Written By Declan McCarthy
Jim Stevenson was not just the man of the match on the night, he was certainly the man of the moment as he scored two headed goals while Andre McColin grabbed the decisive goal that saw off Dover Athletic on the night. Dover did squeeze a goal as Sean Francis scored but it simply wasn’t enough as Aldershot continue on their 4 match unbeaten run.
Aldershot under caretaker manager Chris Barker went into the tie against Dover Athletic in good spirits. The Hampshire based side unbeaten in their last 3 matches wanted to extend their good run of form under Barker.
The game kicked off and Dover were in possession within a flash as Barker miss timed the ball allowing Tom Murphy to break down the right hand side but Captain Glenn Wilson was there to clear the danger.
Aldershot certainly started brighter than the away side. The first on target attempt of the game was from Tom Murphy as he headed attempt flew into Phil Smith who held the ball comfortably and at the other end it was on loan from Gillingham striker Antonio German who made a difference upfront. He linked up well with the midfield of Jim Stevenson and Matt Saunders. He continued to add pressure to the Dover defence as another chance arose for the Shots, this time Brett Williams heading over the bar.
For a few brief moments it nearly turned sour for Aldershot as Dover had a goal disallowed for an offside call by the linesman. Dan Holman was the culprit as he stuck the ball into the back of the Aldershot net, there was no complaint from the EX-shots man suggesting the call from the linesman was correct.
The ref blew for half-time to what certainly was a good half from Aldershot. Albeit there was a disallowed goal, but the motive from Chris Barkers men was to attack and certainly a better motive than what was in place before Barkers appointment.
Aldershot started the second half like they ended the first, on top. Further pressure on Dover mounted as Saunders came closer, having his shot just tipped over the bar by Andrew Rafferty followed by Williams heading into the aware and ready Rafferty.
Once again the intention from Aldershot in the game was good. The high line set by Barker and his team mate Wilson looked good and it created less space for the Dover midfield to work in helping Aldershot to hit them on the break.
Stevenson was cautioned for a harsh challenge shortly after but was quickly forgotten as Stevenson was picked out by Hatton who crossed from a free kick. Stevenson was unmarked in the box, as he timed his run to perfection meeting and heading the ball into the opposite corner.
From the goal, Dover went straight into attack mode and created a chance from a set piece, but Phil Smith met it and restored a comfortable calm feeling at the ESS. Dover manager Chris Kinnear made two changes bringing on Stefan Payne and Ricky Modeste as Dover tried to break down the Aldershot defence by introducing more attacking players.
Aldershot’s second goal came from another ball into the box and once again it was Stevenson, who was completely left un-marked by the Dover defence, he calmly placed his header into the opposite corner – just like he did with his first goal. That secured the two goal cushion Aldershot had been fighting for all evening.
Tristian Plummer made his way for Tom Richards and Barker also introduced Damon Lathrope who returned to action for the first time in 4 months! However, Dover scored shortly after the substitutions and it was Sean Francis who squeezed a shot past Smith after some great play from Payne who played the ball to Francis after beating Mcginty with ease, which inevitably led to the goal.
The goal gave Dover a slim lifeline for the remaining final moments of the game. There was a fine save from goalkeeper Smith, parrying out the shot for a corner which led to nothing.
Gibbs made way for McColin and from the substitution Dover pilled on the pressure. Chris Barker and his men played well and kept a solid high line, making it hard for the Kent based side to get through and make a real effort on goal.
Then Aldershot came back and Antonio German gathered the ball well, laying off the ball to Mcginty who picked out the on running McColin who beat Raggett with his sheer pace and slotted neatly into the bottom right hand corner past goalkeeper Rafferty.
The final goal proved to be pivotal as Aldershot held on for the three points but more importantly it created a bigger gap between themselves and Southport, who lie just behind the Shots. The win creates a 6 point gap now and becomes more vital as the Shots have a few very tough games coming up. Macclesfield this Saturday and then Halifax on the 10th of March. Both sides who are currently in a promotion/playoff battle of their own.
MOTM: Jim Stevenson.
Aldershot are away this Saturday. Kick off 3pm.
Listen to reaction from tonight’s game plus more content on Aldershot FC on the Saturday sports show. Every Saturday live on Radio Woking at 2pm
(Photos from the Aldershot Town wevb