Aldershot Town beat Fleetwood in FA CupBy Graham Brookland
December 03, 2012
A DAY packed with emotion and drama saw Aldershot Town progress into the third round of the FA Cup for only the second time since the reformation of the club, with a well-deserved victory over League Two high-fliers Fleetwood Town.
Few inside Highbury Stadium on Saturday afternoon would deny that the visitors earned their 3-2 victory - a result that stretched their unbeaten away record to five matches and, ultimately, cost Cod Army boss Mickey Mellon his job in an alarming and surprising twist to the tale an hour after the match.
There would not have been many either to deny the Shots a lucrative third-round draw as reward, but hopes of a dream tie against one of the big boys were dashed when Dean Holdsworth's men, ball 64 of 64, were handed a home clash against League Two rivals Rotherham United or Notts County, of League One, who fought out a 1-1 stalemate at the New York Stadium on Saturday.
Instead, all the emotion was saved for Aldershot midfielder Peter Vincenti. The 26-year-old Jersey man had been informed by goalkeeping coach Ashley Bayes prior to kick-off that his good friend and former Stevenage team-mate Mitchell Cole had passed away suddenly the previous evening at the age of just 27.
The fact that Vincenti was able to play was a tribute to his professionalism. His overall contribution, however, was immense and a stunning strike just before the interval proved the perfect foil for Aldershot to set down their platform to go on and secure a massive victory.
Few would have predicted the eventual outcome in this encounter when Junior Brown edged the home side in front with a scrappy close range finish on 11 minutes, with the visiting defence struggling to deal with the delivery from Alan Goodall.
The lead lasted just seven minutes though. Defender Troy Brown laid a ball over the halfway line which allowed Craig Reid, a welcome return to the starting line-up after injury, to work the ball into the path of Danny Hylton.
A precise left-footed strike from 18 yards beat the diving Scott Davies in the home goal for pace. Hylton’s link up play with Reid posed problems throughout the contest.
In truth Aldershot rarely looked back from the leveller. They produced a good tempo to their approach play, with the introduction of Reading loanee Michael Hector providing an energy and presence to the centre of midfield.
Kieron Cadogan struck from close range while Vincenti, unmarked at the far post, angled a header wide.
Vincenti was destined to score though. He struck a terrific 30-yard free kick just before the interval which forced Davies to his right to scramble off the line.
However, it was that first-half stoppage time screamer which had the fans talking. A loose ball had been played away from danger only for Vincenti to strike sweetly first time into the top right-hand corner of the net. He ran directly to the Shots dugout to celebrate with raw emotion in memory of his pal.
Fleetwood switched style after the break in pursuit of the equaliser and, as expected, retained plenty of possession without producing any notable penetration.
Left-back Anthony Tonkin did bravely block former Peterborough United striker David Ball’s effort but chances were at a premium.
With 15 minutes remaining Hylton took advantage of hesitancy from central defender Steve McNulty before rounding the advancing Davies on the right edge of the penalty box and slotting the ball home into an empty net.
It should have been game, set and match but Shots supporters have grown accustomed to their nerves.
With just two minutes remaining Ball did take advantage in bizarre circumstances as Jamie Young was forced backwards after misjudging a deflected shot. He managed to palm the ball off the line but in connecting with it only managed to force it into the path of the home striker.
There were some tense moments in a five-minute injury time, not least when Jamie Milligan’s 20 yarder crept just wide of the far post but boss Holdsworth’s men had contributed too much in this contest to let it slip.
A delighted Holdsworth spoke passionately about his players. He said: “They were magnificent. We were disciplined and resolute throughout and we fully deserved the victory. They showed fantastic character.
“Peter’s goal was something else. I need to say this. Peter lost his friend Mitchell Cole and was informed before the match. I want to dedicate this goal and victory on behalf of Peter and the club to Mitchell’s family.
"Peter was really upset at lunchtime and I am sure Mitchell would be proud of what Peter produced out there”.
ALDERSHOT: Young, Herd, Tonkin, A Morris, Brown, Hylton (Bergqvist 90), Vincenti, Reid (Payne 70), Bradley, Cadogan (Sinclair 81), Hector. Not used: Mekki, G Morris, Cooksley, Roberts.
Ref: Phil Gibbs. Att: 1,757.