixtures at this difficult time during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pictures by David Holmes. A full set can be found at wokingfc.co.uk