Holdsworth hails Aldershot's 'perfect response'By Jon Couch
March 15, 2012
DEAN HOLDSWORTH heaped praise on his Aldershot Town side for giving the “perfect response” to Saturday's horror show at Northampton by battling for a 2-2 draw to further frustrate faltering Crawley.
Holdsworth gave his side a dressing room dust-down after a series of defensive errors and a powerpuff display culminated in a 3-1 defeat at Sixfields over the weekend.
Yet he was positively glowing about his side's resilience at Broadfield Stadium on Tuesday night with his Shots more than playing their part in a highly-charged affair, which brought controversy and no fewer than nine yellow cards – seven of which for Aldershot.
Goals from Aaron Morris and Peter Vincenti, either side of Gary Alexander's penalty, looked like handing Holdsworth's men a hard-earned three points until Billy Clarke popped up to restore parity for the Red Devils with three minutes remaining.
But it might have been even better for the Shots had substitutes Guy Madjo and Vincenti taken their chances in a dramatic six minutes of added time.
Holdsworth said: “To come here and be disappointed not to have won is testament to the way the players have worked hard and performed. It was a great response from the weekend, a brilliant effort. It's right to be disappointed but it's also right to be happy with the performance.
“After a rollicking by me, the last place you want to come to usually is Crawley – if you haven’t got a heart that is. But these players have got hearts, they've got spirit and they’ve got character and I’m delighted with them.”
The only negative of the night for Holdsworth was the sight of Adam Mekki being helped off with an ankle injury, which will almost definitely rule him out of tomorrow's visit of Bradford City and possibly for longer, depending on the results of an X-ray.
Unsurprisingly after Saturday's defeat, Holdsworth rung in the changes but still sprung a few surprises in his starting line-up, not least with Wilko Risser coming in for his first start ahead of the in-form Madjo.
Michael Doughty also came in for his first start, against his former club, while new loan signing Rob Sinclair – drafted in from Stevenage with Darren Murphy heading back – took his place on the bench.
But if Holdsworth wanted a response it didn't take him long to get one. Just over four minutes had ticked by on the clock when good work from Mekki opened up the Crawley defence, the ball fell to Morris who found the corner of the net with a low shot from 20 yards.
The Shots clearly had Crawley rattled. Both Claude Davis and Warren Cummins were booked for cynical fouls on Risser and Mekki respectively, while fiery Red Devils boss Steve Evans barked orders furiously from his dug-out.
Hylton then forced an instinctive save from Rene Gilmartin from close range, but just when it looked like the Shots were beginning to turn the screw, Crawley were handed a lifeline.
Lloyd James’ free-kick into the box caused panic in the penalty area, Risser was penalised for clumsily leaning on the back of Davis and Gary Alexander coolly slotted home his first goal for Crawley from the spot.
This lifted the increasingly downbeat Broadfield crowd and kicked Crawley into gear.
Jamie Young was forced into a fine save from Billy Clarke, following a neat one-two with Shaun Batt, and from the resulting corner, Ben Herd was forced to clear off his own goal-line with ex-Aldershot man Scott Davies' centre swirling in the night breeze.
Mekki's worrying-looking injury brought Vincenti into the fray just before the break, but the impetus was still with the hosts after the break and the Shots were fortunate not to concede again.
Clarke somehow headed Davies' cross wide at the far post when unmarked, while Batt’s cross-shot suffered the same fate, albeit with the aid of a slight deflection.
And they were made to pay when the Shots reclaimed the lead on 63 minutes. Anthony Straker's dangerous ball into the box was cut out by McFadzean and Vincenti smashed the loose ball into the top corner from 12 yards.
All of a sudden the doom and gloom returned among the locals and booming Evans raised his voice a few more octaves as the hosts upped the tempo.
Then, out of nowhere, they got the break they barely deserved. Davies’ crossed from the left, McFadzean just beat Payne to the ball and Clarke popped up six yards out and he poked the ball past Young.
Crawley pushed for the winner but it was the Shots who came closest to nicking it – not once but twice.
First Madjo was put clean through via a sublime ball from Sinclair, but couldn't quite get the ball from under his feet and get free from the attentions of McFadzean.
Then, a minute later, Gilmartin made a point-blank save to deny Madjo, the ball ran free to Vincenti, who shot wide.
It wasn’t to be, but Holdsworth had no complaints – and even insisted that a late surge for a play-off place still wasn't out of the question.
“This is a tough place to come,” he added. “They put you under all sorts of pressure, it comes from the bench, it comes from the crowd, everywhere. You've got to be professional and I’m delighted with the players, they’ve earned it.
“The games come thick and fast now with two games in four days, it’s a tough ask of the players with what they’ve been through. There’s a lot of tired players out there but we’ll give it everything we’ve got because you never know, we are only eight points off of Oxford.”
ALDERSHOT: Young, Herd, Straker, Jones, Bradley, Morris, Payne, Doughty (Sinclair 84), Mekki (Vincenti 45), Hylton, Risser (Madjo 73). Subs: Connolly, Clement.
Ref: David Phillips. Att: 3,017 (452 Aldershot).