Danny Hylton vows to be Shots' Middle manBy Jon Couch
January 24, 2013
RELIEVED Danny Hylton admits he has been handed a lucky let-off in being freed to face Middlesbrough in the FA Cup fourth round on Saturday – and has vowed to repay his Aldershot Town team-mates and supporters with another match-winning display.
The Shots striker, top scorer in this season’s competition with seven goals from three games, is only available for the trip to the Riverside thanks to the mammoth efforts from ground staff in beating the big freeze and getting the last two league fixtures played against all odds.
Hylton’s hopes of continuing his FA Cup journey appeared to be over after he was sent off for kicking out at Rotherham United’s Jason Taylor in the last round, which would have ordinarily ruled him for the clash against Tony Mowbray’s Championship giants.
But the Shots gave their star striker a glimmer of hope by rescheduling their home game with Northampton Town for Tuesday night (January 22) - thus completing Hylton’s three-match ban - but with forecasted heavy snow set to decimate the football programme, hope was all it was.
Hylton’s first stroke of luck, however, came on Saturday when round-the-clock work from York City’s ground staff ensured the game at Bootham Crescent went ahead as planned – the Shots battling to a 0-0 draw after an arduous seven-hour cross-country journey involving planes, trains and automobiles in wretched conditions.
“We had Rodders [Alex Rodman, on loan at York] on weather watch for us on Friday and, to be honest, I didn’t think the game would be on,” Hylton admitted.
“A lot of time and effort went into getting up to York but thankfully though the groundsman did wonders and in the end the boys said the pitch was in good condition, so I was very happy.”
So, one down one to go for the Shots striker in his Riverside mission and Hylton was at the EBB Stadium himself on Monday, joining the ground staff and a number of volunteers in shovelling snow to ensure the Tuesday night match also got the go-ahead.
Three hours before kick-off and the hard work looked to have paid off until a snowstorm in the build-up prompted 11th-hour panic and came within a whisker of dashing Hylton’s hopes, only for referee Darren Deadman to come to his aid.
“We must be one of the only teams in the Football League to have both games on,” Hylton added.
“I appreciate the work everyone has done to get the games on and appreciate the boys going out and playing in that, they were horrible conditions, it could have easily got called off.
“[Helping out] was the right thing to do. It's not to say I'm going to walk straight into the team on Saturday but I’ve got a chance of being available and if I wanted volunteers to go there and shovel up some snow I thought it was only right that I went and did my bit. It was good fun actually.
“I arrived at the ground in good spirits, hoping to get three points and looking forward to the game on Saturday but then come half past four big snow clouds came over and it was pretty bad, wasn't it?
“Luckily Nunny [Andy Nunn, groundmsan] and everyone helped to get the game on. I tried to stay positive but I didn't think the game would go ahead, they were horrible conditions.”
With a hat-trick against Rotherham and braces against Fleetwood and Hendon, Hylton has scored three more goals than any other player in the tournament so far this season and has twice been nominated for FA Cup Player of the Round – winning the award for his second-round heroics at Fleetwood.
Now the Shots’ No.10 can set his sights on Middlesbrough – and has warned Boro boss Mowbray that he doesn’t intend to waste his opportunity.
“Middlesbrough is a big club and it’s a nice stadium,” Hylton said. “It’s a bit like West Ham last season, we’ll go there as underdogs, it’s a big day out for us and a nice occasion.
“But like West Ham we should not be taken lightly because it’s 11 versus 11 and we want to win and we’ll go there believing we can win.
“I feel I’ve been let off after that silliness, I won’t be doing that again. It could have been more costly – it might still be, I might not be in the team to play Middlesbrough, that’s down to the gaffer – but I’m happy to be available and travelling and to play some part in the game.”
Holdsworth, himself, admitted he was happy to have his strike ace available, adding: “It will always benefit us having Danny Hylton in our squad, it’s a massive game for us.
“We moved the game to the first available date and it was fortunate, for Danny also, that we managed to get it on.
“He frustrates you sometimes with silliness like that but it’s a learning curve for him and when you’ve got strikers like Danny Hylton and Craig Reid available it’s bound to give you a boost as they are two of the best strikers in the division.”