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Hot Shots end turbulent year with Welling win

Aldershot Town racked up their fourth successive home win with a hard-fought victory over Welling United

Displayed menacingly, but proudly, at the back of the Elm Community Stand is a large banner which reads 'Fortress Rec'.

In truth, that's hardly been an accurate assessment of Aldershot Town's form at the ESS Stadium over the past couple of years, but as 2014 dawns upon us there are clear signs that things could be about to change.

A battling and hard-fought 3-1 victory over an unwieldy Welling United was Aldershot's fourth straight home success in the league, making up the second best home record outside the top six and pushing the Shots ever closer to Skrill Premier safety.

And it seems that the footballing gods are at last shining down on Andy Scott's men, who benefited from the 67th-minute sending off of Welling defender Blaine Hudson with the visitors a goal to the good.

The league's top scorer Brett Williams rifled home the resulting penalty kick to restore parity before strike partner Aiden O'Brien got in on the act, adding a late double to see the Shots home.

Delighted Scott said: “It wasn't pretty at times but it's another three goals and three points against a good, well-organised side who are taking the league by storm this year.

“I was disappointed with our performance against Forest Green [a 3-1 defeat on Boxing Day] but the lads have responded very well after very little rest and there were a lot of encouraging signs out there.

“At this time of the year you're just looking at picking up points and a win's a win. It takes us closer to the teams above us so it's a good day all round.”

Unsurprisingly, both dug-outs claimed supremacy in what was a dour first-half, which brought more yellow cards than goal attempts.

Welling player-boss Jamie Day went into referee Wayne Barratt's notebook for a cynical foul on Craig Stanley, joining giant centre-back Hudson, in a crazy three-minute spell which also saw Ross Lafayette escaping a caution for a late lunge on Jaydon Gibbs.

'Stupid challenge'

But there is more to Welling's game than just their physicality - a point they proved just five minutes after the restart.

Day's 25-yard free kick forced a fine diving save from returning keeper Glen Morris, and from the resulting corner Lafayette rose highest to bury a header through the fingertips of a sprawling Morris and inside the far post.

At this point, the Shots were struggling to find the kind of attacking rhythm that hit Tamworth for six just seven days previous, but on 67 minutes they were handed a lifeline.

Lewis Young's dangerous cross behind the defensive line caused havoc in the Welling box and in a desperate attempt to prevent a marauding Joe Oastler from latching onto the loose ball, Hudson clattered into the Shots defender, sending him sprawling in the six-yard box.

Referee Barratt incurred the wrath of the Welling dug-out by brandishing a second yellow card and Williams compounded their misery by sending keeper Lee Butcher the wrong way from the penalty spot for his 18th goal of the season.

“From my view it looked like a defender trying to stop the attacker rolling around him,” observed Wings assistant boss Barry Ashby. "It changed the game completely."

Scott, however, saw it differently, adding: “It was a great ball into the box, Joe's made a good run and the lad's made a stupid challenge.

“They're going to say it changed the course of the game as they were in the lead and ended up losing, but I thought we were the better side both before and after.”

With the momentum and numerical advantage in their favour, there was only one winner. Impressive O'Brien put the Shots in front on 78 minutes when a mazy run past two defenders culminated in a 20-yard shot, which took a wicked deflection off ex-Shot Doug Bergqvist and past the wrong-footed Butcher.

And the Millwall loanee wrapped it up with his fifth goal in sixth matches four minutes from time - a thumping near-post header from Adam Mekki's free kick, which ended a turbulent 2013 on a welcome high.


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