Written By Declan McCarthy
Forest Green moved back on top spot as they put on a valiant display against Aldershot Town in front of the BT Sport cameras winning comfortably with goals from Kurtis Guthrie, Aaron O’Connor and new signing Darren Carter helping the visitors stretch their lead at the top of the National League table.
The win for Forest Green now sees them leap rivals, Cheltenham Town, into first position with a three point lead. Following the defeat, Aldershot still find themselves in 15th place in the National League table.
Barry Smith named an unchanged side from the weekend that saw Aldershot pick up three points on their travels against struggling Torquay. With Jake Gallagher facing suspension, Damon Lathrope got his second consecutive start as a central defensive midfielder in a diamond 4-1-2-1-2.
The expectation was that Forest Green would be the team to beat. Rightfully so, but Aldershot did start really well, in particular the young Rhys Browne, as he exploded onto the scene with a powerful driven shot into the alert Jonny Maxted, who saved well.
Early signs showed Forest Green had the danger men upfront in Keanu Marsh-Brown and Jon Parkin who was unfortunate not to score early on as his shot was heroically blocked off the line by the retreating Omar Beckles.
After a slow start from Forest Green the visitors certainly turned a corner after the half hour mark. They looked more dynamic going forward. However, it was helped by the Aldershot defence, who consistently lost possession, making it easy for Parkin & Rob Sinclair to spring the visitors onto another attack.
The deadlock was broken through Daren Carter after he received the ball from Luke Freer just inside the box and neatly tucked the ball into the corner of the net securing his first goal for his new club.
Short moments later the increasing pressure from the front men of Parkin and Guthire meant the Shots would go two down after some lethargic defending, allowing Kurtis Gurthie to simply glide his way past the defence and chip the ball over the oncoming Smith.
Barry Smith made a change at half time, with Nick Anderton making way for Tom Richards at left-back. The introduction of striker Richard Brodie was then heavily applauded by the home crowd.
Aldershot’s first real attempt in the second half came from Jim Stevenson just after the hour mark. Rhys Browne produced an elegant cross into the six yard area, Stevenson then met the ball with an explosive header only for it to be saved by Maxted who had to be alert to deny the Aldershot midfielder.
Forest Green let their intense play go adrift in the latter stages of the second half, which invited Aldershot to get themselves back into the game. But the lack of on-target attempts suggested that it wasn’t going to be a fairy tale ending for the home side.
The away side nearly scored again after numerous set-pieces – From a corner, the former Birmingham City striker, Darren Carter headed against the bar. Kurtis Guthrie also had the ball in the back of the Aldershot net, but it was flagged up as offside, then Guthrie made way for substitute Aaron O’Connor.
The powerhouse Aaron O’Connor didn’t hesitate at his first attempt at goal – from a long ball over the top of the Aldershot defence, he done well to drill his shot into the back of the net. Essentially wrapping up the game with 5 minutes remaining on the clock.
However in added time, Dan Walker looked set to grab a consolation goal for Aldershot but failed to compose himself and blazed his shot over the bar. The referee then blew his whistle confirming Forest Green would further increase their stretch on rivals Cheltenham by three points and claim a clean sheet, something Forest Green haven’t been able to achieve in any of their last previous eight (8) games!
Aldershot manager Barry Smith spoke of his disappointment to RADIO WOKING after the full-time whistle and he said, “I’m never happy when you lose by three goals. We started the game well but we needed to score & we didn’t. The goals we conceded were poor. He continued to say, “We have to do better, we (Aldershot) are not marking runners and not organising early enough. Errors are costing us.
Altrincham are the next visitors for Barry Smiths men, this Saturday at the EBB Stadium. Kick off 3pm.
Aldershots XI: Smith, Lathrope, Saville, Hatton(3), Stevenson, Barnes-Homer(2), Walker, Alexander, Beckles, Browne, Anderton(1).
(2) Richard Brodie
(3) Dan Walker
Attendance: 1304 (49) (Forest Green Fans)