A LAST minute penalty from in-form striker Roscoe D'sane handed Aldershot an unlikely victory at Boreham Wood on Monday night — one which, for 24 hours, saw them stretch their lead at the top of the Ryman premier division to four points.
D'sane nonchalantly slotted home his seventh goal of the season from the spot after lively young substitute Jamie Taylor had been rashly brought down in the box.
But despite D'sane's last gasp sealing of the points, the hero of the day was undoubtedly goalkeeper Nikki Bull, who pulled off a string of fine saves to keep parity against a gritty and physical Boreham Wood side.
The result now means that the Shots will go into Saturday's eagerly-awaited clash with George Borg and Billericay on Saturday, one point clear of the rest, after closest rivals St Albans won 4-2 at Sutton on Tuesday night. Not that boss Terry Brown is getting too excited though.
He said: "There's no way we are getting carried away by the league table, far from it. If anything we've still got to instil confidence into the players because we know we are not firing on all cylinders and we must get better to win this league.
"I was delighted with the three points on Monday night, we worked hard for it. But the fact that Nikki Bull was man of the match showed how much we struggled at times, and if it wasn't for him then we would not have achieved it.
"I thought we shaded the first half, but they shaded the second. In fact, if you'd have taken the last 20 minutes, you would say we didn't deserve to win the game. Overall though, I think we created enough chances to nick it, which is what we did.
"Nikki was fantastic, probably the best goalkeeping performance I have seen at this club. I was also pleased with Dominic Sterling, who held the defence superbly with Anthony Charles and Lee Holsgrove both carrying knocks.
"It was also great to be able to throw the two youngsters on to give us fresh legs late on. Within a minute of coming on, Michael Harper had a shot on target, while Jamie Taylor earned us the penalty. They will cause defences massive problems and I'm delighted to have them on board."
On paper, this was a priceless victory. Just 48 hours after their 3-1 victory at Chesham, it was asking a lot of the Shots to make the tricky trip to Hertfordshire and seal all three points against a burly Boreham Wood side in dark, damp conditions.
A tough encounter was expected and a tough encounter they got, but three points also followed and gives the best indication yet that the Shots can grind out results such as this when needs most.
But Monday night's victory didn't come without cost, however. Nick Roddis limped off in the first half with a hamstring pull, while the heroic Bull and defenders Anthony Charles and Lee Holsgrove played on through the pain barrier — more than playing their part in the outcome.
It seems physio Alan McCreeney will be a busy man in preparation for Billericay's visit to the Rec on Saturday.
Boreham Wood started the better of the two sides with Paul Moody forced into making two crucial defensive clearances early on, before Brian Jones' header from Dominic Grime's cross drifted just wide.
But the Shots soon got into their stride with D'sane the obvious threat. His mazy run, spanning a full 30 yards, had the Wood defence on the back foot, but his shot from just outside the box flew wide. Minutes later, he went even closer — again attacking the right channel and firing from the edge this time, straight onto the outside of the upright.
The home side came out fighting in the second period, and, but for Bull, would have almost definitely stolen the match in a determined third quarter.
Two miraculous saves to deny striker Corey Browne — the first from a fierce shot onto the post, and the second, a reaction stop to keep out a close range effort, all but kept his team in it and spurred them on to a late onslaught, which eventually paid dividends.
A third top class save was followed by Brown bringing on the young forward pairing of Taylor and Michael Harper, and the Shots suddenly upped the tempo.
Harper tested keeper Noel Imber with a stinging low shot, while Paul Buckle also went close.
But with the clock ticking down, the Shots finally got the break they needed.
Taylor burst into the box, only to be checked when attempting to square to Harper. The referee showed no hesitation in pointing to the spot and D'sane, after a conference with Richard Gell, slotted home the resulting spot kick in the most stylish of manners.
Seven minutes of time added on brought some nervous moments, but the Shots held on to record their third successive away league victory.
SHOTS: Bull; Hooper (sub Harper 79mins), Chewins, Gell, Sterling, A Charles, Roddis (L Charles 37), Holsgrove, Moody (Taylor 79), D'sane, Buckle. Not used: Lauder-Dyke, Kuhl.
l Aldershot Town have been drawn away to Bournemouth (Saturday) of the Jewson Wessex League in the third round of the Hampshire Senior Cup.
The tie must be played before Saturday December 7.