MATCH REPORT: Shots 1-0 Halifax Town

Aldershot Town left it late at the EBB, as Lorent Tolaj scored the only goal of a tight game in the 98th minute to give Tommy Widdrington and the Shots all 3 points in a 1-0 victory over Halifax Town.

Tuesday night saw the Shots pick up all the points in a dramatic 3-2 win at Bromley, and Tommy Widdrington decided to stick with the side that won at Hayes Lane, with Coby Rowe keeping his place as Haji Mnoga returned from international duty to replace Dejan Tetek on the bench.

Millenic Alli had scored twice in his last two games against the Shots, and very nearly made it three in three in front of the East Bank just after the 20 minute mark, as he let fly from range and struck the outside of Jordi Van Stappershoef’s goal with the only chance of note up to that point.

Halifax had the second best defensive record in the National League ahead of the game, and it showed, until the half an hour mark, when Cian Harries picked up the ball on the half way line and thought he’d try his luck with a dart towards the Halifax goal, eventually feeding through Tolaj who was denied by the Halifax skipper and stopper Sam Johnson from close range.

With the winter sun blinding the Shots they couldn’t replicate the same shine in front of goal, Lorent Tolaj, Ollie Harfield and Ryan Glover all having some half hearted appeals for penalties waived away by referee Sam Mulhall, who in turn did his part for the Shots as a few challenges by Ryan Glover and Aaron Jones on another day could have seen them go into the book, Mulhall instead keeping his cards in his pocket.

Some might say the best time to score is just before the interval, and Jack Barham very nearly did that with under 30 seconds of normal time in the half remaining. Ollie Harfield delivered an inswinging corner towards Barham, who had made one of his signature blindside runs, but Barham’s headed effort was saved well by Sam Johnson in the Halifax goal.

6th against 8th, the 5th best attack against the 2nd best defence, the Shots and the Shaymen had all the ingredients to cook up an instant classic at the EBB, but the one minute of added time told the tale going into the interval, with both sides holding their nerve for 45 minutes in a crucial tie in the race for the playoffs.

HALF TIME: Shots 0-0 Halifax

With the temperature dropping and the sun going down the EBB Stadium needed something from the Shots in the second 45 as they shot towards the East Bank, but after the hour mark the two sides remained in deadlock. However, the atmosphere had lifted, as referee Sam Mulhall decided to book Shots manager Tommy Widdrington.

Despite the scoreline staying the same the pattern of play had shifted, with the game now being played exclusively in front of the East Bank as Aldershot began to take a hold of the game. Barham had a half chance as he got across a defender but couldn’t connect with a Tolaj cross to break the dealock, and minutes later Stokes had possibly the best chance to score, getting in behind the compact Halifax defence and being denied from close range by Sam Johnson.

A first throw of the dice came from Tommy Widdrington in the 72nd minute, as Tommy Willard came off in place of Kwame Thomas, who had a huge impact off the bench for Widdrington earlier in the week at Hayes Lane.

Millenic Alli threatened to score again as the game headed towards the 80th minute, but after beating Cian Harries to get a shot off his effort also beat the post, sailing wide of Van Stappershoef’s goal.

Skipper Stuart O’Keefe has already spent a lengthy spell on the sidelines this season, and the EBB held its breath once again as Aaron Jones stayed down in the Halifax box following a clash with Kwame Thomas, but after some treatment from Liam Charles the Shots skipper Jones was able to carry on the game.

Unfortunately for Aaron Jones his game was done minutes after he returned to the field, limping off as Halifax threatened to attack. The Halifax attack did result in a few important saves from Jordi Van Stappershoef, but skipper Aaron Jones would make way in the 86th minute for a returning Haji Mnoga. Ollie Harfield took the armband in Jones’ absence.

Both sets of defences had put on good displays with the game still locked at 0-0 in the 95th minute, and that was reflected by the awarding of the Man of the Match award, which went to Coby Rowe.

It looked like it would be all she wrote as the clock struck 97, but Lorent Tolaj sent the EBB into raptures as he won the game for Aldershot in the 98th minute of the game. Haji Mnoga picked up the ball on the edge of the Halifax box and just wouldn’t give up as he darted into the area, playing the ball across to Tolaj who finally got the better of Sam Johnson with little to no time left on the clock.

Tolaj’s goal would prove to be all that there was of the game, as a late counter attack from the Swiss striker and Jack Barham was ended by the referee’s full time whistle as the Shots walked away 1-0 winners.

The late winner means the Shots remain in 6th place, with just a point seperating Aldershot in 6th and Solihull Moors in 4th. Tommy Widdrington’s side will now take a two week break from National League action, as they host Stockport in the FA Cup next week and travel to Eastleigh in the FA Trophy the week after.

Shots XI:

  1. Jordi Van Stappershoef, 3. Ollie Harfield, 4. Cian Harries, 5. Coby Rowe, 8. Tyler Frost, 9. Lorent Tolaj, 10. Josh Stokes, 11. Ryan Glover, 17. Aaron Jones (C) (2. Haji Mnoga, 86′), 22. Jack Barham, 27. Tommy Willard (39. Kwame Thomas, 72′)

Unused subs:

20. Joe Haigh, 24. Maxwell Mullins, 31. Oliver Turner

Attendance: 2537 (68 away)