Aldershot Town enjoyed another barnstorming FA Cup tie, and again showed their Sunday best against Football League opposition, but a second replay was the least The Shots deserved from a superb performance.
The game may have ended goalless but this was a match full of drama, as the hosts bridged the two division gap in style and ultimately it was the League One side who were grateful for a second chance at Spotland in nine days’ time.
Aldershot Town had made a positive start to a keenly-fought but cagey first-half, yet they ended the game by laying siege to the Dale goal only to be frustrated by the excellent form of keeper Conrad Logan.
Williams shot over from 25 yards, after Wilson created the game’s first chance for him, but Phil Smith was the equal to his opposite number as a blocked shot fell to Calvin Andrew in the penalty area, and Smith was quick off his line to smother Andrew’s attempted flick over him.
Both sides showed great endeavour but found little reward for their efforts. Holman hit a rising shot over the bar and, on 31 minutes, seemed to be pulled back by former Shots’ defender Oliver Lancashire as he spun inside the box. His shot was impeded and easy for Logan, but referee Gibbs waved away the appeals.
Holman then shot wide across goal, and as half-time approached Henderson fortuitously sliced Molesley’s free-kick into Logan’s arms. Andrew then brought another strong save from Smith, with an angled drive, and two Michael Rose free-kicks at the start of the second-half threatened The Shots’ goal, but thereafter it was effectively one-way traffic.
Oastler was flattened inside the area as Roberts’ free-kick sparked a bout of head tennis, and Oyeleke’s attempted curling drive flew wide of the post as Aldershot Town steadily built momentum. Two goalmouth scrambles saw Williams almost break the deadlock on 64 minutes: wriggling for space in a congested box, his first shot was parried superbly by Logan and then, as the rebound was played back into the middle by Gibbs, he was challenged strongly amidst further appeals for a penalty.
Henderson slid a measured shot into the side-netting, after arriving late to meet Dawson’s pull-back, but the introduction of Tristan Plummer further galvanised The Shots into a thrilling grandstand finish as Dale were reduced to sporadic and rather weak long-range efforts.
Holman had a shot blocked, and strike partner Williams nearly capitalised upon a defensive slip to drive on into the box and hit a cross-shot which flew agonisingly through the goalmouth, before Forbes again released Williams on the left side of the area. This time, Logan was out to make the block, but still The Shots pushed for a late winner.
Oyeleke had two half-chances snuffed out and Williams had another shot charged down. At the other end, Henderson screwed a shot wastefully into the side-netting, but Glenn Wilson nearly won the game in injury-time, as Logan somehow kept out his hooked shot and then also blocked Holman’s attempt on the rebound.
It was a breathless ending, and a replay provided bittersweet solace for The Shots who will still enjoy the thrill of the third round draw on Monday night.