MATCH REPORT: Shots 3-1 Rochdale

A convincing display from the Shots moved them back into the top 7, as goals from Lorent Tolaj, Cian Harries and Jack Barham gave Tommy Widdrington all the points in a 3-1 victory over Rochdale at the EBB Stadium.

After a strong showing against Bromley on Tuesday night the side remained mainly the same, but Tommy Widdrington was forced into a change as Aaron Jones was absent from the squad, meaning Olly Scott came into the side and Ryan Glover started against Rochdale in the right wingback position. New signing Rollin Menayese started on the bench.

Lorent Tolaj opened the scoring for the Shots on Tuesday night against Bromley, and he would be the first scorer once again as the Shots took an early lead against Rochdale. Stuart O’Keefe won the ball in midfield, and it was a good spin, turn and ball over the top to Jack Barham, who took it down and turned Finlay Armstrong before squaring the ball across the box to Lorent Tolaj, who at the back post gave the Shots the lead with 6 minutes gone.

Despite the fast start from the Shots they were pegged back with just over 10 minutes gone by Ian Henderson. Ethan Ebanks-Landell had the ball inside the Rochdale half, and with little to no pressure on him from the Shots attack was able to pick out a inch perfect pass onto the chest of Henderson, who took it down ahead of Coby Rowe and finished well into the bottom left of Jordi Van Stappershoef’s goal.

And end to end game almost had a third goal with 15 minutes gone, as Dejan Tetek played a pass just over the head of Ethan Ebanks-Landell, and Lorent Tolaj was able to get there ahead of Rochdale keeper Tiernan Brooks, who had stayed on his line, and Tolaj’s right footed effort trickled just wide of Brooks’ far post.

Unfortunately in the build up to that attack Olly Scott had gone down inside the Rochdale half, and after 18 minutes he was withdrawn from proceedings as Tyler Frost came on in his place at left wingback.

At 1-1 the game was very end to end, and it would be the Shots who made the best of their chances as they took the lead on the stroke of half time. Josh Stokes took the ball down, and layed off a simple ball to Stuart O’Keefe, who from deep was running fast and into the Rochdale box, and was subsequently taken down, with referee Aji Ajibola pointing to the spot. Up stepped Cian Harries, and he sent Tiernan Brooks the wrong way to give Aldershot the lead with ihs sixth penalty of the season.

Josh Stokes almost scored one of the most audacious goals the EBB Stadium would’ve ever seen in added time at the end of the first half, letting fly from the half way line after winning the ball back, seeing his effort bounce just wide. However, Harries goal would be the last of the half, and the Shots took the lead into the break.

HALF TIME: Shots 2-1 Rochdale

The Shots came out swinging for the second 45, and had two really good attempts within 5 minutes of the restart. The first came from Josh Stokes from just outside the box, as his defelcted effort was parried by Tiernan Brooks, and from the rebound Ryan Glover found Lorent Tolaj, and his curling effort defelcted off the crossbar and bounced just the wrong side of the line.

Despite missing two chances the Shots wouldn’t have to wait long for their third goal, and it came from Jack Barham in the 51st minute. Josh Stokes picked it up in a good area, and had time to pick his pass into the box for Jack Barham, who took it in his stride and finished well, low and beyond Tiernan Brooks to make it 3-1 to Aldershot.

The game remained very much end to end after Jack Barham scored the Shots third, however there were little chances on either goal, but Jack Barham and Josh Stokes both had good chances on Tiernan Brooks goal, and the midfield duo of Dejan Tetek and Stuart O’Keefe, much like on Tuesday night, were doing well to thwart the offensive effort of Rochdale.

Lorent Tolaj will feel he should’ve made it a brace for himself in the 78th minute, after Josh Stokes played a wonderful ball around Ethan Ebanks-Landell to find him one on one with Tiernan Brooks, however his effort was straight down the throat of the Rochdale stopper.

A good showing by Stuart O’Keefe came to an end with 10 minutes to go, as Tommy Widdrington took him off in place of Kwame Thomas, looking to add to the three goals his side had already scored with another striker. Aldershot continued to threaten, but were unable to make a real chance before Widdrington’s next substitution, as Lorent Tolaj made way for Josh Barrett in the 86th minute.

Given the convincing nature of the second half Tommy Widdrington may feel hard done by that his side only scored three, but with three points coming his way, there can’t be too many complaints as referee Aji Ajibola blew for full time at 3-1. Attention for the Shots now turns to Tuesday night’s trip to Wealdstone.

Shots XI

    1. Jordi Van Stappershoef, 3. Ollie Harfield, 4. Cian Harries, 5. Coby Rowe, 7. Stuart O’Keefe (C) (39. Kwame Thomas, 80′), 9. Lorent Tolaj (20. Josh Barrett, 86′), 10. Josh Stokes, 11. Ryan Glover, 18. Olly Scott (8. Tyler Frost, 18′), 22. Jack Barham, 34. Dejan Tetek

Unused subs

6. Theo Widdrington, 25. Rollin Menayese

Attendance: 3011 (2828 Shots fans)