Tommy Widdrington marked his new contract with one of the best results in Shots history, as a hat trick from Jack Barham, a brace from Lorent Tolaj, and goals from Cian Harries and Josh Stokes gave Aldershot their ticket to the second round of the FA Cup in a 7-4 win against Swindon at the County Ground.
Dan Kemp and Charlie Austin each added late braces for Swindon, but their goals weren’t enough for the Robins to turn the game around.
Tommy Widdrington made two changes to the side that lost at Dorking last weekend, as Haji Mnoga and Tyler Frost returned to the XI in place of Tommy Willard and Coby Rowe to take on Swindon at the County Ground.
It was one of the fastest starts you’re likely to ever see from the Shots, as they took the lead with less than a minute on the clock. The Shots kicked off and held possession well, Cian Harries doing well to send a ball forward towards the Swindon box, which was headed out by Remeao Hutton, only as far as Josh Stokes, who slid it across for Jack Barham to convert with less than a minute gone.
There was barely enought time for Barham to celebrate his first before he had the chance to make it 2-0. Barham dispossessed a Swindon defender, and Murphy Mahoney rushed out to meet him leaving his goal exposed, and from an angle Barham curled the ball into the open net to make it 2-0 to the Shots, with 4 minutes gone.
Less than 10 minutes in Aldershot had a third. Tyler Frost picked up the ball just inside the Shots half, and played a hopeful ball over the top to Jack Barham, and from there Barham used his strength to work his way into the box. Barham played it into Tolaj, and overlapping him was Josh Stokes, who was found by Tolaj, and in turn Stokes found the back of the Swindon net.
Following Shots fast start Swindon began to get a foothold in the game, but a very good defensive shift from Cian Harries, Haji Mnoga and Ollie Harfield kept Swindon at bay. Charlie Austin and Tyrese Shade were getting the best chances for the Robins, but there was no way past the wall of the Shots defence before the interval for Swindon.
Aldershot almost had a fourth just before the break through Lorent Tolaj. Swindon were messing around with the ball at the back, and Tolaj won it and ran free into the Swindon box, with Murphy Mahoney’s save and the post all that denied the Shots from making it 4-0 before half time.
But, Tolaj would not give up that easy and the Shots had a fourth before half time. The ball fell to Jack Barham inside the Swindon half, but he was unable to forge a way forwards, instead passing to Tyler Frost, who dinked a ball in behind for Lorent Tolaj. Tolaj took the ball down beautifully and hit low and hard into the bottom right of Mahoney’s goal to make it 4-0.
HALF TIME: Swindon 0-4 Shots (Yes, you read that right!)
The second half started as quickly as the first ended, and for the second game in a row Josh Stokes went down in the box to win Aldershot a penalty in the second half. Cool, calm, Cian Harries stepped up to the plate, and sent Mahoney the wrong way to make it 5-0 to Aldershot with less than five minutes on the clock in the second half.
Just like the first half the Shots hit Swindon again, and this one might have been the pick of the bunch. The ball was bouncing around in the middle of the park and found its way to Lorent Tolaj, who on the half volley sent well past the reach of Murphy Mahoney and into the back of his net for the sixth time in the game.
Just before the hour, Jack Barham went into the book. Why? Well, after he got onto the end of Ryan Glover’s cross at the back post to tap it home and make it 7-0 to the Shots and a hat-trick for himself he took his shirt off in celebration as he ran over to the sold out away end.
It was Barham’s last involvement, as Tommy Widdrington turned to the bench to bring on Kwame Thomas with the tie all but settled and Widdrington not feeling that on a booking the risk was worth it for Barham. Barham was applauded by both sets of fans as he left the field of play.
Josh Stokes did have the ball in the back of the net again in the 68th minute, but Swindon were saved by the linesman’s flag on this occassion, as he deemed Stokes to have started his run a bit too early.
Tommy Widdrington turned to the bench again in the 72nd minute, as Joe Haigh and Tommy Willard were introduced in place of Josh Stokes and Lorent Tolaj, both of whom were much like Barham applauded off by the home fans.
It wouldn’t be the perfect afternoon for Aldershot as Dan Kemp did well to work the ball onto his left foot and finish past Jordi Van Stappershoef in the 75th minute. Again in the 78th minute Dan Kemp scored on his left foot and into Van Stappershoef’s bottom right corner, making it 7-2 to Aldershot.
There was a final switch for Tommy Widdrington in the 85th as Dejan Tetek and Maxwell Mullins came on in place of Theo Widdrington and Ryan Glover to see out the game.
Charlie Austin scored a late brace for Swindon in added time, but for the Robins it was too little too late for them to get anything back from the game, meaning Aldershot Town progressed as 7-4 winners at the County Ground.
Shots XI: 1. Jordi Van Stappershoef, 2. Haji Mnoga, 3. Ollie Harfield, 4. Cian Harries, 6. Theo Widdrington (34. Dejan Tetek, 85′), 8. Tyler Frost, 9. Lorent Tolaj (27. Tommy Willard, 72′), 10. Josh Stokes (20. Joe Haigh, 72′), 11. Ryan Glover (24. Maxwell Mullins, 85′), 17. Aaron Jones (C), 22. Jack Barham (39. Kwame Thomas, 61′)
Unused subs: 37. Jasper Shiek, 5. Coby Rowe, 31. Ollie Turner