Chris Woods reports from the Furness Building Society Stadium…
A heartbreaking 95th-minute winning penalty from John Rooney snatched a point away from a battling Aldershot Town side at Holker Street.
Port Vale loanee Dior Angus opened the scoring on 32 minutes with a glancing near post header. Adam McDonnell equalised in a spirited second half performance from the Shots. The hosts were awarded a penalty on 85 minutes that was saved by Jake Cole, but Rooney despatched a controversial last-minute penalty.
Shots boss Gary Waddock made three changes to the side that lost to Gateshead last week. Alex Finney, Jacob Berkeley-Agyepong and McDonnell started with Reece Grant missing through injury and Jake Gallagher and Josh Lelan dropping to the bench. There was also a place on the bench for Academy keeper Ryan Hall as Will Mannion remains out injured.
In a game laden with chances, it was the Shots who had the first. Finney crossed low for Bernard Mensah who flicked an effort off a Barrow defender who nearly guided it into his own net. George Elokobi then went close from the resulting John Goddard corner, but put his free header over the bar.
Shots then hit Barrow on a devastating break on 31 minutes, Luke Howell intercepted a wayward past and put Mensah in behind the defence, but he fired a shot just wide of the goal.
Typical of the Shots’ season so far, Barrow were ahead a minute later. Lewis Hardcastle crossed into the midrift of Angus, but he bent down to nod a low header past Cole.
Berkeley-Agyepong was put in behind the defence twice in two minutes, first by Howell, then by Goddard, the first one he put wide, the second he cut back for Goddard who layed off for Regan Booty, but the Huddersfield loanee’s low, piercing effort went just wide of the post.
The Bluebirds almost doubled their lead just before half time. Firstly through Dan Jones who was played in on goal by Rooney, but he smashed across the face of the goal. The second one saw Hardcastle’s 30-yard free-kick cannon off of the crossbar in first half injury time.
Aldershot started the second half strongly and saw Berkeley-Agyepong shank an effort wide. And on 58 minutes the visitors were deservedly level. McDonnell collected a squared pass from Goddard, skipped past his man and fired a low, accurate effort past Dixon into the bottom corner.
McDonnell almost doubled his tally ten minutes later. He robbed Jones of the ball outside the defender’s area and burst toward goal but his effort went inches over the crossbar.
Then on 85 minutes the game had it first penalty incident. Josh Kay nipped in ahead of Finney and looked to have been clipped by the defender, whether or not that was in the area is up for debate, but Gareth Rhodes had no hesitation but to point to the spot.
Kay was confident and immediately grabbed the ball to take. He stepped up but it was palmed away to the keepers right by Cole and Dominic Bernard was there quickly to prevent Jack Hindle slotting in the rebound.
Shots couldn’t kick on from the penalty save lift and in the 94th minute the hosts had another penalty. A fierce low corner deflected off of a Barrow player onto the hand of a Shots defender from close range and the referee pointed to the spot again.
After a lengthy delay with players clashing with the referee and each other, Rooney stepped up to take. He calmly smashed it down the middle with Cole diving to his left. A sickening blow for the Shots as the final whistle went seconds after.
ALDERSHOT TOWN: Cole, Menayese, Elokobi, Finney, Bernard, Booty, Howell, McDonnell (Gallagher 82), Goddard (Fenelon 71), Mensah, Berkeley-Agyepong (McDonagh 71).
Subs not used: Hall, Lelan.