AN Aldershot Town side held together by sticky tape still showed they were a force to be reckoned with in this tough midweek encounter, thanks to solid second half defending - giving them plenty of confidence ahead of tomorrow's FA Cup clash with Aylesbury.

And after notching up their seventh consecutive victory, they joined St Albans City at the top of the Ryman Premier table.

With the Hertfordshire pacesetters beaten 3-0 by Terry Brown's old boys Hayes, they cling on to top spot above Shots by just two goals, although the Rec side have a game in hand and look good for a massive assault on the title.

With around eight of Brown's first team players sidelined through injury it was up to the youth brigade of the club to make their mark. And they did.

Brett Cooper and Jamie Taylor both came on and put in superb displays, while Roscoe D'Sane (hard to believe he fits in this category) netted both goals.

"We really had to dig deep today because it was never going to be an easy fixture and with the amount of injuries we've got, we only just about managed to field a side today," admitted Brown. "It meant we had to bring youngsters in. We brought Brett Cooper in, who I thought did smashing for us.

"He dug in at right back, got forward and actually created the second goal for us.

"Fair play to Brett, I thought he won us the game. It's not a coincidence that every time we've brought the youngsters in they've come up trumps.

"That's Brett today, Michael Harper with his two goals in two games and obviously Jamie (Taylor), who has done a really good job for us. They'll all get much, much better and they'll be given the opportunity.

"They're probably all about a year away from making their mark on the game and I hope we can use them sparingly and not quite as often as we have to use them at the moment, but good luck to the boys they've been a credit to the club and a credit to Simon (Pullen) and Martin (Kuhl)."

Although Anthony Charles, Dave Carroll and Lee Charles managed to last around 45 minutes Brown admitted they wouldn't have started had there not been such an injury crisis at the Rec.

"It's a case of having to patch up the ones that are least injured and get them out there," he added. "We know we rode our luck today, but luck comes in different guises and we haven't had any luck whatsoever as far as injuries are concerned.

"I'm told by the physio that we're about a week away from having the vast majority of them back, fit, training with us, so I look forward to that day, because we're certainly bare bones at the moment."

Carroll and the two Charles' join Gareth Howells (groin), Dean Hooper (ankle), Jason Chewins (hamstring), Nick Roddis (medial ligament), Paul Buckle (ankle), Richard Gell (calf) and Paul Moody (Achilles) on the current, overflowing injury list.

To make matters worse, the patched-up Shots side found themselves a goal down after 13 minutes.

Jason Cousins misjudged a nod back to his keeper Nicky Bull, which allowed Carl Williams in to chip the ball into the back of the net.

But the visitors were quick to reply. A minute later a free kick was awarded just outside the area after a foul on Adam Parker. D'Sane stepped up and curled a superb ball around the wall and the diving Steve Wilson in the Bedford goal.

As the half drew to a close both keepers were called into action when Stuart Smeathers went close for the home side and John Nutter replied for the Shots.

The decisive goal came after 63 minutes, when referee Henry awarded Shots a penalty for a handball incident.

A great run from Cooper had seen him centre to Parker at the top of the box, but his shot was handled. D'Sane stepped up and coolly converted the spot kick.

The final 20 minutes saw Shots under constant pressure, with Bedford's Eddie Lawley, Mark Paul and Ross Harrison testing the strength of the visiting defence.

It could have been level with six minutes to go but a superb off the line clearance by Dominic Sterling, ensured Shots took the honours.

"In the end we did the normal Alamo trick where we sit on our 18 yard box and allow them to pepper the goal," said Brown. "It's certainly a trick we seem to have mastered at the moment because they've never squeezed one in yet. But I'd much rather we held a higher line, kept the ball up front.

"You've got to have a solid centre base and we need to keep clean sheets. We're averaging two goals a game.

"I'd like to get that up to three and I'd like to get it under a goal a game. That would be championship football.

"Today we're sitting right at the top of the table and I'm really happy."

Shots must now turn their attentions to the FA Cup clash with Aylesbury on Saturday.

With many of the players still injured Brown's main concern is being able to field a team. I'd just like to get a side out really," he added. "We'll have a training session on Thursday where our physio will have more players training with him than I'll have training with the squad.

"We're going to do next to nothing on Thursday. I can't do pattern of play, I can't do set pieces, because I haven't got bodies.

"It's just a matter of making sure I don't injure anybody in training and trying to pick a fit 15 players for Saturday.

"It will be, in my mind, the biggest game of the season. Aylesbury are a good side. They'll come pumped up. The manager knows Aldershot well - he's desperate to win here.

"If you look at Craig Maskell he always scores at the Rec and is always a nuisance to us.

"So hopefully we'll have a welcoming party with the centre halves welcoming in and making him feel at home."

Kick off at the Recreation Ground is at 3pm.

SHOTS: Bull; Carroll (sub Cooper 45 mins), A Charles (Kuhl 51), Ready, Cousins, Sterling, Nutter, L Charles (Taylor 45), Parker, D'Sane, Holsgrove.

l Shots captain Jason Cousins will be having his delayed Testimonial game organised by Wycombe Wanderers, against Celtic — the club managed by his former boss Martin O'Neill.

The game takes place on Tuesday October 8, at Adams Park and Jason has invited all Shots fans to attend.