Chris Woods reports from the Westminster Waste Stadium…
Bromley’s JJ Hooper was gifted a double by Aldershot Town today at the Westminster Waste Stadium as both sides played out a 2-2 draw, Reece Grant and Luke Howell scored for the Shots.
Hooper opened the scoring early on after the ball slid out of Will Mannion’s hands whilst under no pressure, Grant capitalised on a home defensive error to equalise before Howell’s thunderous drive put the Shots ahead in the second half. But a Howell back pass was picked up by Hooper to wrap up the scoring.
Shots boss Gary Waddock made four changes to the side that drew 0-0 with AFC Fylde last week. Alex Finney, Dominic Bernard, Adam McDonnell and Grant all came in for Matt McClure and Marvin McCoy who dropped to the bench, George Elokobi who was missing with injury and Regan Booty who has a bout of tonsillitis.
There was also a place on the bench for James Rowe who had been missing since September after a freak injury sustained at home severed tendons in his foot.
On a cold, drizzly day in South-East London it was the hosts who took the lead on 4 minutes. Mannion comfortably caught a cross and when he went to throw the ball to a teammate it slipped out of his grasp and straight at the feet of Hooper who slotted into an empty net.
Howell then put his head on the line to block a Frankie Sutherland effort and Marc-Anthony Okoye headed over from a Bromley corner.
The Shots offered their first warning on 21 minutes when Scott Rendell’s low cross just evaded the outstretched legs of Grant and John Goddard in front of goal.
But four minutes later the Shots equalised. McDonnell crossed for Rendell who flicked to Grant at the far post, it deflected off a defender and across the face of goal to Goddard who squared it back across to Grant to tap in from close range.
Bromley then had two chances in two minutes just before half time. Firstly, Luke Coulson swerved a low effort wide of the goal and then Sutherland had an effort blocked by Howell with Mannion tipping over the ricochet.
The hosts went close first in the second half. Coulson dispossessed McDonnell on the left before cutting a low cross back to substitute Omar Bugiel but Mannion got a strong hand on his effort and the Shots cleared.
Grant was causing Bromley left-back Sam Wood numerous problems and beat the defender onto the end of a long ball, but his effort was well blocked by Okoye.
It was Grant again getting on the end of a long forward pass, this time he held it up wide left and cut it back for Howell who unleashed a fantastic 25-yard effort past David Gregory and in off the corner of the crossbar and post.
However, the hosts responded well. Coulson cut a low ball back to Sutherland on the edge of the box who had time to pick his spot, curling an effort toward the top right corner, but Mannion got across goal superbly to tip it round the post.
They did equalise on 63 minutes. Rollin Menayese nodded a ball to Howell who played a pass back to Mannion unaware of Hooper’s presence and the striker collected the ball before the keeper and rolled it into the goal.
This encouraged the hosts and they went close again through Okoye who got on the end of a great cross from Frankie Raymond but headed over when it looked easier to score.
With the Shots piling bodies forward Bromley hit the visitors on a counter-attack. That move ended with Brandon Sarpong-Wiredu’s effort well saved by Mannion and Coulson knocked the rebound over.
The Shots were almost relegated in injury time with Dover finishing a 0-0 draw. Had Hooper swerved in his last-minute effort the Shots would’ve been looking at National League South football next season. But he struck wide and the game finished 2-2 and with other results going in the Shots favour they live to fight another day.
Anything but a win against Hartlepool United at the EBB Stadium next week would see the Shots down.
ALDERSHOT TOWN: Mannion, Bernard, Menayese, Finney, McDonnell, Gallagher (Berkeley-Agyepong 73), Howell (Rowe 64), Goddard, Mensah, Grant, Rendell (McDonagh 90).
Subs not used: McClure, McCoy.