Woking travel to local rivals Aldershot on Tuesday in good form and looking to reclaim bragging rights from last season’s disappointing derby day defeats.
The Cards visit The Rec with three wins in their last three including impressive performances against Dover, Wrexham and Lincoln. The Shot, on the other hand come into the game off of the back of a narrow 1-0 defeat to Halifax but remain unbeaten at home during this campaign.
We talked to Aldershot Town reporters Lewis and Tommy to find out what we can expect when we travel to our rivals on Tuesday.
Q) After the long, hard battle to stay in the league last season, it must have been nice to keep hold of a few keys players and to have made a good start to the season with only two narrow 1-0 defeats?
L:The season so far has been good, we’ve been a bit unlucky in a game or two but it could have been a better start in all honesty. It’s nice to keep hold of the core from last season especially players like Brett Williams and a few others who were key for us. We lost quite a few games away from home 1-0 last season – Salisbury, Southport, Welling, Tamworth, Braintree and Luton. And then Eastleigh and Halifax this season. It only shows that away from home we don’t go all out for a win and we’re happy to be conservative and hold for the point. I think many of us would rather see us losing say 3-2 then a narrow 1-0. It was nice to start on a clean slate, you don’t have to worry about relegation and being near the bottom for the entire season – I think the first game of this season (3-1 v Altrincham) saw us be outside the bottom six of the table since September 2012.
T: It certainly is! There was a time last season when even I who was always very confident started having doubts about our survival chances after the performances up at Tamworth and Braintree, but we came through it and hopefully the better times are ahead. Keeping hold of a core of key players such as Chris Barker, Mark Molesley and Brett Williams was brilliant news for all Aldershot fans, not only for the fact that they were our most consistent performers last year but for the sheer fact that they are players you can build a team around and with the additions of Captain Glenn Wilson, Damon Lathorpe, Phil Smith and Dan Fitchett along with a positive start there seems to be bit more belief and hope that Aldershot can perhaps spring a surprise or two this season.
Q) What has changed at The Rec over the summer in terms of players coming and going?
L: We’ve got rid of a few players, a couple who simply weren’t up to it. Captain Craig Stanley and goalkeeper Glenn Morris are the two key departures. Matt Paterson, Bradley Bubb, Adam Mekki, Martin Rowlands and Luke Williams have also all left. Andy Scott has brought in some excellent players, a certain improvement on what we had last season. Glenn Wilson and Dan Fitchett have come in from Salisbury; WIlson has been in this league for years, he’s won it with Crawley and is our captain this season. Fitchett scored 16 goals last season and he can become a real asset to us, he’s been superb so far. In midfield we’ve added Damon Lathrope from Torquay United, Kieron Forbes on loan from Forest Green and Sam Hatton from Grimsby. They all have something different about them, but in Lathrope I truly believe we have one of the league’s best midfielders and he doesn’t get the credit he deserves. Lathrope and Forbes have built a steady partnership and it is a midfield we’ve been wanting for years. We replaced Glenn Morris with Phil Smith, a brilliant goalkeeper at this level. We’ve brought in a few back-up players such as Naby Diallo from Weston, Tom Derry from Gillingham and Dan Thomas from Poole Town. Diallo and Derry are young and hungry players, they’ll be good impact subs but no more than that I’d expect. We’ve also got Joesph N’Guessan on loan from Stevenage, he brings us pace and tenacity on the wings, he can become a real game changer. He’s had mixed reviews so far but he’s done very well.
T: For starters we have kept our key core and added in a number of good additions that have excelled at their previous clubs in this division. More importantly, we now have a group of players who I believe are mentally stronger than what we had last year because at times last year we were weak and rolled over whereas the calibre of players brought in this season are certainly more consistent in their performances and that’s a testament to Andy Scott because we have to remember he was new to the league last year and didn’t really have sufficient time to prepare and put together a squad because of all the financial problems, but this summer it was a 180% turn! The preparations for this year started immediately and the majority of the players on his original list are in the squad now so big changes and positive one’s going forward in my view.
Q) Woking will know all about Brett Williams, but who else will they have to watch out for on Tuesday?
L: The spine of our side is key, I feel. Phil Smith in goal can always be relied on, he’ll keep you in the game. Against Forest Green he made three outstanding saves to keep it at 1-1. In defence, Glenn Wilson is your classic no nonsense centre back. He’s strong and he’s a leader. Onto midfield with Damon Lathrope, who does all the dirty work and can pick out passes anywhere across the pitch – his partnership with Forbes is key. Contain them and you can bring the game to us. Next to Brett Williams will be Josh Scott or Dan Fitchett who both bring something different to the table. Scott is strong while Fitchett has got pace. They’ll both cause problems. He hasn’t been a shade on what he was last season but that may be down to injury, if fit then Mark Molesley can be our talisman.
T: There are three players in my mind (if fit and available) that will cause Woking problems and they are Mark Molesley who can create something out of nothing, he also has bags of energy which can go a long way in games like this where they are most likely to be tight. Dan Fitchett is another player who will be a handful because he is sharp, quick and very good with the ball at his feet and once he adds a few goals to his name is going to be a very good addition to the squad. Finally, I am going to say Jordan Roberts, last season Jordan came under plenty of criticism from many Shots fans who perhaps thought he would never fulfil his potential, but this season Jordan has been outstanding and arguably put in his best performance ever in an Aldershot Town shirt in our last home game with Grimsby Town, not the finished article yet with still things to work on and improve, but if he keeps putting in the consistent performances he has to date, then I think Jordan could flourish and really grow this season.
Q) Do you think ex-Shots players such as Morgan, Beckles and Payne will get a warm reception back to The Rec?
L: I’m not so sure. Dean Morgan was brilliant for us, he really was instrumental in getting us to the League Two play-off’s while he was here. I’d expect him to get a good reception but as he plays for Woking, I don’t think he will. Josh Payne’s departure was on a sour note, he got some stick at Kingfield last season so he probably will again. Reece Beckles was only a youth player for us so not many will have seen him.
T: I hope so, despite playing for Woking, all three of those players mentioned have played a part in what we have achieved as a club. In particular Dean Morgan whose performances in our run to the League Two play-offs in 2010 were superb! Dean deserves a standing ovation alone for the outstanding goal he scored in the dying minutes away to Cheltenham Town in a 2-1 win, which all but secured us a place in the play-offs. Josh Payne was a player who certainly had plenty of potential and his performances caught the eye of many higher division scouts before his off field antics cost him his place in the team and days later, he was released which was a shame because given time, he could have transformed into a very good player for Aldershot Town. Reece Beckles is another player who has potential and played a huge part in our Youth Team’s excellent cup run in 2012 under the guidance of Terry Boyle, which saw us just edged out by West Ham in the third round. With the part they all played, I would be very surprised to see any of them given a negative reception from the Shots faithful.
What is your score prediction?
L: They’ll be goals I think. Aldershot 2-2 Woking.
T: This is a game I am really looking forward to and believe it’s going to be a cracker with both sides getting the ball down and playing it on the deck. Woking will feel this is perhaps their best chance in years to beat Aldershot with their league standing and recent form and Aldershot’s home form is very good, so it’s got all the ingredients to be a good ‘un!!
There will be a decent crowd which I believe will play a part and if you look at Aldershot’s recent record over Woking, I have to favourite Aldershot for this one and am going for a 2-1 win with Brett Williams scoring a 90th minute penalty!
Picture by David Holmes. A full set can be found at wokingfc.co.uk