Dogged Aldershot Town hailed by boss ScottBy Jon Couch
March 04, 2013
NEW boss Andy Scott heaped praise on his Aldershot Town side after they came within a whisker of shattering Gillingham's record-breaking away run at the EBB Stadium on Saturday.
Leaders Gills have won 11 and lost just one of their 17 matches on the road this season as they charge relentlessly towards the League Two title.
But they were given the fright of their lives by a resurgent Shots who took a deserved lead through Craig Reid's fine 47th-minute strike, only for the visitors to steal a share of the spoils 15 minutes from time with their very first effort on target all afternoon through giant defender Leon Legge.
Despite stretching their unbeaten run to five matches, Scott admitted his side were left dejected in the dressing room afterwards, convinced they had missed an opportunity to make a huge statement of intent to their rivals in a now congested relegation battle.
But satisfied Scott did not agree and set about lifting chins off the floor and hailing his troops for what he saw as a point gained rather than two dropped.
"I walked into the dressing room afterwards and the lads were a bit down," Scott explained.
"But I've told them that the fact we are disappointed to get a draw against the league leaders with an away record such as theirs shows just how far we've come.
"The goal we conceded wasn't great but when you are having to deal with a bombardment of long throws, you have to stand up and be counted and we did that.
"In the second half we had that bit more quality on the ball, scored a good goal and we were reasonably comfortable.
"They then scored and we had a little wobble for a couple of minutes but it was a terrific point, well earned and well deserved, and I don't think anyone watching would have thought it was us at the bottom half of the table and them at the top."
Roared on by their impressive 1,000-strong away following, the Gills simply flew out of the traps and penned the Shots into their own area for the opening few exchanges before Deon Burton fired the first effort into the side-netting from 10 yards.
The hosts though soon weathered the early storm and came close to breaking the deadlock themselves - Reid's flicked header from Ben Herd's delivery wrong-footed keeper Stuart Nelson, but not an unsuspecting Legge who put his body on the line to make a crucial block.
Danny Rose's rasping 25-yard effort stung the palms of Nelson on 25 minutes, while Oliver Risser came within a whisker of the upright with a fierce 20-yarder after good work by Peter Vincenti down the left.
Finally, Aldershot's pressure told two minutes into the second half. A long ball into the box was chested down by Hylton under pressure from Legge, and the ball ran to Reid who took a touch and rifled a shot from 15 yards into the top near corner.
In truth, the expected response from Gillingham never really arrived and if anything it was Aldershot who looked the more likely to strike again.
Hylton was making a menace of himself in the Gills box, forcing desperate defending, while both Vincenti and Reid had efforts blocked.
Then, completely out of the blue, with their first serious effort on goal all afternoon, Gillingham were level.
Following a mistake from an Aldershot throw-in midway through the Gills' territory, the ball ended up at the feet of dangerman Chris Whelpdale.
The right winger stole a yard on Anthony Tonkin, floated over a cross and Legge - brought out of non-league football by Scott when manager of Brentford - climbed highest to guide a header inside the near post.
The Gills almost rubbed salt into the wounds 90 seconds later when Whelpdale again found space to centre from the right, finding Danny Kedwell free at the far post, but his firm downward header was brilliantly kept out by a sprawling Jamie Young before Terrell Forbes bravely threw himself to block the rebound.
In response, Scott demonstrated his attacking intent by throwing on a third striker in Jeff Goulding for Vincenti, but despite their best efforts, a winner was not forthcoming.
ALDERSHOT: Young, Herd, Tonkin, Forbes, Bradley, Risser, Rose, Vincenti (Goulding 82), Cadogan (A Morris 90), Hylton, Reid. Subs: Lancashire, Mekki, Stanley, Hall, G Morris.
Ref: Steven Rushden. Att: 3,267 (981).