MATCH REPORT: Southend United 2 Aldershot Town 3 (A)

Aldershot Town picked up their first win of the season with a 3-2 away victory against Southend United at Roots Hall.

Goals from Demetriou (OG), Bettamer and second-half substitute Jacob Berkeley-Agyepong cancelled out Rhys Murphy’s strange opener, before Demetriou found the back of the net down the other end and sealed The Shots their first points of the 2021/22 Vanarama National League season.

Aldershot Town made two changes to the starting XI that faced Solihull Moors, with George Fowler and Mo Bettamer coming in to replace injured Kevin Lokko and Wassim Aouachria as Christian Oxlade-Chamberlain moved to right wing-back, allowing midfielder Alfy Whittingham to move into the Shots midfield in place of Jacob Berkeley-Agyepong, who took his place on the Aldershot Town bench.

Young forward Tommy Willard also rejoined the Shots Matchday Squad, as he took his place on the bench too.

It was a fairly even contest to begin with, as both sides looked to create the game’s first real opportunity to open the scoring with a slick move between Toby Edser and Lewis Kinsella allowing the former to pick out the onrushing Jayden Harris, who forced a good save from Southend’s Steve Arnold before seeing his second effort go just wide in the 11th minute.

This chance to open the scoring saw Southend respond with a number of half-chances to shoot that were bravely blocked by Aldershot Town defenders before the home side were able to find the game’s opening goal in bizarre circumstances in the 18th minute.

With the ball in The Shots’ goalkeeper Mitch Walker’s hands, Southend’s Rhys Murphy appeared to block Walker’s clearance before poking the ball home into an empty net, leaving Aldershot Town aggrieved by the referee’s decision to not award the foul on Walker and instead give the home side the game’s opening goal.

However, Aldershot Town responded well, with a number of half-chances created from the wide areas and set-pieces falling narrowly wide of the Southend United goal.

But, persistence paid off for The Shots, with the returning Alfy Whittingham heavily involved in Aldershot Town’s equaliser in the 36th minute which saw Southend defender Jason Demetriou force the ball into his own net.

Having collected the ball just inside the Southend half, Whittingham linked up well with his midfielder partner Jayden Harris, as the pair played a neat one-two and saw Whittingham fizz the ball across the Southend penalty area, which left Demetriou no choice but to turn the ball into his own net from his attempted sliding challenge.

This equaliser saw the last opportunity of the half for Aldershot Town and also for both sides, with an even half seeing the score level at the half-time interval.

The second-half proved to be a much more open contest, with The Shots taking the initiative early in the second 45 as Bettamer opened his account following a well-worked move in the 51st minute.

Whittingham produced a brilliant ball down the right-hand side to release Andrews, who showed great awareness to pick out his strike partner Bettamer who in turn did everything expected of him to find the back of the net and give an Aldershot Town the lead for the first time in the game.

Southend again, responded well to the challenge but Aldershot Town were resolute to the home side’s efforts and got their rewards with a third goal from recent substitute Berkeley-Agyepong, who showed great composure following a pinpoint pass by Toby Edser to seal the victory on a night where Aldershot Town showed great maturity to see the game out.

There was still time later into injury time for Demetriou to score an unexpected consolation in the 96th minute, as the wide man saw his cross find the far corner of Walker’s goal, but it was too late in the game to seal a late comeback and Aldershot Town were able to see things through for their first 3 points of the season.

Aldershot Town will now travel to Wealdstone FC on Saturday and look to take confidence from tonight’s performance as they look to push up the table.

Southend United XI: 1 S Arnold (G/K), 3 N Ralph, 5 S Hobson, 6 J Coulson (White 57′), 7 J Bridge, 8 J Dunne, 9 R Murphy, 10 S Dalby (Rush 80′), 11 T Egbri (Walsh 80′), 20 W Atkinson, 24 J Demetriou

Unused Subs: Seaden (G/K), Sayers

Aldershot Town FC: 1 M Walker (G/K), 2 G Fowler, 3 L Kinsella (C), 6 K Lyons-Foster, 7 A Whittingham, 8 T Edser, 9 M Bettamer (Berkeley-Agyepong 71′), 11 C Andrews (Akanbi 90′), 12 C Oxlade-Chamberlain, 22 G Phillips, 23 J Harris

Unused Subs: Hall (G/K), Watts, Willard