Holdsworth hails Mekki as magic for Aldershot TownBy Jon Couch
February 23, 2012
DEAN HOLDSWORTH says young sensation Adam Mekki can be an "absolute diamond" for Aldershot Town after he proved the inspiration behind another midweek glory night which, the boss believes, ranks alongside the feeling of the Manchester United and West Ham cup classics.
Homegrown academy star Mekki stole the show as the impressive Shots put league leaders Southend United to the sword on the way to securing a fourth straight league win.
The 20-year-old winger netted his first ever senior goal and then won the penalty which led to Josh Payne scoring the second as Aldershot continued their recent resurgence and impressive climb up the League Two table.
In fact, Holdsworth's men are now closer to the play-off places than they are the relegation zone, and if Tuesday night’s display against the side who boasted the best away record in the division is anything to go by, then the Shots could yet have a say in the promotion picture.
Along with fellow scorer Payne, Mekki has proved to be one of Holdsworth’s biggest successes during a month in which he was forced to reshuffle his pack following a flurry of big-name departures.
Despite having made just seven first-team starts, Mekki is already attracting some admiring glances from afar, but Holdsworth insisted the youngster would not be getting carried away with his new-found status.
“On his day he can be a match winner,” the manager said. “We let Jermaine go with a view to bringing Adam through and I’ve got a lot of belief in him. He could be an absolute diamond for this club.
“It’s one thing performing like that though, you have to do it again, again and again. Consistency is the key and I believe he's got it.
"He's got a lot to learn and he won't be getting carried away, but he loves the lads and the lads love him so we're all pretty happy with him at the moment.”
Mekki's moment to savour came after 26 magic minutes of high-tempo football from Aldershot – albeit with a touch of fortune thrown in.
Having already terrorised the Southend defence, the wide man jinked his way into the penalty area before seeing his effort take a wicked deflection off Mark Phillips and spin into the net off the far post.
In fact, the Shots could, and should, have doubled their lead just 60 seconds later when Payne brilliantly played in Danny Hylton, but his decision to roll the ball past on-rushing goalkeeper Glen Morris rather than chip him, robbed him of the chance.
The Shots continued where they left off after the break with Peter Vincenti just failing to finish Guy Madjo's shot across the face of goal, and Aaron Morris, fresh from scoring his first Aldershot goal – the winner in a 1-0 victory at Macclesfield on Saturday – firing just wide from the edge of the box.
But on 64 minutes the Shots got the cushion they deserved, and, unsurprisingly, it was Mekki at the heart of the matter, racing through to collect Payne’s flick-on, only to have his ankles clipped by the sprawling Shrimpers keeper just inside the box. Payne made no mistake from the penalty spot.
In contrast, league front-runners Southend showed precious little – in fact they did not register a shot on target all night.
Tame headers which sailed over the bar from Elliot Benyon and Bilel Mohsni never looked like troubling Ross Worner.
Mekki’s night ended with a standing ovation from the admiring EBB faithful, although the man-of-the-match champagne which he should have celebrated with somehow ended up in the grateful hands of a no-doubt embarrassed Danny Hylton.
Either way, Holdsworth did not care as his whole squad deserved their share of the bubbly on a memorable night which ranks among the proudest of his managerial career.
“Before the game we spoke about this being bigger than West Ham and bigger than Manchester United,” Holdsworth said.
“I really respect Southend. They are a tough team, they are where they are on merit but I have a lot of respect for my boys tonight.
“Tonight we've moved up another gear in confidence. They earned their three points and were the better side on the night.
“There is a good feeling in that dressing room and confidence is key and a desire to keep clean sheets. There is a strong belief but I don't want to get carried away and I want to quietly tip-toe through teams and see where we can get to. We are in a powerful place at the moment.”
With four wins already sealed, the boss will be looking to complete a five-star show when the Shots host Barnet this Saturday (February 25).
ALDERSHOT: Worner, Herd, Straker, Jones, Bradley, Morris, Payne, Vincenti (Risser 77), Mekki (Smith 82), Hylton, Madjo (Brown 63). Subs: Young, Connolly.