Cobblers for Holdsworth as Robinson haunt ShotsBy Graham Brookland
December 24, 2012
A GOAL from former Shots' loanee Jake Robinson four minutes after coming on as a half-time substitute set Northampton Town on the road to victory at a rain-sodden Sixfields on Saturday, in one of only two League Two matches to go ahead as atrocious weather took its toll across the country.
Aldershot Town, who had not lost on the road for more than two months, were left ruing a host of clear-cut chances, while Robinson’s opener and an injury-time lobbed effort from Clive Platt earned the Cobblers a flattering victory to bring the Shots' recent revival grinding to a halt.
Boss Dean Holdsworth told the News & Mail afterwards: “We created more one on ones in this match than in any other game this season. We have to be clinical though and we missed chances in front of goal which is unlike us but we passed the ball very well and opened them up.
“However I have to be pleased with the performance under the circumstances. We were excellent in many areas and we deserved something from this game.”
Indeed Holdsworth heaped praise on his players as he was forced to revamp his backline due to injury and suspension while naming inspirational goalkeeper Jamie Young as captain for the first time.
Youth team product Doug Bergqvist stepped in impressively for his first-ever league start, replacing suspended skipper Ben Herd, meaning that three of the Aldershot back four were born in the year the club were formed or later, with stand-in left back Aaron Morris the veteran at 22.
Holdsworth also named three youth team players on the bench including captain Adam Brice, midfielder Bobby Webbe and 16-year-old Matt Rudolph.
Seizing an opportunity, Northampton looked lively in the early stages and bombarded their opponents’ goal, but were unable to capitalise as Holdsworth’s fledgling back line attempted to breed familiarity.
That said, the absence of their own powerhouse striker Adebayo Akinfenwa, a regular thorn in Aldershot’s side, due to suspension, proved to be a huge loss to Aidy Boothroyd’s men.
Young forced Chris Hackett’s header away from danger before Ishmel Demontagnac’s low drive was deflected for a corner in a packed penalty area. Influential skipper Kelvin Langmead also came close as an early goal appeared inevitable.
Credit to Holdsworth’s men though as they adapted well as the first half progressed and showed able signs of intent in an entertaining contest.
Danny Hylton found space from Rob Sinclair’s switch, striking low and just wide from 20 yards, before producing a far post header from Kieran Cadogan’s centre which sailed inches past Lee Nicholls.
Robinson, however, showed his potency in two loan spells at the EBB Stadium under Terry Brown and then Gary Waddock and is an intelligent player. Bizarrely for such a calm and composed figure he had not scored a league goal for his employers at home since his arrival last season.
Even so when he latched onto an excellent through ball from former Newcastle United defender Ben Tozer you always sensed that the 26-year-old was favourite to end that sequence, and he did so in style with a fierce strike that whisked across Young into the bottom left hand corner of the net.
Aldershot responded well though but, not for the first time, it was the finishing that was the missing link. Hylton had time to execute from eight yards when, unmarked, he sliced the ball wide with his left foot.
Loanee Dani Lopez, already with four goals to his name during his brief spell at the club, should have extended the stats sheet only to fire wide from close range from Danny Rose’s excellent initiation.
The best opportunity, however, came midway through the second half when Hylton and Lopez broke free with only one Cobblers defender at the helm. They linked up well but Hylton’s final shot from the edge of the penalty area was too direct and Nicholls was able to force the ball away from danger.
Hylton had a further opportunity soon after and was odds-on to score with Nicholls exposed only to be denied by a tremendous saving sliding challenge from winger Hackett who was the only player who could catch the 23-year-old.
It was all a touch cruel on Holdsworth’s men when deep in injury time they conceded a soft second goal. Nicholls punted the ball directly down field. Hesitancy on the edge of the 18-yard box from the two central defenders allowed the experienced Platt in to lob the ball over the helpless Young.
It was a tidy finish from the former Coventry City striker to condemn the visitors to defeat in a match where they created the better chances.
It was a point Hylton noted afterwards. He told the News & Mail: “I should have done better with my first chance. With the conditions it was difficult to judge the ground as I didn’t know if the ball would slip away from me or stick.
"There are no excuses though. The right winger [Hackett] was so quick to get back to deny me too. If it had been any other player I think that I would have scored.”
After Boxing Day’s home clash with bottom club Bristol Rovers, the Shots host Torquay United on Saturday before making the trip to Barnet on New Years’ Day.
SHOTS: Young, Bergqvist, Hector, Bradley, A Morris, Cadogan (Roberts 90), Sinclair, Rose, Hylton, Lopez, Reid (Mekki 79). Not used: Madjo, G Morris, Webbe, Rudolph, Brice.
Ref: Tim Robinson.