WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS 1 ALDERSHOT TOWN FC 1
(after extra time) Wolves won 7-6 on penalties.
Shots kicked off last season at a former Premiership ground (Bradford) and they did so again this season...at Molineux, the home of the once mighty Wolverhampton Wanderers.
The home side may have been relegated last season, but they kicked off this one with a new manager and a new stand, The Stan Cullis Stand. They will have begun this season with renewed hope, but there was little sign of those hopes being fulfilled in a match in which they were matched by their League Two opponents throughout. Wolves had not won at home in a competetive match since December 2011, so were desperate to end that run against Shots and played what was pretty close to their strongest side.
However, following their win at West Ham in the same competition last season, Holdsworth's side were never going to be overawed by this occasion and they acquitted themselves superbly throughout this match, defending well when required and creating both more and the better chances.
ALDERSHOT TOWN 0 WARTA POZNAN 0
In their new all black third kit, Aldershot Town kicked off their 21st season at The EBB Stadium against a European outfit. How far we've come since the likes of Clapton and Collier Row!
Dean Holdsworth named a 25 man squad for this friendly, including trialist's Rob Sinclair (squad number already?), Jack Mills, Sam Murphy and 16 year old goalkeeper Luke Williams. Whilst his starting line-up in defence (Herd, Lancashire, Brown, Tonkin) may well be the one that will kick off the 2012-13 League Two season, the Shots manager named young Reece Connolly up top, in front of a five man midfield which included Jordan Roberts out left and Adam Mekki on the right. Craig Stanley made his Shots debut in the centre, alongside Aaron Morris, with Josh Payne the more advance of the midfield trio.
The first half was a pretty even affair, the visitors probably shading it. They certainly made the most chances, but Jamie Young picked up where he left off last season, in mean mood. Payne spurned Shots best opportunity, showing neat footwork to create a chance for himself, only to then blaze wide from just seven yards. Roberts and Mekki also had attempts on goal, neither of which troubled the visiting keeper.
Holdsworth made wholesale changes at half time, with only Young, Herd and Tonkin surviving to start the second period. He also changed to a 4-4-2 formation with Rankine and Madjo up top and Guy Branston coming on for his debut partnered in defence by Doug Bergqvist. Across the middle were Rodman, Sinclair, Vincenti and Hylton.
Shots looked a tad brighter going forward and on the hour, Danny Hylton's bright run and pass found Guy Madjo timing his run to expertly pierce the Poznan defence, only to have the ball plucked off his toes as he attempted to round Poznan's substitue keeper. On 70 minutes, Rob Sinclair's strong run and shot fizzed narrowly wide.
Williams, Murphy and Mills got their run out for the final 11 minutes and Holdsworth, the 'master tactician' (there should be an App for that ;-) had successfully managed to give 22 players some pitch time, with just one stoppage during play. Only Bubb, Barton and Clement missed out.
As a spectacle, it wasnt the greatest of games to watch, but a useful workout for all with no injury concerns.
Off the pitch, the talk around the ground was of Bradley Bubb's apparent season long move to Woking and the distinct possibility of a League One striker coming in....fingers crossed. Read what you like into that ;-)
Keep up to date with all of The Shots pre-season fixtures ahead of the competitive games getting underway in August:
Fri 13 Jul 12: First Team - away vs Basingstoke Town: Postponed (waterlogged pitch).
Sat 14 Jul 12: Shots XI - away vs Alton Town: Drew 1-1
Tue 17 Jul 12: Shots XI – away vs Farnborough: Won 2-1
Fri 20 Jul 12: First Team – home vs Warta Poznan, kick off 7:45pm.
Tue 24 Jul 12: First Team – home vs QPR, kick off 7pm.
Sat 28 Jul 12: First Team – home vs Crystal Palace, kick off 3pm.
Wed 01 Aug 12: First Team – home vs Portsmouth, kick off 7.45pm.
Sat 04 Aug 12: First Team – away vs Woking, kick off 3pm.
Capital Cup: Sat 11 Aug 12 – away vs Wolves, kick off 3pm.
League Two: Sat 18 Aug 12 - away vs Plymouth Argyle, kick off 3pm.
Deano's Xl 6 Nicky's Xl 6 (Team Deano won on pens!)
A host of former Premiership, ex Shots, ex Saints & ex Wimbledon players -plus a few fans, were on show at the EBB Stadium for 'The Knights Cup'. A footballing battle between a Dean Holdsworth Xl and one led by Shots Commercial Manager Nicky Banger. Ex Shots manager Terry Brown returned to the dugout to lead Holdsworth's side on the evening.
The opening minutes were pretty free flowing, with chances at both ends. Perhaps the biggest 'star' (or shall we be polite and say most well known) Matt Le Tissier had a couple of testers - just finding his range. Then Holdsworth himself could have opened the scoring, 'shimmying'...yep, honestly (a tenner you said didn't you Deano?)...before striking the ball across goal. In it though, was the formidable figure of former Wimbledon keeper Dave Beasant and he gathered the shot comfortably.
Then, for Banger's 'Blues', the goals began to flow.
CREWE ALEXANDRA 2 ALDERSHOT TOWN 2
Aldershot Town signed off their 2011-12 season with a 2-2 draw at Gresty Road, home of Crewe Alexandra, for whom the point was more than enough to see them into the League Two Play Offs.
With just 281 Shots fans amongst almost 7,000 in the Stadium, Dean Holdsworth's team played their part in a lively game and even dared to lead for much of the second half.
Crewe took the lead in the 4th minutes, thanks to Ajay Leitch-Smith's 8th goal of the season. On 26 minutes, Shots lost impressive young midfielder Aaron Morris to an ankle ligament injuury. He was replaced by Mark Molesley.
On the half hour mark, Crewe gifted Shots an equaliser when Harry Davis headed into his own net, following a Ben Herd free kick.
As the first half drew to a close, Mark Molesley picked up the ball 25 yards out an curled in a beauty to put Shots 2-1 up.
That lead should really have been extended in the 53rd minute, when breaking on goal, Adam Mekki rounded the Crewe goalkeeper, only to then shoot wide of the open net from just 6 yards.
The miss was to prove costly, as on 76 minutes, the home side levelled, Luke Moore's 25 yard effort deflecting off Troy Brown and into Jamie Youngs net.
By this stage, Oxford were 2-0 down at Poirt Vale and even if they had been defeated, Crewe would still have made the play-off's.
The remainder of the match passed without any key incidents and the point gained by Shots saw them finish in 11th place in League Two.
Shots: Young Herd Jones Brown Straker Mekki (Bergqvist) Vincenti Morris (Molesley) Payne Hylton Connolly (Risser) Subs not used Clement, Madjo. Att 6,919 (281 Shots fans)
FOOTNOTE: Congratulations to Dean Holdsworth, Matt Bishop and the entire ATFC playing squad and staff, on a highly satisfactory season. The 66 points Shots earned saw them fall just 6 short of a play off position. Add to that, financial stability and a wonderful Carling Cup run. Beating West Ham, knocking out two other teams from a higher level and then hosting Europe's finest.....the might of Manchester United at the EBB Stadium, not to mention the trip to Hillsborough, where Shots belied their League Two status for much of the 90 minutes against a side that today secured promotion to The Championship.
Shotsweb wish a swift recovery to Aaron Morris - we look forward to seeing you back in a Shots shirt next season, along with other long term absentees Alex Rodman, Ross Worner and Michael Rankine. We look forward to seeing the likes of Reece Connolly, Doug Berqvist, Jordan Roberts and Adam Mekki continue to develop under Deano and Bish. We look forward to hopefully a full season of goals from Guy Madjo, to hopefully seeing the likes of Danny Hylton, Ben Herd and Darren Jones signing new contracts and to welcoming the new signing's that Holdsworth indicated in his post match interview are on their way.
Most of all, we look forward to continuing our love affair with Aldershot Town FC, whoever pulls on the Red and Blue shirt!
On behalf of all at Shotsweb, to all Shots fans around the world, have a great summer and see you all aboard the Rollercoaster ride that will begin again in August!!
ALDERSHOT TOWN 2 ROTHERHAM UNITED 2
In a breath taking match at the EBB, Shots came so, so close to keeping themselves in the play-off hunt going into the final game of the season.
Ultimately though, with Crewe's late equaliser at Torquay, it mattered not and both teams involved in this thriller are now resigned to playing in League Two next season, following a 2-2 draw.
However, it could have been so different, had Reece Connolly taken one of two guilt edged chances in the dying minutes.
Rothertham took the lead in the 10th minute, following a harsh penalty, given against Darren Jones, who was named both Shots Players Player and Supporters Player of the season prior to the match. Gareth Evans sent Jamie Young the wrong way from the spot.
Shots levelled 10 minutes later, Peter Vincenti following up Guy Madjo's parried shot from close range.
However, the visitors regained their lead in the 30th minute, young Sam Hoskins chipping young from inside the area.
Shots drew level again in the 57th minute, Madjo heading home from close range.
After that, it was all Shots. They won approximately 10 corners in an ongoing assault that could, would and should have ended with a winning goal, but didnt. Jordan Roberts was sent off late on for two yellow cards as was Rotherham's Newey.
Congratulations to Dean Holdsworth and his charges on their superb second half of the season and who knows, if this squad can be kept together, Shots may indeed reach those play offs again next season.
Shots: Young Herd Jones Morris Straker Molesley (Mekki) Vincenti Payne Hylton Madjo (Connolly) Risser (Roberts) Subs not used: Clement Bergqvist. Att: 2578 (219 visiting fans)