Nico makes changes to the line-up/formation, but United struggle to contain a quality Aldershot team, who are comfortably worth the three points. For all of the Shots pressure we do have our moments, and almost threaten to nick a point at the end. There’s also more officiating controversy, but United are simply not good enough to get a result; with far too much time for the home team on the ball and wobbles at the back without the injured Gowling.
Higgins 6 Anderson 5 McGinty 5 Chaney 6
Lee 5 Young 6 Klukowski 5 Reid 6
Gray 5 Keating 4
Subs: Pittman 7 Gosling 7 Fallon 6
Man of the Match:
Easy choice! Ryan makes some cracking saves to keep us in the game in a one-sided first half, and misses the protection of not only Gowling but also Lathrope. Clarke is unlucky with the third, which could easily have been ruled out for a foul and he remonstrates hard with the ref after the final whistle! The experienced stopper is already proving a very good signing.
Pittman and Gosling
The introduction of the two subs instantly improves our play, with more movement and skill on show; JP chips in his first goal of the season, whilst Jake provides sweet touches and crosses into the box. Both should start against Gateshead.
YOUNG 9 MINS
A free kick is given 20 yards out central and there’s only one man likely to take it! Luke curls a lovely right footer round the wall and past the goalkeeper. The vocal Yellow Army behind the goal celebrate.
PITTMAN 90 MINS
Late in the game we try to rally and Reidy swings a wonderful ball into the area which is glanced in by JP to give us some hope!
The Tactics Board:
Nicho rejigs the formation to a more conventional 442, with Reid and Lee brought in to bolster up the wings. Unfortunately Young looks uncomfortable in midfield alongside Yan, with Damon missed as an anchor to help the defence as we struggle to win back the ball. Aldershot find it far too simple to make headway and as a unit the whole TU team fail to push up and pressure the opposition. The combinations on both wings and upfront do not make the desired impact either, so it’s back to the drawing board for Kevin!
Aldershot play open and attacking which we struggle to stop, they keep a high line and dominate possession. The stand out players for me are James Rowe who is a live wire attacker and confident striker Shamir Fenelon. Overall they should have the ability to mount a promotion challenge this season so there is no shame losing to them, and we did actually expose the odd hole at the back on our rare forays forward!
Second game, second officiating controversy! I actually think the ref was a step up from the Tranmere one (not hard I guess!), and he generally makes the right calls – even if some of the yellow cards are a bit harsh. The Reidy disallowed goal decision is made by the linesman, and going by the body language of both sets of players it was a surprise. We’ll all know more about that when the highlights are on the website! Shots third could also have been disallowed – I had a closer look on that one and it looked okish to me, a 50-50 one where many of the refs would have sided with the goalkeeper. Not this time unfortunately!
Mid-way through the second half we get a second wind, with Gosling and Pittman giving us new impetus. Reidy glances in a header and we are in ecstasy down the other end. It’s not to be as the linesman is flagging and after a long conversation with the ref the goal doesn’t stand. It ends up being our best chance of getting a result as Shots seize back control of the match and steel a third to seal the three points.
Poor Ruairi has one of the quietest games you’re likely to witness! His combination with Gray just doesn’t look right, mainly because they are very similar players and also because there is little quality service from midfield. He barely gets a kick of the ball as the Shots defenders marshall him and James confidently. Unsuprisingly he is subbed for JP after 62 minutes, and will hope for better games going forward!
Overall the score-line does flatter us, with Aldershot superior in most areas and United very poor at the start of the second half. We simply lack the intensity and confidence to match them. Also the importance of Gowling is clearly evident as the defence struggles in his absence. On the plus side we score a couple of goals and at times the additional width does give us more options going forward – we also show some resilience eventually in the second half. Shots will probably beat most teams at home this season, so it’s just time to dust ourselves off and move onto Gateshead (hopefully with Josh back in the team)!
PS – Credit to the big travelling Yellow Army (over 300), plenty of noise and encouragement for the lads as usual.
Gateshead Away 12th August 3pm KO