Fasten your seatbelts and get ready for the ride – this relegation rollercoaster is showing no signs of relenting.
With the side pilloried for a powderpuff performance at Tamworth on Saturday, the Aldershot Town “doom-mongers” – as described by boss Andy Scott – were already consigned to defeat and facing the harsh reality of back-to-back demotions.
But, after a totally contrasting display filled with passion and pride just four days later, suddenly Andy Scott’s men are back in the hunt and come armed with a message to their rivals that their battle for survival isn’t ready to hit the buffers just yet.
Predatory finishes in each half from striker Brett Williams – taking his tally to 24 for the season – proved more than enough to hand the Shots a first league home win of 2014 and take them to within one point of safety.
But with several more twists and turns undoubtedly yet to come – starting with a home double header against Nuneaton and Kidderminster this week – Scott, although clearly relieved, is keeping his feet firmly on the ground.
“You could tell we haven’t won for a few games, we were desperate to win and made some nervous errors, but on the whole the lads showed they are up for the fight and desperate to get us out of this situation and make up for Saturday.
“We made a few changes and the lads that came in did very well and gave us all a lift and that’s given us such a boost with so many games to come at home, we are back on track and can take that momentum into Saturday now.
“Whether it was tiredness or a lack of confidence, I don’t know, but they answered all the questions I asked of them tonight and you’ve got to take your hats off to them.
“It didn’t matter how we won today, it was just about winning, and you could feel a big weight lifted around the place. We’ve had a mini sticky patch, now we need to use this home advantage to push us through because we have a vital period coming up.”
Scott’s four changes for the match told you all you needed to know about his thoughts on the 1-0 defeat at The Lamb. Dan Butler, re-signed on loan from Portsmouth on Monday, came straight back into the starting line-up, alongside Adam Webster, Adam Mekki and Martin Rowlands with Jordan Roberts, Solomon Taiwo, Josh Scott and Jaydon Gibbs – taking pain-killing injections for a double hernia on his groin – relegated to the bench.
With three wins and two draws from their last five, and with the wily Steve Burr at the helm, many expected Chester to lead the charge out of the bottom reaches, but, thankfully for Shots, the Blues just weren’t at the races here and Scott’s men took full advantage.
Indeed, the quest for a vital early goal didn’t take long to lift the mood around the ESS Stadium – and Scott’s new additions were right in the thick of it. Butler’s viciously swinging free-kick from the right forced a desperate defensive header just over his own bar from Paul Linwood, Mekki swung over the resulting corner to far post, Craig Stanley headed the ball back in and Brett Williams was on hand to stab the ball from close range.
Although chances were few and far between, it was the Shots who looked the most likely with Mekki and Butler again combining to hand Bradley Bubb an overhead kick opportunity eight yards out, but he couldn't quite get the connection with keeper Aaron Chapman in no-man’s land.
In contrast, Chester showed precious little and when things failed to improve in the opening quarter of an hour of the second half, boss Burr chanced his arm with a double change and suddenly the visitors had upped the ante.
Craig Mahon produced a fine fingertip save from Alan Martin around his near post with a well-struck shot on the turn from 20 yards, while John Rooney's 20-yard effort flew inches too high.
But the Shots should have put the visitors to bed on 69 minutes when a long ball over the top found Gibbs bearing down on goal. The Shots sub, who had only been on the pitch a matter of seconds, rounded Chapman but somehow blazed his effort over the bar when a simple side-foot would have sufficed.
But all fears of being made to pay for the miss were finally extinguished on 83 minutes. Good work again by Gibbs and Bubb on the right saw the latter ping over a cross and with the Chester defence at sixes and sevens, Williams stole in to rifle the ball home off the underside of the post and bar to the palpable relief of all.
ALDERSHOT: Martin; Oastler (Scott 80), Webster, Barker, Tonkin; Mekki (Gibbs 68), Stanley, Rowlands, Butler (Roberts 77); Williams, Bubb. Subs: Morris, Taiwo.
Ref: Lee Swabey. Att: 1,545 (143).