It was to be a difficult afternoon for the Shots in Eastleigh as they fell to defeat with 10 men and no goalkeeper.
Aldershot made two changes to the side that beat Wealdstone 3-1 48 hours earlier with Tommy Willard and Kwame Thomas replacing Lorent Tolaj and Jack Barham.
The Shots had the first effort at goal after just a minute after Kwame Thomas chested the ball down and launched a half-volley goalwards only to see it deflected behind for a corner.
But it was Eastleigh who were the more threatening in the early stages. Jordi Van Stappershoef made two smart saves down low to deny two efforts from outside the area.
Aldershot enjoyed the larger spell of possession, but couldn’t translate this to creating clear-cut chances. Crosses were missing the men in the middle by mere inches and shots were constantly charged down.
Josh Stokes burst into the area in the 22nd minute and made it all the way to the byline before cutting it back but the delivery was just behind the on-rushing Tommy Willard.
A powerful Tyler Frost effort which appeared to be on-target and a threatening effort was blocked in the 29th minute as the Shots were pushing forward to try and take the lead.
But, Aldershot’s game plan took a huge dent in the 35th minute when Van Stappershoef received a red card for colliding with an Eastleigh player just outside the area.
Lorent Tolaj was brought on in place of Tommy Willard and donning ‘keeper kit and gloves, would have to spend at least 55 minutes of play facing shots at goal instead of taking them.
With the first shot at his goal, his clean sheet was tarnished, though, as Chris Maguire converted the free-kick from around 20 yards out in off the underside of the crossbar.
The Swiss striker turned ‘keeper would make a good save not long later, however, as he denied a powerful, low effort from Jake Taylor and gathered the ball well.
The second-half was a rather unique affair. Eastleigh were looking to control proceedings with their numerical advantage and each time they touched the ball inside the Shots half, cries of ‘shoot’ could be heard from the Spitfires’ support.
They didn’t really do so, however. Lorent Tolaj was relatively unthreatened until the 64th minute when Eastleigh doubled their lead. A corner from the right side was turned in by Enzio Boldewijn.
Tolaj’s time in goal would end in the 68th minute, but he wasn’t taken off the pitch. Instead, Kwame Thomas swapped and moved from up top to in goal to allow a relatively fresher pair of legs lead the Shots attack.
But Thomas’ first action in goal was to pick the ball out of his net. Boldewijn found himself in on goal and a simple, low finish was enough to score his second and Eastleigh’s third of the afternoon.
Credit must go to Thomas for having the spirit to take his position between the sticks and he did very well to claim a cross under significant pressure in the 80th minute.
It must also be noted that despite being 3-0 down and outnumbered, the Shots continued to push forward and in the closing stages even dominated possession as they failed to give up on a difficult afternoon.
Attendance: 3045 (615 away)
Shots lineup: 1. Jordi Van Stappershoef, 2. Haji Mnoga, 3. Ollie Harfield, 4. Cian Harries, 5. Coby Rowe (22. Jack Barham 58′), 8. Tyler Frost, 10. Josh Stokes (18. Olly Scott 76′), 11. Ryan Glover, 17. Aaron Jones (C), 27. Tommy Willard (9. Lorent Tolaj 37′), 39. Kwame Thomas. Subs not used: 21. Ethan Burnett, 24. Maxwell Mullins.