Aldershot & Farnham (A&F) head coach Ian Jennings was happy with his side’s performance despite falling to a 2-0 defeat at local rivals Woking in the South East Men’s Premier Division.
The result means the Shots have suffered two defeats on the trot with no goals scored, but Jennings saw plenty of positives from his side.
“Despite losing both games, I’ve been happy with the way we have played – but the area of concern is not being able to get the ball over the line,” said Jennings. “Even our normally reliable short corner routine is proving fruitless and it’s definitely cost us six points in the past two games.”
The game against Woking was played under floodlights in front of a boisterous home crowd, but Jennings failed to use that as an excuse.
“I gave a very direct team talk which basically set out a script of what I thought was going to happen and how we could avoid falling into the trap of getting unnecessarily involved in things that we didn’t need to,” said Jennings.
“Unfortunately, despite me normally being right in my predictions and tactics this was one time I was hoping I’d be proved wrong – but sadly not.”
The pitch became slippy because of the frost setting in, and Jennings felt the conditions weren’t safe for the players.
“I brought it to the attention of the umpire closest to me with 25 minutes to go that the conditions were now becoming extremely dangerous for both sides with players not being able to stay on their feet attacking and defending and that it was going to lead to someone getting injured,” said Jennings.
“Being told I only wanted to stop the game because we were losing was quite frankly the most bizarre reply I could have been given.
“Despite some very near misses where players’ bodies were falling into the tackle, I was relieved when the final whistle went and no one had got seriously hurt.
“This was a very definite case of a lack of duty of care, and had it been training I would have stopped at the time I made the comment.
“Despite all of that, we still did more than enough to win.”
A&F travelled to face local rivals Woking in a late start last Saturday evening (November 25). A&F just pipped Woking to fourth spot last season, but Woking had started the season well and sat in third place at the start of the day – four points ahead of A&F.
In the early-evening gloom, it was Woking who started the brightest of the two teams.
A&F were a bit sloppy early on and gave away a few poor turnovers.
Woking were sharp on the visitors’ errors and the pressure on A&F was mounting.
A long aerial over the top from Woking caught out Kevin McCafferty, who failed to trap the ball. A&F scrambled back well and the defence dealt with the initial break, however a cheap turnover inside their own D left the Woking forward with time and space – which he used to find the bottom corner and give Woking an early lead.
Going a goal down seemed to wake up A&F, who were starting to play their recognisable patterns more frequently. Woking were still dangerous, however, and would have doubled their lead were it not for Tom Lawson – in for the unavailable Hamish Hall in goal – who made a smart stop, sliding at the feet of the attacker to keep it 1-0.
From that point up until half-time, A&F had the majority of territory and possession.
The Shots were able to transfer the ball high up the pitch and exploit the resulting gaps around the sides and along the baseline. Stu Morhall found joy down the right-hand side and delivered into the D on multiple occasions, only for the chances to go begging as a result of poor decision making from the A&F forward line. A&F had a handful of penalty corners during this period but the usually reliable duo of Scott Perry and Jamie Weston were unable to convert through a combination of poor injecting and strong Woking penalty corner defence.
Despite all of the pressure, the first half ended with Woking 1-0 up. However, the home side were beginning to show signs of buckling under the pressure A&F were exerting.
Knowing more chances would come in the second half, A&F continued to stick to their patterns. At times they flowed through the Woking rearguard, but the goal still eluded them. Ten minutes into the second half, the pitch appeared to start freezing. The umpires gathered the captains after another slip, but after their conversation the game continued.
As has been the case on a number of occasions, A&F paid the price for their wastefulness in front of goal. Woking were still working good positions from counter attacks – forcing Lawson into another couple of saves. However, it was from a penalty corner that Woking doubled their lead. The short injection was slapped straight into the goal through the A&F penalty corner defence and A&F were left with a mountain to climb.
Further slips on the increasingly icy surface hampered both sides. Through no fault of their own, players were unable to keep their feet as they set themselves for tackles – which was leading to more fouls and disrupting the flow of the game. Frustrations then got the better of Perry, who was yellow carded for a misjudged tackle.
A late flurry of penalty corners for A&F – mostly coming from slips from the Woking defence – couldn’t break their current goal drought as the opposition goalkeeper maintained the Woking clean sheet. Woking then ran out the clock in the A&F corner to win the game 2-0.