ANGRY Shots boss Terry Brown has warned that heads will roll unless his players can turn the corner and bring an end to a somewhat unconvincing start to the new campaign.
Brown was furious with Monday's 1-1 draw at Bishop's Stortford, especially as the goal conceded came from the kind of set piece which his men have worked on defending for the last three weeks in training.
And that, coupled with last week's mind-numbing 3-0 defeat at home to Basingstoke, contributes the kind of start described by Brown as "disappointing," even though it was a game sandwiched by comprehensive victories over Hitchin and Braintree.
Speaking after the Bank Holiday Monday draw, Brown said: "Overall there's a sense of disappointment after our first four games. I'm disappointed that I haven't got my best players out there and whatever club you are at, you need your best players fit.
"I'm looking at why we have five players out. It might just be bad luck but I will make sure that other factors aren't in play."
Monday's game was far from satisfactory for Brown - and he wasted no time in reading out the riot act. He added: "We didn't play well enough, we didn't exert any authority on the game.
"We have to start defending these set pieces. We have worked solidly for three weeks on this yet we've been undone again. I'm not altogether sure whether we are strong enough in there and I've said that to the boys.
"If we are not going to attack the ball and win balls in our own box then I'll have to get people in who can because we are talking about bog basic defending here. It's a run of the mill corner that comes in towards the penalty spot, we don't win the header, we don't win the second ball and it's cost us dearly. My defence was poor today.
"I give a little bit of leeway because I didn't have my strongest side out there, but that annoys me more because the people in the red shirts today are the people who have the opportunity to keep that shirt. Richard Gell did enough to keep that shirt but some of the others didn't.
"There was two occasions out there where we pulled out of tackles and I'm not having that in a red shirt."
Gell, in fact, was probably one of two Aldershot players who could emerge from Woodside Park with a smile on his face on Monday after another fine display in the midfield.
Brown has named Gell as his ‘Player of the Weekend' and he will almost certainly retain his place for the trip to Enfield on Wednesday.
Another well and truly in Brown's plans in John Nutter, who earned the Shots a point with a blistering 25-yard free-kick into the top corner — his second goal in two days.
Nutter has struggled for a regular first team place ever since George Borg brought him to the ranks last summer, but his full-time training regime at the club is certainly paying dividends and all of a sudden it's like watching a different player.
One of the pluses for Brown over the weekend centred on the young brigade of Brownie's Babes.
The boss is working full time now with players like Saturday's two-goal hero Michael Harper, Mark Kleboe, Nick Sowden, Brett Cooper and Ali Shaw in the hope that it will force him into a few more healthy headaches as the season progresses.
These youngsters are simply not ready for 46 games a season at this level, but as Harper showed on Saturday, they all have a lot to offer when they get the call.
Indeed as the News went to press on Wednesday, Brown was due to watch the boys in the Capital League reserve team match against Havant & Waterlooville.
Also expected in that line-up is former Colchester defender David Greene, who is looking to convince Brown of his quality and help ease the ‘presence' problem at the back which Brown insists is all too evident.
With no game on Saturday, Brown now has time to don his thinking cap once again, nurse his five injury victims and start afresh.
Nutter's strike on Monday was as sweet as they come, hit with venom and perfect placement, giving keeper Micky Desborough no chance.
But in truth, it came against the run of play as unbeaten Stortford, who have a 4-0 win over Canvey Island to boast already this season, came out strongly.
Twice keeper Nikki Bull was called into action to deny Tim Langer and ex-Aldershot star Jimmy Sugrue, who enjoyed a fine game.
Nutter's quality from the dead ball situation earned the Shots the lead at the break, but a sleepy start to the second period cost them dear.
Sugrue set up Vinnie John after just 29 seconds, only to unleash a shot against a post.
Five minutes later, however, the pressure told when Sugrue whipped in a deep corner from the right, the excellent Freddie Hyatt nodded the ball back and John had time to steady himself to volley home from close range.
Both teams had chances to win the game from there with Lee Charles first missing an open goal for the Shots with a diving header and then clattering a cross-cum-shot against the inside of a post.
Bull restored parity late on with crucial saves to deny John and substitute Roy Essandoh — the man who famously knocked Leicester City out of the FA Cup last season while playing for Wycombe.
SHOTS: Bull; Hooper, Chewins, Cousins, Kuhl (sub Carroll 71mins), Cousins, A Charles, Sterling, L Charles, Harper (Taylor 59), Gell, Nutter (Parker 71). Not used: Howells, Kleboe. Ref: N Kinseley. Att: 894.
l Chelsea reserves kick off their season at the Rec this Monday (2) when they entertain Charlton Athletic (ko 7pm).