Adele Matthews reports from the CNG Stadium…
A hattrick from Harrogate centre-back Warren Burrell crushed an ultra-depleted Aldershot side as they returned to Hampshire pointless and remaining 17th in the league.
An already depleted Shots squad saw Gerry McDonagh thrown straight into the starting line-up up top after he signed on loan from Barnsley yesterday. Shamir Fenelon and Luke Howell were added to the injury list with semi-fit Matt McClure and Karleigh Osborne helping fill the subs bench with three players.
But despite this adversity the Shots started the brightest and were undone by three set-piece goals. An early goal from Adam McDonnell boosted the North-Hampshire side as they provided a fast-paced first half performance, but their lack of presence when braced when defending set-pieces was their ultimate downfall.
It was a lively start for the Shots with a one-two from new loanee, McDonagh to Luke Wanadio on the left. Dominic Bernard waited in the penalty box but his angled turn lacked power and was deflected.
More great work between Bernard and McDonagh resulted in a determined attack from Gary Waddock’s side. The pairs quick interchange of passes eventually found McDonnell, who pounced upon another Wanadio cross and drove it into the back of the net.
Two almost identical free-kicks for the hosts within 10 minutes put pressure on the Shots, followed up with two strikes from George Thompson on the edge of the box. However, Will Mannion appeared to have done his homework and the keeper provided two excellent dives to the left to keep the visitors in the lead.
Another set-piece for Harrogate led tp their equaliser on 32 minutes. A deep free-kick delivery was followed by a header across goal by Liam Kitching and whilst Mannion pushed away the first attempt, the second by Dominic Knowles was cleared off the line by Dominic Bernard. The clearance unfortunately fed into the path of Burrell to hit in from six yards.
The 4-4-2 formation appeared to suit Irish forward McDonagh who’s brilliant run put him in a position to fire a shot above his two markers. Keeper James Belshaw left his mark to punch it away but the shot was part of a positive response from their loss to Ebbsfleet United last weekend.
Neither team seemed concerned as torrential rain caused havoc across Harrogate in the second half with both sides evidently eager to grab the three points available.
Unfortunately for the Shots, another set-piece from the Town was their demise. A low-swung corner was simply met by Burrell at the near-post and the centre-back nodded a header past Manion.
Harrogate continued to push, following increased confidence. A low cross from the right channel skimmed the goalmouth but no one was able to get a touch on the ball.
An impressive, strong cross from Wanadio helped sub Josh Barrett get a shot away in the area but the attacking midfielder lost composure and his chance rocketed out the ground.
Burrell secured his hattrick in the 70th minute and again, from a set-piece. The centre-back stuck out his foot as a long free-kick was driven forward.
Soon after, McDonnell had to be substituted and limped off holding his hamstring. If serious, Aldershot will have to add to their ever-increasing injury list having also lost Marvin McCoy at half time to injury.
As the scoreboard went up to for three minutes of injury time, Jack Muldoon’s chipped finish gave Simon Weaver’s side a 4-1 lead and wrapped up the scoring.
Shots finished the game with only 12 fit players and with Barrett returning to Reading this week will go into next week’s FA Trophy game against Bedford Town currently with just a starting eleven to field.
ALDERSHOT TOWN: Mannion, McCoy (McClure 46), Bernard, Lelan, Kinsella, McDonnell (Osborne 76), Gallagher, Booty, Wanadio, Grant (Barrett 58), McDonagh.