Andy Scott's Aldershot Town came away from Hereford with a valuable 2-0 win
At a time when they might still be forgiven for taking faltering steps through adversity, Aldershot Town have taken giant strides towards a bright future.
Friday night's 2-0 victory against Hereford United - a rare Shots win at Edgar Street - was earned by their best away performance of the season and lifted Andy Scott’s team not only onto a positive points total but also off the bottom of the Skrill Premier table.
Brett Williams’ third and fourth goals of the season – augmented by a string of superb saves from goalkeeper Glenn Morris – provided the perfect response to the harsh self-assessment provided by both players and manager of previous losses at Salisbury and Southport.
“That’s what an away performance needs,” asserted Scott, of their bullish display against the Bulls.
“We’ve been critical because we know we can do it, and tonight proved that.
"It showed that we’ve got a group of players who are prepared to do anything they can to make sure we win games.
“The lads wanted to prove that they could play away from home. Everybody has contributed tonight. Brett will obviously take the plaudits but it was a real team effort.”
It was Morris, though, who shone first through the dank Herefordshire drizzle. The hosts started apace, and debutant Richard Brodie was an immediate thorn in their side as both creator and predatory finisher.
United could easily have established a decisive lead, through Brodie, Chris Bush and Sam Smith, but suddenly, in just the 14th minute, the Shots delivered the sucker-punch.
Stanley’s teasing pass forward threw centre half and goalkeeper into confusion, allowing Williams to pounce on the loose ball.
McDonald’s blocked shot aside, Hereford’s confidence and cohesion soon disappeared. The dangerous Manny Oyeleke had a shot well saved and should have done better with a free header, as the Shots threatened with fluid approach play of their own.
Brodie was equally frustrating, with a wasteful shot over the bar, but the second half followed a similar pattern to the first.
His glancing header from Walker’s swirling cross hit the bar and, having evaded Morris’s dive, West saw his angled shot cleared off the line by Joe Oastler.
Almost inevitably, Aldershot Town then apparently put the result beyond doubt, and it was again Stanley who linked up with Williams.
Paterson’s dummy deceived the Hereford defence and Williams cut in from the left flank to score with ease.
Still, though, it required a save from Morris which left Andy Scott pondering its brilliance all the way back down the M4.
Latching onto West’s clever pull-back, Smith had just the keeper to beat, six yards out, but the man nicknamed The Cat flew off his line to make a spectacular block.
There was still almost 20 minutes left, but it was Shots who finished the stronger. They might have extended their lead, but could soon reflect, nonetheless, on a classic away performance.
Far from being the relegation candidates many expected, Aldershot Town have quickly discovered form which, in normal circumstances, would see them challenging for a top 10 place amongst far more settled and established rivals.
ATFC: Morris; Oastler, Webster, Goodman, Barker; Rowlands, Stanley, Oyeleke; Molesley, Paterson (Roberts 78), B Williams. Subs not used: Wickham, Douglas, L Williams, Gibbs.
Att: 1,851 (144 away).