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Cousins strike rocks Canvey

A 13th minute winner by Aldershot skipper Jason Cousins was just enough to see his side through the crunch clash with title rivals Canvey Island at the Rec on Tuesday night.

TERRY Brown is mastering the ultimate in perfectionism.

Victory over main title rivals Canvey Island, five wins on the trot and second in the table, any football manager would probably be forgiven for forcing the odd smile or two.

Not if your name is Terry Brown, however.

Despite the recent upsurge in results which has shot the club into a commanding position, the Shots are still not playing to their full potential and Brown is far from happy.

Worrying, therefore, for the rest of the main challengers, that the best is yet to come.

"Canvey definitely deserved one point, if not all three," admitted Brown afterwards. "I've had to witness that 90 minutes of football and I'm not getting carried away. Our performance with the ball left a lot to be desired.

"There was ample opportunity in the last five or ten minutes to get the ball down, pass it and score a goal. But we lacked conviction and gave it away every time.

"We've got to go back to the training ground and work on keeping the ball better. The 46-match league means you are playing every Saturday and every Tuesday, and I thought the boys looked a bit tired out there.

"That said, it was a gutsy performance tonight and I would like to congratulate them for their workrate and commitment. My boys at the back defended resolutely and restricted a good side like Canvey to only a couple of clear-cut chances.

"I suppose when I go home and think about it in the cold light of tomorrow morning, then I'll be a happy man, but at the moment all I can see is deficiencies we had in today's performance.

"The message to all my players is that we must do better than that to go to the top of the table and stay there."

It's extremely difficult to criticise a team in Aldershot's position, but Brown has a point.

Quality on the ball was scarce and often it resulted in the Shots having to frantically clear their lines from sustained Canvey attack.

Thankfully, the likes of goalscorer and skipper Jason Cousins, soon-to-be-departed Karl Ready and Dominic Sterling, in particular, at the back, were superb, leaving keeper Nikki Bull a relative by-stander.

With Canvey having netted 14 goals in their previous three games and Aldershot defending a four-match winning sequence, this was being billed as a fast, free-flowing, attacking game of football with goals a near certainty.

But it didn't turn out that way with both sides obviously having done their homework and succeeding in cancelling each other out.

The result was a dogged, gutsy, scrappy affair, won by Cousins' thunderous 13th minute near-post header, which was adjudged to have bounced over the line off the underside of the crossbar.

But Brown has another problem going into Saturday's home clash with Heybridge Swifts — the ever-growing injury list.

Jason Chewins' comeback from a hamstring pull lasted just 29 minutes before he was replaced, while Richard Gell limped off in the second half with a calf strain.

That, coupled with knocks to Nick Roddis and Paul Buckle, leaves the central midfield, in particular, hugely under-staffed.

Canvey too, however, had problems. Ex-Shot Lee Protheroe looked a lost man in the stands having failed a late fitness test, while another former Rec favourite Ollie Adedeji also watched from the sidelines.

Their first returns to the Rec got off to the worst possible start when Cousins wasted no time in registering his first goal for the club.

Dave Carroll whipped in a dangerous corner from the right and Cousins, his former Wycombe team-mate, arrived at the near post to rifle in a header which clattered the underside of the bar.

The ball was eventually cleared by a Canvey defender, but for the third game running, the linesman gave the Shots the benefit of the doubt and flagged to notify referee Pike that the ball had indeed bounced over the line.

A stop-start, scrappy affair ensued, culminating in very little goalmouth action.

The chances that were created came for Canvey with Bull first having to dive to clutch a Neil Gregory effort before Bertie Brayley woefully scuffed a left-foot shot wide when in a good position.

Carroll looked a little fatigued and soon joined Chewins back in the dug-out, leaving replacements John Nutter and Lee Charles to call the tune. But when Gell limped off with barely an hour on the clock, all Brown's options were used up.

Canvey continued to press but Aldershot's back line never buckled. Ready cleared his lines to cut out a dangerous Michael Bennett centre, while Cousins launched himself at Brayley to prevent a certain shot on goal.

Gregory also went close when connecting with John Kennedy's cross, but his snap shot was scooped high and wide.

The Shots did, however, enjoy some success on the counter with the pace of Roscoe D'sane and power of the hard-working Paul Moody, posing a constant threat.

Indeed D'sane had the perfect opportunity to kill the game off late on when latching onto Moody's lay-off only to blast a shot high and wide with just keeper Danny Potter to beat.

A goal then would have certainly relieved his team mates of a lot of pressure in the last ten minutes and possibly saved his boss growing one or two more grey hairs!

Defeats for Purfleet and Basingstoke and a draw for Billericay, meant that the Shots rocked to second in the table, level on points with St Albans, who were due to face Enfield as the News went to press on Wednesday night.

Brown will be looking to make it six out of six after the visit of Swifts on Saturday. The Essex club have a decent record at the Rec and are enjoying a solid start to the new campaign. Kick off is 3pm.

SHOTS: Bull; Hooper, Chewins (sub Nutter 29mins), Ready, Cousins, Sterling, Carroll (L Charles 45), Gell (Parker 59), Moody, D'sane, Holsgrove. Not used: A Charles, Taylor.

CANVEY: Potter; Kennedy, Duffy, Chenery, Ward, Bennett, Forbes ( sub Boylan 77mins), Dobinson (Knight 68), N Gregory, Brayley, Minton. Not used: Davidson, D Gregory, Jones.

Ref: K Pike. Att: 2,058.

l Aldershot Town FC are looking for a kit manager to handle all first team duties. If anyone is interested, please contact Stuart Cash at the club offices on (01252) 320211.


Charlotte Neal
Chief Reporter (Aldershot)
Joshua Smith
Farnborough Reporter
Jon Couch
Sport Editor
Stephen Lloyd
Fleet & Yateley Reporter
Ros Collins
Junior News & Mail
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