A superb second half performance amidst horrendous weather at the EBB saw the Shots ease to an impressive 3-1 scoreline and leapfrog their opposition, Chester FC, in the Vanarama National League table.
The Shots kicked off towards the High Street end on a pitch that had received a lot of rainfall over the previous few days.
The first chance fell to the Shots with Charlie Walker releasing his brother, Dan, down the right wing. Dan’s cross evaded debutante Pavey in the centre and fell to Rhys Browne at the back post, whose shot was crowded out for a corner. The resulting corner was met by Beckles adjacent to the back post. His header caused a scramble in the goalmouth and Sean McGinty’s effort beat the goalkeeper, Worsnop, but was cleared on the line by Johnny Hunt. The first five minutes had been really promising for the Shots.
In the seventh minute, a long ball over the top was defended by Beckles whore attempt to head back to Phil Smith was well read by Ross Hannah. He intercepted the pass back and lifted the ball over the onrushing Smith, but fortunately for the Shots, also over the crossbar.
The brief scare didn’t break the stride of the Shots, and the offensive continued. Damon Lathrope struck a optimistic but powerful effort from 25 yards into a defender and forced another corner. This corner caused problems for the Chester defence again, and it was that man McGinty who was again involved. Beckles lept highest and nodded down to McGinty at the near post, and with a stretch pushed the ball onto the crossbar. He could have had a brace within the first 12 minutes!
After this the game fell relatively quiet, with possession switching from side to side. The next effort was a snatched one from Ross Hannah for Chester who took a window of opportunity left-footed from range, but was tame and straight at Smith.
Ross Hannah was also involved in the next chance for Chester, in the 35th minute. Following around 30 seconds of ‘head tennis’ in midfield, Craig Mahon played a delightful diagonally into the Shots area, and a sliding Hannah couldn’t connect at the far post.
Just as it looked like the first half was going to peter out there was one last chance at either end.
For the Shots, Dan Walker reached the byline and pulled the ball back to Gallagher at the front post who was dispossessed by the keeper, Worsnop, as he was preparing to shoot. This was eclipsed by what followed at the other end, the biggest event of the first half.
Ross Hannah flicked the ball onto Craig Mahon who broke into the penalty area and lifted the ball past the onrushing keeper. Smith looked to connect with Mahon and the Chester faithful were protesting for a penalty and red card which (from our position in the North Stand) looked a certainty. After much discussion between the referee and linesman on the far side however, a goal-kick was awarded.
Whether by luck, or judgement, the Shots were relieved to leave the pitch at half time with eleven men, but a little frustrated to not be leaving with a lead to defend. A bright start that ended more conservatively, and a half where realistically, either side could’ve been leaving the pitch 2-0 up.
HT: Aldershot Town 0-0 Chester FC
Chester kicked off the second half in increasingly heavy rain following The Shots making their first change. Goalkeeper Phil Smith being replaced by Dan Thomas. No news on whether this was a change enforced by injury or not.
The first half started as frantically as the first had ended, and at the same end of the pitch. A succession of Aldershot corners were thrown into the box amongst swirling wind and rain, and in the 49th minute, the deadlock was broken.
49: Aldershot Town 1-0 Chester FC | Sean McGinty
Sean McGinty, who realistically could’ve had a hat-trick by this point, peeled off towards the front post to flick the corner towards the back post. Worsnop, obviously affected by the weather, attempted to punch clear and grazed the ball, sending it spinning into the net at the back post.
51: Aldershot Town 2-0 Chester FC | Alfie Pavey
A mere two minutes later, a Shots counter saw Rhys Browne burst down the right and whip a low cross into the Chester area. Debutant Millwall loanee, Alfie Pavey, connected (albeit not in the cleanest fashion) forcefully enough to beat Worsnop at his right-hand post.
BBC Surrey’s Gavin Denison had a great stat to share!
In reaction to this, Chester were inspired to make a double substitution. Tom Shaw and John Rooney replaced Steven Hewitt and Ryan Lloyd to provide some more attacking options.
The rain was now hammering down at the EBB, and the ground was getting heavy. This was causing unpredictable problems for both sides, with the run of the ball slowing up or skidding, on occasion leading to mistimed challenges and mistimed connections with the ball.
The frustration was also starting to show for Chester, and a scuffle on the sidelines in the 55th minute saw both Luke George and Alfie Pavey receive a booking for their part in it.
Dan Walker was the next Shots player to look to add his name to the score sheet. After some industrious work down the left from Browne, the attack was recycled in the centre by Lathrope out to Dan who cut inside on his left foot and drove the ball goalwards, but past the left-hand post.
The next period saw good pressure from Chester. First, Ben Heneghan went close, not managing to stretch enough to connect with a corner at the back post. Then, following Jason Gilchrist’s introduction to the game, replacing Ian Sharps, he was worked into a one on one position centrally. But, under good pressure from Joe Oastler, his effort was weak and straight at Dan Thomas. It looked as if the ball was slowed by some standing water outside of the area and caught under his feet, not allowing his to get power into the shot.
Next Danny Hattersley was agonisingly close to connecting to a cross at the back post following a cross, but as with Heneghan minutes previously, just couldn’t reach it.
78: Aldershot Town 2-1 Chester FC | John Rooney
Chester’s pressure was rewarded minutes later, and what a way to get back into the game. Substitute John Rooney picked the ball up 25 yards out, and with the Shots defence not applying adequate pressure, unleashed a fierce drive into the top right corner past a helpless Dan Thomas. A really special goal.
This goal didn’t quite spur on Chester in the way in which I’m sure Steve Burr would’ve hoped, but instead it kicked the Shots back into action as they began to work up the pressure themselves.
As the rain died down in the 80th minute, a free-kick taken by Lathrope was nodded back across goal by Beckles into the path of Charlie Walker who could only slide the ball to the right of the goal under pressure.
Three minutes later, Lathrope again was involved as he beautifully read a pass from the Chester defencive line and pounced on it. Driving forward with two touches he unleashed a daisy cutter which was slowed by the wet surface and allowed Worsnop to cover to his right-hand side.
In the 86th minute, ‘Man of the Match’, Sean McGinty, released Charlie Walker down the left who held the ball up well in the penalty area and pulled the ball square for Jake Gallagher who had caught up to support. With a first time shot in line with the back post he really should have put the game to bed, but instead Worsnop got behind it well. That turned out to be Charlie Walker’s last involvement as he made way for Jim Stevenson to bolster the midfield.
89: Aldershot Town 3-1 Chester FC | Jim Stevenson
Barry Smith couldn’t have wished for that sub to have worked out better. Dan Walker was first to reach a ball cleared out of the Shots area and drove down the right channel. He switched play out to Browne on the left, cut the ball back to Jim Stevenson who clipped the ball up past Jon Worsnop into the top right.
That put the game to bed. Four minutes of added time were played out but Chester couldn’t get more of a foothold in the game. Chester will be disappointed with not being able to impose themselves in the game more. The big ‘what-if’ will of course be that first-half penalty decision which didn’t go their way. That said, a tremendous performance for the Shots in horrible conditions. Here’s hoping they can take that intensity up to Macclesfield on the 23rd!
FT: Aldershot Town 3-1 Chester FC
Shots XI: 1. P Smith, 2. J Oastler, 3. S McGinty, 4. D Lathrope, 10. C Walker, 12. C Alexander, 14. O Beckles, 15. R Browne, 16. J Gallagher, 19. D Walker, 20. A Pavey. Subs: 6. L Oliver, 8. J Stevenson, 13. J Stevenson, 17. R Brodie, 23. D Carr.
Chester XI: 1. J Worsnop, 2. R Higgins, 3. J Hunt, 5. L George, 6. I Sharps, 7. C Mahon, 9. R Hannah, 16. S Hewitt, 22. B Heneghan, 25. D Hattersley, 26. R Lloyd. Subs: 8. T Shaw, 10. J Rooney, 11. J Chapell, 17. R Astles, 20. J Gilchrist.
MoM: Sean McGinty
Attendance: 1,617 (158 away)
Referee: Mr Brett Huxtable
Assistant Referees: Mr Paul Lister & Mr Lee Marshallsay
Fourth Official: Mr Ollie Davies
Match Sponsor: Yateley MOT Centre
Matchball Sponsor: Richard Petty
Club Sponsor: Bridges Estate Agents