Aldershot Town match report
match report by Rupert Cane
Kingstonian put in a spirited performance against National League Aldershot in the third round of the FA Trophy but despite taking a deserved lead, two cheap goals conceded in the second half ensured it was the Hampshire side who advanced.
The K’s were assured in possession throughout, dominating the ball against a side who ply their trade two leagues higher. Daniel Ajakaiye expertly headed us in front from Rhys Murrell-Williamson’s cross in the 38th minute, and we might have gone 2-0 up early in the second period. Jason Banton’s shot was tipped on to the post and Ajakaiye could not cleanly connect with the follow-up.
We were punished twice in quick succession. First, Ollie Cook cleared the ball against Jacob Berkeley-Agyepong and it rebounded into the net, and then Simon Cooper succeeded only in lobbing Rob Tolfrey when trying to clear the ball as the Shots threatened to break. It proved the decider despite late K’s pressure.
In front of a couple of hundred travelling fans in fine voice, the K’s overcame a nervy first 10 minutes and settled into the contest, showcasing the slick passing game that has epitomised Hayden Bird’s teams since his arrival. Nyren Clunis and Murrell-Williamson were regular outlets down the right and one brilliant cross from the former midway through the opening half narrowly evaded a couple of yellow shirts in the box.
Tolfrey was called into meaningful action just once before the interval, stretching to his right to turn Berkeley-Agyepong’s shot round the post on the half-hour. A couple of other Shots shots went wide and down the other end, Clunis drew a decent save from Laurie Walker.
But K’s weren’t to be denied for much longer. Murrell-Williamson found space to whip in a cross that Ajakaiye superbly glanced past Walker for his 14th goal of the season, one he and his team-mates celebrated wildly in front of the travelling faithful.
With K’s in the ascendency, a corner well won by Elliott Buchanan on the stroke of half-time was delivered to the far post where Cook headed narrowly wide. We came even closer to a second goal when play restarted, Banton firing against the post with the rebound falling to Ajakaiye, who couldn’t react in time as the ball bounced off him and trickled wide.
When the Aldershot equaliser arrived on 53 minutes it did so in agonising fashion. K’s tried to pass out from the back under intense pressure, and as Cook tried to scramble the ball away he could only clear it against Berkeley-Agyepong. It could have gone anywhere. To our despair it bounced into the corner of the goal with Tolfrey trapped on the other side having played the initial pass.
Ryan Glover, who had replaced the hitherto anonymous Corie Andrews two minutes before the equaliser, put a good chance just wide almost immediately, but the Shots did complete the turnaround on the hour.
Mark Kinsella played a long pass over the top in search of Alfy Whittingham, and as Cooper stretched to intercept it, he could only loft it over Tolfrey from the edge of the box. If we had to concede two goals to a National League side, this was a disheartening way to do it.
Nonetheless, K’s kept going in search of an equaliser, and it nearly arrived two minutes into stoppage time. A cross was headed clear only as far as sub Aaron Lamont, whose low shot was superbly blocked by Ben Shroll from close to the byline. It proved the final chance and though the afternoon ended in defeat, K’s could most certainly be proud of their efforts.
Aldershot Town: Laurie Walker, Lewis Kinsella, Scott Wagstaff, Alfy Whittingham, Jacob Berkeley-Agyepong, Corie Andrews, Corey Jordan, Mo Sylla, Mikael Ndjoli, Ben Shroll, Jayden Harris.
Subs: Mitch Walker, Ryan Glover (for Corie Andrews, 51m), Giles Phillips, Tommy Willard (for Scott Wagstaff, 69m), Brad Webb (for Mikael Ndjoli, 84m), Lucias Vine, Woody Angell.