Written By Scott Taylor (@ScottTaylorUK)
Aldershot Town earned their first points of the 2015/16 National League season with a well-fought 0-0 draw against Cheltenham Town at the World of Smile Stadium on Tuesday evening. Despite Saturday’s 2-1 defeat at home to Gateshead, Barry Smith’s side travelled to the National League newboys with plenty of positives. As goalless draws go by, this was not like the sterotype, as both side created plenty of chances.
Cheltenham stated the better of the two sides, and had a handful of chances in the opening ten minutes, as Aldershot struggled to match the tempo of the side who were in League Two last season. In the fourth minute, Phil Smith, who was captaining the Shots in the absence of Sam Hatton, punched the ball straight to Amari Morgan-Smith. Smith, who previously had a trial with the Robins, had team-mate Jake Gallagher to thank after he cleared Morgan-Smith’s header of the line.
Shortly after, Morgan-Smith turned provider as his lofted through ball was met by Danny Wright, and the forward’s effort beat Smith but not the woodwork as he was denied by the post. It was third time unlucky for Gary Johnson’s side as they did manage to have the ball in the net in the 12th minute, but Morgan-Smith’s header was disallowed for offside.
After weathering an early storm, Aldershot created their first chance of the game in the 26th minute. Rhys Browne, who scored the Shots’ only goal in their defeat on Saturday, stormed through the Robins defence, but dragged his shot wide. Two of Barry Smith’s signings linked up well to create the next opening for the visitors moments later.
Jim Stevenson’s cross was met by former Welling midfielder Gallagher at the far post, but his shot lacked power so was easily gathered by Dillon Phillips. The topsy-turvy nature of the game continued before half-time, with Cheltenham ending the first half on top. Jack Munns’ cross found Billy Waters in the penalty area, but his header hit the post and cleared by the Shots defence.
The second half was no different than the first in terms of action. Cheye Alexander had a long-range effort for Aldershot before Munns fired over moments later for the hosts. Browne again looked lively for the Shots, and in the 65th minute his skilful run almost produced the first goal of the game, but an onrushing Phillips denied him.
Cheltenham recovered and produced another two chances of their own. Firstly. Harry Pell headed wide before second-half substitute Asa Hall, who made his home debut for the Robins, had a volley blocked by two Aldershot defenders from very close-range.
The home side fought they eventually broke the Aldershot resistance three minutes from time, but Jack Barthram’s shot was ruled out for offside after Smith deflected a Kyle Storer shot onto the post. Aldershot will look for their first win of the season when they travel to Wrexham on Saturday, a game that will be covered on Radio Woking on the Saturday Sports Show.
Aldershot XI: Smith; Alexander, Oliver, Beckles, Anderton; Lathrope, Gallagher (Richards 61’); Walker, Stevenson, Browne (Walker 74’); Barnes-Homer.
Cheltenham XI: Phillips; Barthram, Downes, Parslow, McLennan; Pell, Storer, Munns, Waters (Hall 57’); Morgan-Smith (Cooke 57’), Wright.