WOKING were shot down by local rivals Aldershot at Kingfield on Sunday.
James Clarke continued to deputise for the injured Mike Cestor in the centre of a Cards defence which has now conceded goals early in its last three outings.
Unfortunately for Cards fans, the early thoughts are that Cestor – who in turn deputised for injured captain Mark Ricketts – has suffered a similar knee ligament injury to his skipper, sustained during the recent 2-1 home loss to Southport.
Depending on the results of an upcoming scan, it is feared that the in-form stopper may not pull his boots on again this season.
As with that Southport set-back, where they shipped two goals from free kicks, Woking again looked vulnerable to set pieces.
Shots boss Andy Scott had clearly found time to do his homework over the holidays, as the Shots effectively sealed the game after just half an hour’s play, courtesy of a long-throw routine involving Sam Hatton and, inevitably, Brett Williams – the former Card scoring yet again back at his old stomping ground, as he had done back in April.
Indeed, Williams’ prolonged celebration seemed to be as much for the baying Cards fans in the Kingfield Road End as for those Shots fans stood on the corner of the Chris Lane Terrace – who have now tasted victory on their last three visits across the Surrey-Hampshire border.
No matter the bravado on the terraces, Shots fans know that these signify three precious points for a beleaguered Aldershot camp after a winless month.
Boss Scott admitted as much afterwards when he said: “It’s a relief to win any game of football at the moment.”
While the match day sponsors had the unenviable task of naming a man of the match among a wrath of under-par performances for the home side, a number of Scott’s side put in a solid shift for their under-fire boss: chief among them the midfield workhorses of Manny Oyeleke, Kieran Forbes and scorer of the opening goal; Andre McCollin.
The battling trio embodied the visitors’ up and at ’em approach to the game, playing at an intensity which the home side just couldn’t match on the day. The identity of the opening scorer was open to some debate after striker Dan Holman stooped to attack McCollin’s cross from the left.
However, the ball appeared to simply evade everybody in the Woking box, leaving wrong-footed Cards’ keeper Ross Worner to merely watch as the ball trickled agonisingly into the bottom corner of his net for an early opener after eight minutes.
Among a plethora of fatigued performance, it was a day to forget for Joey Jones, who looked off the pace from the start. Boss Garry Hill hauled off his normally dependable defender after just 25 minutes.
Alongside an extremely pedestrian start to the game, Hill seemingly took umbrage to a second foul throw of the game from Jones.
“I think we had too many players who couldn’t rise to the occasion,” said Hill post-game. “I’m afraid today it seemed too much for certain players in the team; that’s why we made a substitution very early on.”
Speaking of a wretched run that has seen his side bank just four points from their last 18 available, Hill said it was hard to pinpoint the exact route cause.
“We are a team that’s lost our way. I don’t know whether it’s too much to handle for players, too much pressure or expectation, I don’t know,” said Hill.
“When you miss the likes of Mark Ricketts, Scott Rendell, Mike Cestor; they are big players (to lose) but all clubs get injuries.
“We were punching above our weight but we’ve lost our way of late. We have had a very good opening 27 games of the season but we’ve got to make sure that we hang in there.”
Jack Marriott did tee up a grandstand finish, but his 88th-minute strike proved only a consolation as Woking slumped to a fourth defeat in five league games.