Only way is up for optimistic Shots boss HoldsworthBy Jon Couch
November 08, 2012
DEAN HOLDSWORTH saw 10-man Aldershot Town plunge to the bottom of the Football League with another home blank, but insisted: "I’m still not worried."
The Shots boss hailed his side for a gutsy and resilient display which saw them outplay and outfight fellow strugglers Wycombe in a 0-0 draw, despite playing for over an hour with 10 men following the dismissal of left-back Anthony Tonkin for a second booking.
Despite glorious chances falling for Peter Vincenti and Craig Reid, who saw his effort blocked inadvertently on the goal-line by strike partner Danny Hylton, it proved to be another one of those nights for the goal-starved EBB faithful, who have still only seen two home league goals in their own back yard this term.
But, coupled with Barnet’s 1-0 victory over Torquay, it also culminated in the Shots sinking to the bottom of the League Two table for the first time – not that it bothered a determined Holdsworth, whose thoughts now turn to Saturday’s next home encounter against Bradford City (ko 3pm).
“I don’t want to be negative, I want to be positive and say that’s a massive point for us,” Holdsworth beamed.
“[Being bottom] is not nice, I don't want to be there, but it doesn't mean anything. We are among a cluster of teams down there who are on losing streaks, we’re not, we’ve come away from ours!
“At the end of the season that will be a massive point for us. The records will only say 0-0, but that result shows great character. That’s four games unbeaten now and it shows that we have come away from where we were.
“I thought we were fantastic, all the tempo and impetus was generated by us and we were looking really strong.
“We showed some fantastic character, good discipline and a massive desire.
“If we’d have scored that all-important first goal when it was 11 v 11, which we should have done, then we would have been talking about three points.”
Holdsworth also defended his decision to sacrifice livewire winger Keiron Cadogan following Tonkin’s dismissal which was met with disapproval by large sections of the home faithful sitting behind the dug-out in the North Stand.
With his blistering pace down the right wing, the Crystal Palace loanee had torn Wycombe to shreads in the opening half an hour and looked Aldershot’s most likely source of success.
Holdsworth explained: “You have to make decisions and it was the right decision to make. We had to make sure we went 4-4-1 and moved the personnel around. It’s a good job we know what we are doing.
“It was a tough call but you can’t put Aaron Morris left wing, you need a left-back. I had to make sure we still had a threat with Craig Reid, Peter [Vincenti] was giving us a good outlet with his aerial strengths, we had to sacrifice someone.”
Cadogan, in only his second start for the Shots, was behind all of Aldershot's best moves early on, carving out a number of good opportunities. First he fed Hylton down the right, whose cross found the unmarked Vincenti at the far post but his downward header was well held by Jordan Archer.
Then, Cadogan floated over an inch-perfect cross from the right which again found Vincenti unmarked. His initial effort was blocked by Archer, as was his follow-up, but Reid slammed the loose ball straight at Hylton on the goal-line and Wanderers gratefully cleared.
Cadogan’s night, however, was about to suffer a premature end when referee David Phillips turned the game on its head on 31 minutes.
Tonkin, already booked for a soft foul on player/boss Gareth Ainsworth, took out the Chairboys' chief again on right hand side of the box, prompting Mr Phillips to brandish a second yellow then a red, much to the dismay of the home crowd.
Cadogan's exit was met with a chorus of jeers by disgruntled fans, but there was also an air of sympathy for the Shots boss, who had a tough call to make. Positionally, Cadogan was the obvious candidate, but you couldn’t help but wonder whether his natural pace out wide would have unlocked the door at some point.
As it was, the ten-man Shots were doing a pretty good job of that without him, maintaining the tempo of the game and keeping the pressure on. Vincenti’s cross from the right produced a desperate clearance from the evergreen Ainsworth, although the Shots themselves were indebted to a fine save from Jamie Young at the other end in denying the 39-year-old from 30 yards.
Holdsworth introduced wide man Rob Sinclair from the bench after he re-joined the club on loan from Stevenage earlier in the day, but it was in-form Hylton who provided the main threat, and he almost found a way through from Morris’ long through ball but Archer was alert and charged down his attempted lob.
As time ticked on though, Wycombe gave the odd reminder that they were never out of the contest and within ex-Shot Joel Grant and substitute Junior Morais looking dangerous on the counter, the Shots faithful could never rest easy.
Indeed, they came close themselves with substitute Junior Morais heading Josh Scowen’s free-kick just wide, while Young again performed heroics to brilliantly turn round Matt Spring's fiercely-struck free-kick to keep parity restored and leave the Shots with a point in tact.
ALDERSHOT: Young, Herd, Tonkin, Brown, Bradley, Payne, Vincenti, Rose, Hylton, Cadogan (Morris 32), Reid (Sinclair 74). Subs: Rankine, Branston, Donnelly, Munns, G Morris. Ref: David Phillips.