JAMIE Taylor struck twice in the last three minutes to save Aldershot Town from one of their most embarrassing cup exits ever.

The 19-year-old hitman followed up his poacher's equaliser with a stunning 22-yard strike to stake his claim for a place in the starting line-up for Saturday's crunch top-of-the-table clash with Purfleet (ko 3pm).

Taylor's goals now take Aldershot into the quarter-final of the cup they have won for three of the last four seasons, and just two games away from a possible trip back to St Mary's in May.

But, while boss Terry Brown recognised the talents of Taylor and his timely strikes, he was unsurprisingly furious at the performance which came within a whisker of leading to, undoubtedly, the worst ever cup defeat suffered since the club's inauguration in 1992.

And, as a double blow, the Shots had defender Dominic Sterling sent off on 25 minutes for an innocuous-looking challenge on Steve Tricky, and he now looks set to miss the crucial trip to St Albans on December 21.

Describing a forgettable night, the boss said: "The performance shows the weaknesses we have in our squad. I looked at Worcester on Saturday and we saw an ex-Hereford captain coming on from the bench and Mark Owen coming on. My bench was very young and very inexperienced. I feel we do need to strengthen the squad from what I've seen tonight.

"We scored on three minutes and should have gone on from there, we didn't. We didn't apply ourselves properly. I thought we were going out, because, apart from Jamie Taylor, I couldn't see us scoring a goal.

"It was an absolute nightmare really. People paid good money to watch us at Worcester and I didn't want them to be embarrassed by losing to a smaller club in, what is, a decent competition which I want to win.

Speaking of the sending off, Brown added: "The referee will probably hide behind the letter of the law but there wasn't a bad tackle in the game. Dominic made a genuine attempt for the ball. Yes, it was a penalty, but to send him off is indicative of modern day referees, I feel.

"It's the Hampshire Senior Cup, we've got Hampshire referees, and they've cocked up a chance of a Hampshire club winning the league. Well done Hampshire!"

Sterling's sending off, which led to Steve Collins converting the resulting penalty, was a massive blow to Brown's cup hopes, but the truth is, his ten men should still have been good enough to settle the contest long before they did.

But, for long periods, it was the Jewson Wessex Leaguers who showed the more hunger and desire, and they were well worthy of their second goal, scored by Sammy Bryning from Dancer's 68th minute cross.

The Shots offered very little — half-paced, dare I say, arrogant, at times. When Anthony Charles put them in front on just three minutes with a cool finish from the left-hand channel for his first goal in an Aldershot shirt, it was as if they expected to cruise the rest of the game.

As it was, Taylor's last-gasp brace, which left the brave Poppies deflated, acted as the get-out clause which the Shots hardly deserved.

That will not be the case on Saturday — Brown will make sure of that. Second-place Purfleet are a dangerous outfit, and anything less than 100% will contribute to the visitors taking over from the Shots at the top of the table.

Brown is not expected to reward Taylor for his efforts by giving him the nod on Saturday to play alongside Roscoe D'sane.

Paul Moody, who was taken off at half time, in this, his comeback match from illness, looks desperately short of match fitness and not fully recovered, while Lee Charles is nowhere near his best at the moment.

Brown is also confident of signing Watford centre back Matt Langstone on a one-month loan, starting this Saturday.

Langstone, 22, is a strong, towering 6ft 3in ball-winner, who impressed Brown during recent reserve team matches against Arsenal and Tottenham.

He is expected to take his place in the back line against Purfleet, a game which Brown describes as a ‘six-pointer.'

He added: "I've seen Purfleet play Canvey Island recently and they are the best two sides I have seen this season. It's going to be a very tough game for us."

Jason Chewins is expected to shake off a dead leg to take his place on the left side, but goalkeeper Nikki Bull (ribs) and Dean Hooper (ankle) remain sidelined. Richard Hurst and Richard Gell deputise.

Bull, in fact, is now facing a double heartache.

Brown has revealed that the FA have recalled information from his sending off against Dagenham & Redbridge on October 26, and look likely to ban him for a further two games on a misconduct charge for allegedly swearing at the assistant referee — effectively punishing him twice! It is unknown yet when that is likely to come into play.

SHOTS: Hurst; Cooper, Chewins (sub Gell 45mins), Cousins, Sterling, A Charles, Kuhl (D'sane 56), Holsgrove, Moody (L Charles 45), Taylor, Sowden. Not used: Harper, Lauder-Dyke.

Ref: M Ebbage. Att: 657.