Josh Stokes was once again amongst the goals for Tommy Widdrington’s Aldershot, as his 59th minute strike was cancelled out late on by Ed Francis to give the Shots and Gateshead a point each in a 1-1 draw in front of 1,948 fans at the EBB.
One change was made to the XI that won at Fylde by Tommy Widdrington, Coby Rowe making way for new Northampton loanee Max Dyche in defence. There were three different faces joining Coby Rowe on the bench, as Theo Widdrington, Jack Barham, and back from international duty Haji Mnoga returned to the squad in place of Henry Ochieng, Finlay Westen, Maxwell Mullins and Ethan Burnett.
The game didn’t get off to the most electric of starts, with chances in the opening 25 minutes few and far between for either side. Gateshead found their way through a solid Shots defence once in the opening exchanges, but an offside Marcus Dinanga saw his effort saved by the feet of Jack Bycroft. The visitors were enjoying more of the ball, but an excellent defensive shape from Tommy Widdrington’s side proved difficult for the Heed to breakdown.
The first big chance of the game fell to in-form Marcus Dinanga just before the half an hour mark, as he worked a way onto his left foot in the Shots box, but his attempted effort across the body of Jack Bycroft was saved well by the Southampton loanee, and put out for a corner.
Dinanga was proving a threat for the visitors, and again had a good chance to find a way past Bycroft just before half time. Joseph Grayson hit a good chance towards Bycroft’s goal, and Dinanga got a foot on it, but it was sent over the bar, and Dinanga was greeted by the offside flag anyway.
Despite spells of possesion from either side, neither was able to find a breakthrough before the half-time interval, giving both managers a lot to think about at the break.
HALF TIME: Shots 0-0 Gateshead
46′ Josh Stokes breaks in behind the Gateshead defence from kick-off but is tackled before he can get a shot away.
53′ Header flicked on to Dinanga, shot low and hard towards the bottom left corner and Jack Bycroft gets down really well to stop it.
55′ Tolaj turns Kenton Richardson really well and forces the defender to hack him down and get booked.
57′ Shots work really well, Tyler Frost cuts back on the right wing and passes to Aaron Jones, first time cross is flicked on at the near post by Tolaj and forces Archie Mair into a save with his feet.
The second half started in a similar vein to the first half, but Lorent Tolaj almost gave the Shots the lead in the 57th minute. Tyler Frost linked up really well with Aaron Jones on the Shots right hand side, and the skipper Jones whipped a good first time ball into the Swiss striker Tolaj, who flicked on at the near post, forcing Archie Mair to use his feet to keep the ball out.
Aldershot finally kicked the game into life in the 59th minute, as Josh Stokes scored to give Tommy Widdrington’s side the lead. The move staretd with Cian Harries in the Shots half, who played a ball over the top and in behind the Gateshead defence for Tyler Frost. In a good position, Frost cut the ball back for Tolaj, who shifted the ball onto his left and flicked in through for Josh Stokes, and as calmly as you like Stokes poked the ball in off the post to give Shots the lead.
Provider Tolaj was the first change of the afternoon by Tommy Widdrington, as he made way in the 62nd minute for a returning Jack Barham. Glover joined Tolaj in the dugout in the 75th minute, as he went down with what appeared to be cramp and was replaced by Theo Widdrington.
Gateshead were doing a good job of keeping possession following the Aldershot goal, and in the 85th minute were finally able to break down the Shots defence. The ball was put into the box, and Aaron Jones was able to get a foot on the ball, but unfortunately for him his touch fell right into the path of Ed Francis, who put it low and past Bycroft to bring the visitors level.
Another brilliant display from Josh Stokes came to an end in additional time at the end of the game, as he made way for Tommy Willard in a third and final change for the Shots on the afternoon.
The Shots continued to defend as well as they could after conceding, and after 6 minutes of added time the game came to an end with the sides still level. Attention now turns to Tuesday night for Aldershot, as they travel to the Hive to take on Barnet.
Shots XI: 25. Jack Bycroft, 3. Ollie Harfield, 4. Cian Harries, 8. Tyler Frost, 9. Lorent Tolaj (25. Jack Barham, 62′), 10. Josh Stokes (27. Tommy Willard, 90′), 11. Ryan Glover (6. Theo Widdrington, 75′), 17. Aaron Jones (C), 18. Olly Scott, 35. Max Dyche, 39. Kwame Thomas
Unused subs: 2. Haji Mnoga, 5. Coby Rowe