An early Josh Stokes goal wasn’t enough for Aldershot, as National League leaders Chesterfield proved too good for the Shots in a 4-1 defeat for Hugo Langton’s side at the SMH Group Stadium.
The Shots would make their trip to the National League leaders without a number of key names, and Tommy Widdrington amongst them feeling under the weather. Hugo Langton took to the dugout, and into the XI came Jack Barham and Tommy Willard, as club captain Stuart O’Keefe dropped to the bench, and Lorent Tolaj was absent from the squad that travelled to the SMH Group Stadium.
A seven goal thriller earlier in the season provided an exciting prospect at the SMH Group Stadium as the National League’s best and fifth best attacks faced off, and fans had their money’s worth of goals five minutes in. Josh Stokes opened the scoring early with a left footed finish from a Haji Mngoa cross that wasn’t dealt with by the Spireites defence, before Stokes himself fouled Colclough in a dangerous area outside the Shots box. Darren Oldaker stepped up for Chesterfield and from his perfectly placed free kick had the game at 1-1 five minutes in.
Having lost only once since September the Spireites were bound to be full of quality, and the visitng Shots were under a lot of pressure in the opening 45. Will Grigg and Armando Dobra had good chances to put Chesterfield in the lead, however the game wasn’t allowed to flow as much as either side may have liked due to danger man Ryan Colclough being dragged down a number of times in the half by Haji Mnoga and Coby Rowe, both went into the interval on yellows.
Despite having the better of the Shots for much of the half it was Chesterfield who would have been happier to hear the referee’s whistle after a strong end to the half by Aldershot. Coby Rowe had an effort flying towards the top corner headed out for a corner kick as the clock ticked 45, and Josh Stokes almost had a second as he sat down a Spireites defender down and saw his eventual effort blocked
HALF TIME: Chesterfield 1-1 Shots
Chesterfield continued their pressure in the opening five minutes, and somehow Will Grigg didn’t have the Spireites ahead 53 minutes in. Michael Jacobs did some fantastic work to weave a way in behind the Shots back line, and Grigg looked set to score his 12th National League goal of the season, but from close range poked an effort wide.
The highlights for the Shots in the second half came at 1-1, as Jack Barham had an effort deflected wide from close range which could have easily ended up in the back of Harry Tyrer’s net, and at the other end Jordi Van Stappershoef denied Michael Jacobs well to keep the score momentraily at 1-1.
However are runaway leaders atop the National League for a reason, and managed to find a second just after the hour mark. Ryan Colclough had been the danger man for much of the game, and after being fouled for the free kick in the first half had a goal in the second. He was fed through well on the edge of the Shots box, and he picked out a fantastic effort into the bottom corner to fire Paul Cook’s Chesterfield into the lead with just over 25 minutes to go.
Moments later Colcough proved he was human, as a quick counter attack following Ryan Glover losing the ball ended in the winger unmarked heading wide from close range. This was Glover’s last involvement, as he hobbled off with Liam Charles as part of a double substitution which also saw Tommy Willard make way for Olly Scott and Stuart O’Keefe.
The game looked done and dusted just under 10 minutes after Colclough made it 2-1, as Will Grigg added a third to the Chesterfield lead. A cross came in from the left for Chesterfield, and Jordi Van Stappershoef originally did well to get a hand to it, but Will Grigg was on hand to fire into the back of the net to send the SMH Group Stadium into a rendition of “Will Grigg’s on fire”.
Standing in for Tommy Widdrington Hugo Langton made a final change with just a few minutes left in the game as scorer of the Shots only goal Josh Stokes made way for Joe Haigh.
Chesterfield weren’t done at 3, and with 3 of the 4 minutes of added time gone Chesterfield added a fourth goal to their lead. Tom Naylor exploited the gap he found down the left wing, and played the ball across the box, finding Armando Dobra who then sat down two Aldershot defenders before sending his effort into the back of the Shots net from close range.
The fourth was the last goal the Spireites scored, ending the scoring in added time and wrapping up all the points in an impressive performance. The Shots now prepare for a festive double against Woking, and will join Chesterfield in preparing for the third round of the FA Cup at the start of the new year.
- Jordi Van Stappershoef, 2. Haji Mnoga, 3. Ollie Harfield, 4. Cian Harries (C), 5. Coby Rowe, 8. Tyler Frost, 10. Josh Stokes (20. Joe Haigh, 88′), 11. Ryan Glover (18. Olly Scott, 71′), 22. Jack Barham, 27. Tommy Willard (7. Stuart O’Keefe, 71′), 39. Kwame Thomas
38. Finlay Westen, 24. Maxwell Mullins
Attendance: 8320 (235 away)