A goal from John Grant gave Aldershot the opportunity to take their
Conference South opponents to an FA Cup second round replay at The
Camrose on Tuesday December 12th after a laboured performance at the
Rec with a truly disappointing opening half peppered by the influence
of the senior players to carve something out of the match after the
break and, indeed, the replay against Francis Vines' side who have
already disposed of Chesterfield in the competition this season.
The replay will be an interesting affair. Although bottom of the
Conference South 'stoke have not lost a senior match since September
although they have not won a league fixture this season at The Camrose.
The absence of striker Marcus Gayle proved a major loss for the home
side with manager Terry Brown facing a dilemma. With the absence of
Mark Pritchard (injured), Joel Grant (on international duty with
Jamaica) and Kirk Hudson (cup tied) only John Grant was available from
the normal selection and youngster Danny Hylton was on the substitutes
The visitors started confidently and Nikki Bull was forced into a fine
save as early as the third minute when the home side, as they did
frequently in the first half, gave the ball away too cheaply in the
middle of the park. The home keeper dived full stretch to his left to
deflect Justyn McKay's overhead kick around the post.
Within a minute Bull gathered a McKay free kick safely from 20 yards.
Attacking prescence was a rare commodity in the first half for the home
side although Rhys Day's powerful header from Ryan Williams' corner on
14 minutes was somehow cleared off the line.
Aldershot could not keep hold of the ball and some players looked
Matthew Warner was winning his battles down the left hand side and sped
past Dean Smith with ease on 24 minutes before delivering a tricky
centre into the box only for Day to force behind under pressure for a
On 33 minutes Warner, the hero of Saltergate, did exactly the same and
unleashed a left footed shot that was expertly parried away by Bull at
the near post.
Even the ever reliable Darren Barnard was unable to force the issue
with a late free kick in the first half. In his usual strike zone of 20
yards his effort sailed over the wall but lacked power as it was
recovered with ease by former Shots keeper Stuart Searle.
The half was heading for stalemate in injury time until a delivery from
the right hand side was touched across the six yard box into the path
of Joe Bruce who hooked a shot into the top far corner of the net to
the delight of the visiting fans packed into the East Bank.
In truth the home performance had to improve after the interval and,
indeed, it did.
WIth Louie Soares becoming more of a menace Terry Brown's side started
to use the width with more effect.
On 49 minutes Barnard's delivery into the box was met by Soares whose
close range effort was cleared off the line into the path of Grant who
saw his strike blocked.
Although they enjoyed greater possession Shots had to work hard to
Williams also looked dangerous down the left hand side. His centre on
67 minutes was met by Day and Grant simultaneously and Searle produced
a fine stop to save on the line.
Day was becoming a real threat from set pieces and the closest he came
was on 76 minutes when Barnards's corner was thundered goal bound by
the head of Day but Searle produced a stunning point blank save.
Within a minute they did get the goal that their second half endeavours
deserved. Barnard again was involved in the build up and his inswinging
centre from his left foot was met by the alert Grant who buried his
effort into the corner of the net.
It was all a bit of cat and mouse after that. Home keeper Bull was not
troubled in the second half and with the visitors desperate to protect
the score line Shots rarely looked like adding a late goal that would
have set the Recreation Ground alight.
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