Close but no cigar as Aldershot Town let a two-goal lead slip in the final 12 minutes at home to Barnet
Edgar Davids has been criticised for missing two league away trips for Barnet recently. Luckily though, for the 1,713 die-hards who braved the torrential rain at the ESS Stadium on Tuesday night, the Dutch superstar is a pretty good judge of which games to attend.
The high-profile Barnet boss has been involved in many a classic encounter when pulling on the shirt of Ajax, AC Milan and Juventus over the years, but even he will have enjoyed the entertaining six-goal thriller at Aldershot Town, which saw his side battle back from the death to rescue a point they just about deserved.
But while Davids and his entire bench leapt onto the pitch in ecstasy after Harry Crawford’s 88th-minute equaliser, his Shots counterpart Andy Scott was left wondering what might have been.
Two goals from hotshot striker Brett Williams, sandwiching a fine effort from Manny Oyeleke, guided the hosts into a healthy 3-1 lead with 12 minutes to go, clearly in sight of a third straight victory.
But despite failing to hang on to their advantage in the end, proud Scott was left with nothing but praise for his weary-legged young troops, reflecting on a point gained rather two dropped.
“We’re disappointed to lose [a] 3-1 [lead] but they are a good side, they are fancied, and we were under the cosh a little bit,” he said.
“Our organisation and work ethic throughout was fantastic and we could have scored a few more but we tired, I admit that, and I’m pleased with the point.
“If we’d have got a point at Hereford and three points tonight then everyone would have been delighted.
"We’ve still got four out of those two games, the run continues, we are three unbeaten now and we've played really well in spells.
“Overall, it’s a very good result for us, we’ve got to lift the lads and make them realise the positives of what has happened tonight and take that into a tough one against Wrexham on Saturday.”
Scott also refused to berate Williams for missing a glorious late chance at 3-2 which would have not only sealed his hat-trick but also put paid to any hopes the visitors had of staging a comeback.
“You’ve got to look at the conditions,” Scott said. “It’s really skipped up at him and flew off the turf.
"Sometimes they go for you, sometimes they don’t, but his work rate was fantastic and he deserved his two goals.”
If consistency is indeed the key for boss Scott then his ability to name an unchanged team for the fifth successive match is surely a contributory factor in this young team’s steady resurgence.
And still on a high after Friday night’s first away success at Hereford, the Shots got off to the best possible start.
With just two minutes on the clock, Joe Oastler found some space out on the right hand byline and his cross found its way to Williams, who gleefully chested the ball home from close range.
Not even the driving rain could stop the Shots in their flow at this stage as the midfield three of Craig Stanley, Martin Rowlands and Manny Oyeleke dominated the middle third, while Williams and Matt Paterson were causing the visitors’ defence all sorts of problems.
For all their possession, however, very little came in the way of goalscoring opportunity with Oastler’s dipping effort from 25 yards the closest Aldershot came to increasing their lead.
In contrast, Barnet showed precious little, but after a rollicking from Davids they came out with a steely determination in the second half, penning the Shots back almost immediately.
Mark Byrne had the ball in the back of the net after just 30 seconds of the half, only to be ruled offside by referee Nick Kinseley, while Paterson was forced into a desperate block to deny from Ahmed Abdulla.
It was no surprise, therefore, when Barnet equalised on 58 minutes. Andy Yiadom chipped the ball forward, Shots centre-back Jake Goodman failed to deal with it and Curtis Weston nipped in to lob the ball over the advancing Morris and into the corner of the net.
But just when it looked like the Shots would implode, back they came – and in some style.
In what was the Shots’ first real attack of the half, Barnet failed to clear their lines in the penalty area and Oyeleke, fed by Martin Rowlands, buried a left-foot shot from 15 yards into the far corner.
Four minutes later it got even better. On clearing a routine back pass, Barnet keeper Graham Stack did not spot Williams bearing down behind him, the Shots striker bravely blocked his attempted punt forward and pounced to steer the loose ball into an empty net.
Centre-back Adam Webster then came within inches of adding a fine fourth, beating no fewer than three men on a surging run down the middle before firing inches high and wide of the target with a stinging 20-yard effort.
But any hopes of Aldershot seeing out a comfortable victory vanished 12 minutes from time when Weston’s driving run through the midfield picked out Crawford, whose cross handed substitute Marciano Mengerink a simple tap-in for 3-2.
Williams could, and should, have wrapped it up there and then with a gilt-edged chance which he steered wide from eight yards out.
And the Shots were made to pay the price two minutes later – Byrne bursting through and picking out Crawford, who swivelled and fired a shot beyond the out-stretched Morris into the top corner.
ALDERSHOT: Morris, Oastler, Barker, Goodman, Webster, Stanley, Rowlands, Oyeleke (Gibbs 76), Molsley, Paterson (Roberts 62), B Williams. Subs: Wickham, Douglas, Gibbs, L Williams.
Ref: Nick Kinseley. Att: 1,713 (157).