MATCH REPORT: Shots 2-2 Stockport

The Shots and Stockport saw out an entertaining 2-2 draw in front of 4,756 fans at the EBB Stadium, with Josh Stokes scoring a brace for the home side as they sent League Two leaders Stockport to a replay.

Tommy Widdrington was forced into a change to the side which snatched late victory against Halifax last weekend, as Aaron Jones, who came off injured last weekend, was out of the starting XI for the first time this season in place of Haji Mnoga. Stuart O’Keefe and Olly Scott returned to a 9 man bench.

It took the Shots just 23 seconds to take the lead against Swindon, and it was almost a repeat of the first round at the EBB. Lorent Tolaj found himself in a bit of space in the Stockport half, and lofted a ball over to Jack Barham, who was through one on one against Ben Hinchcliffe, the Stockport stopper getting the better of him with less than a minute gone.

After opening the game the better of the two sides it was the Shots who took the lead, with a big helping hand from a Stockport defender. Ryan Glover did some fantastic work up the left to get from inside his own half to the edge of the Stockport box, and concluded his run by picking out Josh Stokes on the edge of the Stockport box, Stokes letting fly to give the Shots the lead, thanks to a huge deflection.

Before the game the Shots would have known the quality of League Two leaders Stockport, and 13 minutes in they found their way back into the game with a remarkable effort from Neill Byrne. The Stockport defender was invited into the Shots half, and continued to drive towards the Shots goal, eventually letting fly from range and finding the top corner in a contender for goal of the round.

Depsite only being 19-years-old Josh Stokes has become a key figure in this Shots side, and he had the best chance to put the Shots back into the lead with just under half an hour on the clock. One of Stokes’ best assets is his physicality, which was on full display as he held Kyle Knoyle off the ball to turn himself towards goal and get a shot away, his effort rolling just wide of Ben Hinchcliffe’s goal.

Akil Wright was walking a tight rope for Stockport, having been booked for a foul on Josh Stokes early in the game the Stockport midfielder was given a final warning by referee Paul Howard as he took down Haji Mnoga with a foul just inside the Hatters half. His race was run minutes after he fouled Mnoga, coming off for Joel Cotterill with 34 minutes on the clock.

Despite the gap in league positions between the teams the game was an open affair in the first half, Ryan Glover nearly giving Aldershot the lead 37 minutes in. Josh Stokes, as he does, did well to drive the Shots into the Stockport half, and found Tommy Willard wide of the Hatters box, who in turn cut the ball back to Glover, who curled his effort just wide of Hinchcliffe’s goal.

HALF TIME: Shots 1-1 Stockport

The Hatters have the third best attack in League Two, and it took them just 30 seconds to get themselves into the lead in the second 45. Ollie Harfield had left the left side of the back three open, and the space was exploited by Macauley Southam-Hayles, who darted towards the goal and found Nick Powell, who just about got in ahead of Coby Rowe to slide the ball across for Paddy Madden to convert from close range to give Stockport a 2-1 lead.

Now behind the Shots needed a lift, turning to the dugout to bring on Kwame Thomas in place of Jack Barham seven minutes into the second 45.

The League Two leaders had found a firm grip on the game in the second half, but the Shots still found half chances. Lorent Tolaj came close just before the hour mark, stabbing over a deflected cutback in front of the East Bank.

Despite it being Stockport in control of the game, the Shots were able to find a way back into the game in the 68th minute of the game. Stokes was originally doing good work to fight for a bouncing ball, which meant Kwame Thomas was able to flick the ball into the direction of Lorent Tolaj, and two on two Stokes had the freedom of the Stockport half, putting the ball beyond Ben Hinchcliffe to make it a brace for himself on the day in front of the East Bank.

Having already scored Stockport skipper Paddy Madden was causing an issue, and in the 79th minute he got onto the end of a free kick header down and half volleyed an effort just wide. The effort would be his last of the game, as Tanto Olaoefe and Antoni Sarcevic came on to try and find a winner for Stockport in the last 10 minutes.

Despite the best efforts of both sides, the Shots and Stockport were unable to be seperated, meaning a replay will be played at Edgeley Park with the date to be confirmed. While not victorious, a draw against the League Two leaders is nothing to be annoyed about for the Shots.

Attention will now turn to Eastleigh in the FA Trophy next weekend for Aldershot.

Shots XI:

  1. Jordi Van Stappershoef, 2. Haji Mnoga, 3. Ollie Harfield, 4. Cian Harries (C), 5. Coby Rowe, 8. Tyler Frost, 9. Lorent Tolaj, 10. Josh Stokes, 11. Ryan Glover, 22. Jack Barham (39. Kwame Thomas, 53′), 27. Tommy Willard

Unused Subs:

38. Finlay Westen, 7. Stuart O’Keefe, 14. Ollie Bray, 20. Joe Haigh, 17. Aaron Jones, 18. Olly Scott, 24. Maxwell Mullins, 31. Ollie Turner

Man of the Match: Josh Stokes

Attendance: 4,756 (4,373 home)