Shots stunned as Gulls rain on Reid's paradeBy Jon Couch
October 04, 2012
Torquay United 4-3 Aldershot Town
THEY describe the English Riviera as the ‘Perfect Place to Visit’ but there was certainly no fun in the sun for Dean Holdsworth and his Aldershot Town troops on Tuesday night after what turned out to be a wretched trip to south Devon.
For 46 minutes Plainmoor was paradise for the Shots as a sublime hat-trick from hitman Craig Reid – the first ever by an Aldershot Town player in the Football League – left them on the cusp of a third away success in the south-west this season.
Suddenly, however, the heavenly view turned into a scene from Holidays From Hell as Torquay somehow hit back with four goals in the rain-sodden conditions to cruelly snatch victory from under Aldershot's noses, sealed by Rene Howe's dramatic last-minute winner.
This, coupled with the equally agonising defeat at Accrington and the 2-0 reverse at home to York City on Saturday, makes it three straight defeats for the Shots, who have now slid perilously into the bottom five in the table.
But Holdsworth, ever the optimist, insists there are plenty of positives to take from Tuesday night to and is backing his side to bounce back in time for this Saturday’s visit of Chesterfield.
“We have been punished by a decent side,” he said. “They had to work for three of the goals and we switched off for one of them.
“We have come away from home and scored three good goals and an excellent first half display. I have so much belief in the players but we have got to learn very quickly because you get punished for switching off.
“We are all together and disappointed with the result but we have to take the good things that came from the match with the attacking play that we had.”
In a region proud of its mild climate and longer summers, fitting it was that the wet and windy conditions were to play such a decisive role.
As it was, it was Aldershot who benefitted in the first half, using the weather to their advantage and taking the game to their hosts from the off.
Reid’s first sniff at goal causing panic in the Gulls penalty box before Guy Branston, recalled by Holdsworth for his first league start of the season against his former club, drew a fantastic save from Michael Poke with a well-directed header.
Howe then let Aldershot off the hook by firing high and wide when put through by Lee Mansell – and was soon made to pay when the Shots took the lead. The impressive Alex Rodman floated over a free-kick from the left and Reid popped up to guide the ball past the out-stretched Poke with a glancing header.
Scott Donnelly twice went close to doubling the advantage with fierce efforts from range, but the dominant Shots weren’t to be denied a second by the break – Joe Oastler bundling over Danny Hylton in the box and Reid coolly slotting home the resulting penalty into the net.
And just as Torquay were regrouping after a dressing room dust down, Hylton fed strike partner Reid from the left and the former Stevenage man drilled a shot low and hard past the helpless Poke - this just 16 seconds into the re-start.
Cue sunglasses and knotted hankies so you’d think...well, not quite as there was still time for the tide to turn.
A little over a minute later, keeper Jamie Young kept the Gulls a bay with a fantastic double save, but it was all in vain as Billy Bodin pounced to convert the third attempt.
Then, with a little over an hour gone, Ryan Jervis climbed off the substitute’s bench and made an immediate impact, latching onto Howe's ball from the left at the far post to reduce the deficit to 3-2. Game on indeed.
Kevin Nicholson forced a tremendous one-handed save from a back-pedalling Young with a swirling effort from all of 60 yards which seemed destined for the net.
Finally, however, the pressure told and with six minutes left a short corner caught the visitors cold and Mansell’s cross was converted by substitute Ashley Yeoman.
With the crowd, conditions and indeed the momentum behind them, the Gulls piled forward in search of a dramatic winner.
Aldershot defended resolutely but with the clock ticking towards the 90-minute mark, the pressure became too much. Howe, a threat throughout, was given too much time and space in cutting in from the left and he unleashed a vicious effort from just inside the area to beat Young at his near post and spark jubilant scenes.
On their knees and with heads bowed, the Shots looked a picture of gloom, but upbeat Holdsworth insisted he will be able to lift spirits for Saturday’s visit of the Spireites.
“We picked the players up from the weekend and we have to do the same now for Saturday,” he said. “There were some good performances out there.”
SHOTS: Young, Herd, Tonkin, Branston, Lancashire, Brown (Appiah 90), A Morris, Donnelly, Rodman, Hylton (Rankine 72), Reid (Anderson 87). Subs: G Morris, Bradley, Payne, Cadogan.
Ref: Stuart Attwell. Att: 2,358 (109 Aldershot).