Aldershot and Farnborough battled to a 1-1 draw as a Lorent Tolaj red card forced the 10-men of Aldershot to equalise through Jack Barham after Alfie Pavey had put the hosts in front.
It took a while for the game to get going as a quiet opening 10 minutes was then disrupted by a couple of extended injury breaks for the hosts. Lorent Tolaj was causing a few problems to the hosts’ backline but couldn’t quite get a sight at goal.
Farnborough did come close in those opening 10 minutes, however, as Adam Mekki – a former Shot, of course – dragged a shot wide after finding himself in on goal.
Aldershot’s first chance of any real note came in the 14th minute. An Ollie Harfield free-kick was met by Coby Rowe but he couldn’t get a proper connection on his header. It bounced harmlessly just wide of the post and just inches out of the reach of Josh Stokes who was eager to turn the ball in from close-range.
Farnborough hadn’t had many chances in the first half-hour of the match but grew into the first-half. Jordi Van Stappershoef had to be quick on his toes to race out and clear a through ball between the Shots’ backline.
But, in the 32nd minute, the home side found the breakthrough. Another through ball between the Aldershot defence was better weighted and Alfie Pavey was able to latch onto it and slot the ball under Van Stappershoef.
Aldershot were able to fashion one more opportunity before half-time to equalise the game. The Shots scored three goals from brilliant phases of play against AFC Totton on Saturday and another of those was unable to result in a goal this time. Cian Harries found himself on the left-wing and crossed deep to Aaron Jones at the back-post, but his header was just wide.
Josh Stokes got his first taste of scoring for Aldershot in Saturday’s win over AFC Totton and was hungry for another. Coby Rowe played a great pass into the youngster’s feet, he turned instantly, but his shot was just wide.
The game took a sour turn as it approached the hour mark. Stokes showed great feet in the box to beat his man and appeared to be tripped but as he tried to get back to his feet, was shoved back to the ground twice by Sid Nelson. Whether there was contact or not, it’s never nice to see an experienced player burst out at a youngster.
It seemed all 22 players were involved in a brawl that broke out after which resulted in Lorent Tolaj receiving a red card and Sid Nelson getting a yellow…
But back to the football and it didn’t take the 10-men of Aldershot to get back in the game. Jack Barham showed a great touch to pluck the ball out of the air and cut in from the left. He then produced a lovely finish to find the bottom corner and an equaliser for his side.
The usual flurry of substitutes disrupted the closing stages of the game but a bit of action spurred into life in the last few minutes.
Barham rose highest to meet a cross and head back across goal but Trialist B’s effort was dragged wide with five minutes remaining. But, it was the hosts who had the best chance to nick a win at the death. Maxwell Mullins did brilliantly to chase back a long ball but lost his footing and a trialist cut inside. He slotted his shot under Trialist A, but George Milner-Smith did brilliantly to get back on the line and clear the danger to ensure the game finished level.
Shots lineup: 1. Jordi Van Stappershoef (13. Trialist A 79′), 2. Ollie Harfield (c) (16. Kwame Thomas 71′), 3. Maxwell Mullins, 4. Theo Widdrington (18. Henry Ochieng 65′), 5. Coby Rowe (15. George Milner-Smith 65′), 6. Cian Harries (12. Jack Barham 46′), 7. Aaron Jones (20. Keane Anderson 79′), 8. Tyler Frost, 9. Lorent Tolaj, 10. Tommy Willard (14. Trialist B 65′), 11. Josh Stokes (19. Trialist C 65′).