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Aldershot Town 6-2 Hendon

ALDERSHOT Town gave their 3,500 supporters something to cheer about as they went about celebrating their receipt of the Ryman League championship with a six-goal mauling of fourth-place Hendon at the Rec on Saturday.

ALDERSHOT Town will have a new sponsor next season if Saturday is anything to go by - the question is who?

Moet champagne or any beer brand imaginable are in the running, as all contributed to a party to remember at the Rec, in celebration of the club's finest hour.

Fans and club officials danced the streets of the town until the early hours to cap a magnificent day, which saw the Shots recognised as champions of the Ryman League in front of 3,500 jubilant supporters, who had earlier been treated to a second half performance of pure Conference class.

Once again, reminiscent of the three previous promotion parties in the club's short but proud 11-year history, fans turned the lush green grass into a sea of red and blue after the final whistle as the players got the party started in the best possible way.

Prior to the celebrations, the day had belonged to goalkeeper Nikki Bull.

The 21-year-old shot-stopper sprayed his hair red and blue for the occasion and was soon the focus of the cameras when receiving his well-deserved Player-of-the-Year Award.

And if that wasn't enough, Bull was then called by the fans to take a 75th minute penalty. With nerves of steel, the England amateur international keeper tucked it away with aplomb to register his first ever goal to the delight of the East Bank behind the goal.

Hendon arrived with a party-pooping intention, and for an hour, it looked as though their spoiling tactics would frustrate the Shots fans ready to pop the corks.

Two-one up and seemingly on top, the in-form fourth-place side, who the Shots play again in the reverse fixture on Thursday night, then felt the wrath of the Brown backlash which came in the form of a five-goal blast in 21 minutes, thus prompting wild celebrations.

Boss Brown ended the game watching from the East Bank terraces along with Stuart Cash, and could hardly contain his delight afterwards.

He said: "Fair play to Hendon, they came here to spoil the party and for an hour they looked like doing that. But we played some lovely football at times and you couldn't have written the script better if you tried in the end.

"The fans have been magnificent all year and we wouldn't to re-pay them with a goal-scoring performance. That's now five against St Albans and six against Hendon, and I can't ask for any more than that.

"But it was a day for the fans today, a day where they can sit down, relax and enjoy our last home game of the season. Thankfully, it turned out that way the little touch with Bully dying his hair, getting the Player-of-the-Year and then scoring a penalty at the East Bank end was marvellous.

Skipper Paul Buckle, who opened the scoring on Saturday with his fourth goal in seven games, may have "been there done that" in his long Football League career, but still rates the day as one of his most memorable.

He said: "That is up there with the best of the memories, no doubt about that. I came here to get promotion, we've all been put together new, and it's credit to the manager, the staff, the players and the supporters for a job well done.

"It's nice to achieve things in your career, but nice also for the club because this club is too big to be in this league and it was very important we got up this year.

"I knew what I was coming to when I came here. The fans have been superb throughout the season and I'm delighted for them."

Aldershot's five-star show after the break was as fitting and stylish as even the boss could have imagined. With a goalkeeper, a defender, two midfield players and a substitute getting on the scoresheet, it couldn't have gone any better, seeing as the one minor weakness in the side is the lack of goals from non-strikers.

Buckle has silenced those critics in recent weeks, and added to his tally with the game just 18 minutes old - stabbing home from close range after keeper David Hook could only parry Jason Chewins' cross shot.

Slowly but surely though, Hendon found their feet and began to show just why they are riding so high in the table.

Twice, man-of-the-moment Bull was forced into two crucial saves before striker Ricci Grace turned on a sixpence and lofted the ball home to level things up on the stroke of half time.

Cheers from the East Bank signalling Woking and Farnborough's lead lifted spirits with next year's Conference line-up taking over as the main other issue of the day.

Unfortunately though, it was Hendon who came out the brightest and within 13 minutes of the re-start, Paul Towler bundled the ball over the line after Bull had brilliantly kept out Grace's original effort.

But just when it looked as though the imminent celebrations were to be dampened slightly, back came the champions in blistering fashion.

Here's how the goals flew in…

l 69 mins — Buckle's corner from the left found the towering Dominic Sterling at the far post and his header was adjudged to go over the line despite the attentions of Mark Cooper — 2-2.

l 72 mins — Buckle once again floated over a corner from the line, Sterling once again won his header at the far post and Lee Holsgrove nodded the ball home from close range for his third goal in five games — 3-2.

l 75 mins — Buckle threaded the ball through to the on-rushing Roscoe D'sane, who collided with Iain Duncan on the by-line. The referee somewhat harshly gave the penalty but the fans didn't care, chanting for Bull to make his way down field. Bull didn't need asking twice and with the Rec silenced, side-footed home a near-perfect penalty to the roar of the adoring East Bank — 4-2.

l 78 mins — The goal of the game. Aaron McLean received the ball out wide on the left, cut inside his man and made his way towards goal. Just when the defence thought a through ball to D'sane was on the cards, McLean left fly with an unstoppable 30-yard curling shot which left Hook rooted to the spot — 5-2.

l 86 mins — The rout ended with another fine move, culminating in D'sane and Holsgrove playing in substitute Stafford Browne, who slotted home into the far corner with ease — 6-2.

With the damage done, the party had started with the usual lap of honour met with rousing applause. The celebrations with the players on top of the tunnel, looking down at the loyal 3,500 won't be forgotten for a while, but hopefully the champers will wear off in time for Thursday when Brown and the boys go on the trail of the 100-point mark.

SHOTS: Bull; Hooper, Chewins, Cousins (sub Cooper 74mins), Sterling, L Charles, Roddis (Perkins 58), Holsgrove, McLean (Browne 81), D'sane, Buckle. Not used: Nutter, Howells.

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