Aldershot Town’s second 1-1 draw of the weekend once again represented more than merely a single point gained, yet manager Andy Scott was still able to lament “a missed opportunity” as he prepares for the tough visit of high-flying Grimsby Town on Saturday.
Scott maintained the Shots should have returned from Devon with all three points yet, after a disjointed and disorganised first-half display, could also have easily lost to the dynamic Gulls.
“The first half wasn’t good enough and we looked lethargic,” he confirmed, “but the second-half response was excellent. We got the first goal and after that looked like the only team trying to score a second.”
That resurgence was prompted by two attacking substitutes, goalscorer Joe N’Guessan and strike partner Dan Fitchett, as Scott refused to allow exalted reputations stand in the way of necessary changes.
“There are still things that we need to do better,” was his understated assessment of a performance which at times lacked both defensive solidity and an attacking spearhead. “Complacency won’t be allowed, and people who think that their place is secure will have a rude awakening. We’ve conceded one goal from open play in five games but we’re still only sitting on eight points. It’s frustrating but it will be less so if we learn our lessons.”
Behind in just three minutes to what Scott called “a horrible goal”, Courtney Cameron’s 30-yard free-kick looped and bounced, entirely unnecessarily, into the far corner of the net. It largely set the tone for a half in which Torquay’s vibrant counter-attacks threatened the Shots’ back four with alarming ease.
Yet they should also have capitalised upon more hesitant defending by the hosts, as midfielder Sam Hatton made himself pivotal in both boxes. His set-pieces twice created space for Brett Williams, who could only direct the ball wide of goal, and – perhaps even more crucially – his workrate put him in the right place to block shots from Chapell and Ofori-Acheampong after the defence struggled to cope with Torquay’s pace.
Phil Smith also twice denied Ofori-Acheampong with strong saves during the opening half, and it was only with the arrival of those substitutes, along with Jordan Roberts’ switch to left-back, that the Shots roused themselves for a comeback.
Josh Scott’s instant turn and 30-yard drive had Rice scrambling to punch clear, and N’Guessan and Scott almost got in each other’s way as Hatton’s long throw dropped at their feet in front of goal. On 71 minutes, though, they got their reward.
Oastler lobbed a pass down the right and, helped by Fitchett’s strength in holding off debutant Levi Ives, N’Guessan burst into space in the box to slide the ball between Rice’s legs with admirable composure.
Both sides pushed for a late winner and, whilst the Shots enjoyed greater possession, it was Torquay who fashioned the better chances: Roberts made a fine block on Cameron’s shot, Smith parried Young’s swerving long-range free-kick, and Wakefield completely missed his kick after being set-up by Chapell’s cross.
Once again a point won rather than two dropped, Aldershot Town have acquitted themselves well through a tough run of games but will soon expect to turn those performances into victories.
But it doesn’t get any easier for the Shots, who entertain free-scoring Grimsby Town on Saturday, fresh from netting 13 goals in two matches over the Bank Holiday weekend (ko 3pm).
Aldershot: Smith; Gibbs, Wilson, Oastler, Tonkin (N’Guessan 60); Hatton, Forbes, Lathrope, Roberts; Scott (Molesley 80), Williams (Fitchett 60). Subs not used: Thomas, Derry
Att.: 2,135 (293 away).