Show of Shots support is music to Holdsworth's earsBy Jon Couch
October 16, 2012
SIX straight defeats and stuck in the League 2 relegation zone - it's fair to say Dean Holdsworth has enjoyed happier times as Aldershot Town manager.
Berated by some sections of an expectant home crowd last week, the Shots boss was left with his head in his hands again as his team were swept aside by rampant league leaders Gillingham in another rather forgettable afternoon at Priestfield.
Awaiting his fate at the final whistle, the dejected Shots boss slumped down deeper into his dugout seat, contemplating his next move in recovering from his "toughest spell as a manager" as he has reluctantly described it.
Suddenly, however, the Shots boss was offered a welcome, if not unlikely pick-me-up from the 188 loyal supporters who had made the relatively short trip to the Medway town.
"Don't worry... 'bout a thing... cos every li'l thing is gonna be alright" was the faintly-delivered lyric coming from the uncovered Brian Moore Stand to Holdsworth's right, sung languidly in true Bob Marley style.
Light-hearted banter maybe, but that show of faith will be music to the ears of Holdsworth and his fragile squad of players, who need every ally possible in a bid to get out of this mess.
Yes, a 4-0 defeat on the road does not look particularly encouraging on paper, but the truth was Holdsworth and his troops can still take plenty of positives from their trip to Priestfield to channel ahead of their next big test - this Saturday's visit of Rotherham United.
On this form, it is easy to see why the Gills are three points clear at the top the table with the scoreline perhaps about par in the difference between a team playing with an abundance of confidence and one playing with very little.
Still, however, Holdsworth's men did not stop battling and having fashioned out three glorious opportunities to add respectability to the scoreline late on, they earned the praise of their manager.
"This is the best side we've come up against so far," Holdsworth admitted. "The Gillingham forwards caused us problems and we did not get tight enough to them. Yet again we are suffering through people not doing their jobs properly and it's cost us.
"We asked them at half time to show some character and pride and play for the fans that travelled here.
"I'm pleased that we dug in and showed some character in the second half because it would have been easy to roll over, but it was too big a mountain to climb.
"There were signs for me that they haven't given in and still believe in their ability, but confidence is key and we have to find the level of confidence that Gillingham played with.
In all honesty, the odds were stacked well against Holdsworth and his troops ending a 40-year winless streak at Priestfield from the start, although the arrival of Danny Rose, on loan from Fleetwood, did seem to add an extra attacking dimension to the Shots midfield.
Rose joined Troy Brown in the middle of the park as Holdsworth stuck to his favoured 4-2-3-1 formation with Aaron Morris moving over to left back to replace the injured Anthony Tonkin.
Chances fell to both sides in the opening exchanges, Chris Whelpdale heading wide for Gills and Danny Hylton over the bar for Shots – both from in-swinging corners.
But it was the Gills who took first blood on 10 minutes - another corner half-cleared to Whelpdale on the edge of the box, his fierce first-time effort producing a fantastic reaction save from Jamie Young.
But Charlie Allen, son of manager Martin Allen, bundled home his first goal for the club at the second attempt despite the desperate attempts of Morris on the goal line.
By now the Gills' front pair of Danny Kedwell and Myles Weston were causing the Shots defence all sorts of problems and it was not long before their pressure finally took its toll.
Kedwell made it 2-0 from the penalty spot on 26 minutes after his cross struck the arm of the wrong-footed Sonny Bradley in the box and the former AFC Wimbledon striker lashed the resulting spot kick straight down the middle of Young's goal.
Thirteen minutes later, Weston got in on the act, latching onto Kedwell's knock down, easily turning inside a back-tracking Bradley and rifling the ball past the out-stretched Young at his near post.
Shots' top scorer Craig Reid produced a top drawer diving save from Stuart Nelson at the other end just before the interval and that seemed to galvanise the Shots at the re-start, Hylton causing panic in the Gills' box with a goalbound shot which cannoned off Tony Flanagan.
But all Aldershot's efforts looked to be in vain on 67 minutes when the Gills netted a fourth. Substitute Andy Frampton cut inside Adam Mekki from the left and squared the ball to Whelpdale, who rolled the ball past Young and in off the post.
To their credit, the Shots kept plugging away and might have notched more than one consolation in an impressive late surge - Hylton firing wide, Vincenti's header just eluding the on-rushing Reid and new boy Rose also nearly capping his debut with a goal from 25 yards, only for Nelson to tip his effort round the post.
Downbeat Holdsworth trudged off with plenty to ponder, but not before making a point of insisting his players applaud the suffering fans for their efforts.
ALDERSHOT: Young, Herd, Rose, Branston, Bradley, A Morris, Brown, Vincenti, Mekki (Payne 78), Hylton, Reid (Rankine 85). Subs: Lancashire, Bergqvist, Anderson, Donnelly, G Morris.
Ref: Mark Haywood. Att: 5,039 (188).