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Cards ready for the off

Phil Batts
10:27pm, Sat 4th Aug 2012
Woking 2 Aldershot Town 1
Pre-season Friendly
4th August 2012

The Cards completed their preparations for the new season with a hard-earned victory against local rivals Aldershot Town. Despite the match being a friendly, it was a competitive encounter which became more so as the match progressed, with the referee deeming it necessary to book two players from each side.

Overall, Garry Hill and Steve Thompson will be pleased with today’s performance and the squad they have assembled. Clearly, it is still a work in progress but the addition of the likes of Jack Parkinson, Brett Johnson, Lee Sawyer and Loick Pires will be seen as a positive move by the Kingfield faithful and Brett Williams and Gavin McCullum both did enough to suggest that they may feature further this season.

Woking began the game with a 4-4-2 formation, which included Brett Williams up front, making a second appearance following his debut against Hornchurch on Tuesday and Gavin McCullum, a further triallist, operating on the left side of midfield.

On a bright and blustery day, the Cards had the perfect start when after only 3 minutes they won a corner down the left-hand side. Kevin Betsy swung it in to the far post and following a scramble in the six-yard area Loick Pires smashed the ball emphatically into the roof of the net.

This early lead helped the Cards settle into a period of good possession and incisive passing, particularly down the left-hand side with Lee Sawyer, Gavin McCullum and Mike Cestor (pictured) all prominent in some impressive build-up play.

Woking increased their lead in the 24th minute after a good break from Kevin Betsy down the right flank. The resulting corner was played short by Betsy and eventually found its way into the six-yard box before being gratefully prodded home by Jack Parkinson.

Slightly against the run of play, the Shots pulled a goal back in the 28th minute. An inswinging corner from Jordan Roberts was headed into the roof of the net by Michael Rankine, despite valiant efforts by Woking defenders on the goal line.

The Shots pressed hard for an equaliser as the first half drew to a close but the Woking defence held firm.

Half-time: Woking 2 Aldershot Town 1

There were no substitutions at half-time but the Cards started slowly as the Shots picked up the pace at the beginning of the second half without creating any clear-cut chances.

Woking were fortunate to hang on to their lead in the 65th minute following a bizarre incident. A long back-pass from Lee Sawyer appeared to pose no problems for Aaron Howe but he completely missed his kick and the ball rolled slowly back behind him and hit his right-hand post. Danny Hylton, following up, could only poke his shot into the side-netting as Howe scrambled back.

As the second half progressed there were a number of substitutions which resulted in play becoming somewhat ragged and disjointed. This may have helped to contribute to a further three bookings in the second half to add to the one in the first half.

One of these might well have been viewed more seriously by the referee had the match not been a friendly. After 70 minutes Gez Sole had deftly played in newcomer Kurtis Guthrie before Doug Bergqvist, who appeared to be the last man, unceremoniously brought down the striker on the edge of the penalty area as he bore down on goal. The referee erred on the side of leniency by showing a yellow card and the ensuing free-kick was blasted into the wall by Sole before the danger was cleared.

The Woking team looked increasingly able to repel the Shots attacks as the game drew to a close and safely negotiated the final fifteen minutes without any real danger of conceding an equaliser.

This victory, against a team of full-time professionals from a higher division, can only increase the team’s confidence. One of the stars of last season, Paris Cowan-Hall, was brought into the Cards squad shortly before the start of the season and Garry and Steve may well have similar plans up their sleeve before the league kicks off. Kurtis Guthrie during his short spell on the pitch impressed as did Williams and McCullum. The big test will come of course next weekend when the Cards make the long trip to Wrexham to take on one of the Conference Premier promotion favourites in the opening league match of the season.

Woking: Aaron Howe, Adam Newton, Mike Cestor, Mark Ricketts (Dean Sinclair ’52), Jack Parkinson (Adam Doyle ’52), Brett Johnson, Loick Pires (Giuseppe Sole ’52), Lee Sawyer (Jay Davies ’67), Brett Williams (Kurtis Guthrie ’67), Gavin McCullum (Jesse Waller-Lassen ’67), Kevin Betsy (Nathan Livings ’77)

Booked: Mark Ricketts ’18, Dean Sinclair ’88

Scorers: Loick Pires ‘3, Jack Parkinson ’24

Aldershot: Jordan Clement(Luke Williams’75), Alex Rodman, Michael Rankine (Danny Hylton’56), Peter Vincenti, Guy Branston (Josh Payne’8)(Adam Mekki’56), Doug Bergqvist, Craig Stanley, Renee Connolly, Guy Madjo(Harry Cooksley’75), Jack Barton, Jordan Roberts

Booked: Doug Bergqvist ’70, Peter Vincenti’86

Scorer: Michael Rankine ‘28

MOTM: Mike Cestor - an excellent ninety minute performance - solid in defence and always dangerous going forward.

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