Saturday, 28 April 2012

Aldershot Town 2 v Rotherham United 2 - npower League 2

Unless Eldershit Town really were playing Rotterdam,
somebody needs to buy a few replacement light bulbs

Saturday 28th April 2012
at the Ebb Stadium, AKA Recreation Ground
npower League 2
Aldershot Town (1) 2
Peter Vincenti 20, Guy Madjo 56
Rotherham United (2) 2
Gareth Evans 11 pen, Sam Hoskins 30
Admission £17 Programme £3 Attendance 2,578 (219 away fans)
Sent off:
Tom Dewey (Rotherham) 73, Jordan Roberts (Aldershot) 80
Aldershot Town:
Young, Herd, Straker, Jones, Hylton, Morris, Vincenti, Molesley (Roberts 66 mins), Madjo (Connolly 80 mins), Risser (Mekki 55 mins), Payne.
Unused Subs - Bergqvist, Clement.
Rotherham United:
Warrington, Tonge, Newey, Evans, Taylor (Harrison 86 mins), Hoskins (Cadogan 90 mins), Schofield, Bradley, Mullins, Pringle (Wood 76 mins), Revell.
Unused Subs - Taylor, Naylor.
He went where!?
I know, I wonder myself sometimes.
A 10th v 11th npower League 2 fixture, where the winner could have ... well maybe could have at a push, scraped into the play offs by the skin of their teeth, if results elsewhere had gone their way.
But they didn't.
And the game finished all square anyway, meaning the visitors ended the day, still in 10th place, while the home side remained in 11th.
How much more excitement could you possibly need to entice you 177 miles down south into Hampshire, on a grim, wet and rainy Saturday afternoon, than that mouthwatering scenario?
Get a move on you men in white coats, I'm not even going to put up a token resistance when you finally come to take me away.
In March 1992, Aldershot F.C. became the first Football League team to fold during the football season, since Accrington Stanley out of business way back in in 1962.
Aldershot Town was formed later the same year and they started out competing in the Isthmian League Third Division.
So it's arguable whether Aldershot Town were a completely new team circa 1992, or a reborn club, resurrected from the ashes of the originally club and carrying on where they left off.
Either way, they gained promotion 'back' into the Football League some 16 years later, when they won the Conference title at the end of the 2007-08 season, having already been Play Off runners up in 2003-04 and beaten semi finalists in 2004-05.
I last visited the Recreation ground in the early 1980's and had wondered what changes might have been made to the now grandiosely named Ebb Stadium during the interim years.
Upon arrival, I discovered the answer to that line of enquiry was - virtually none whatsoever.
There are a few new looking plastic seats and you can't see quite as much of the match action for free from the adjacent parkland any more, but pretty much, the majority of the ground seems to have been restored exactly the way it always was, for old times sake and posterity.
Just like the last time I was here, almost 30 years ago, you still enter this three sided ground (it isn't a stadium by any stretch of the imagination) through a row of turnstile on Aldershot High Street, opposite The Crimea public House and then follow the signposts to your designated area of the ground, where a plentiful supply of stewards will check your tickets to make sure you aren't in the wrong place.
The stewards were all friendly and helpful, unlike the fascists I've encountered at certain other grounds and they didn't have any objections to me exercising my 'right to roam' during the game, which gave 'the Rec' a homely, welcoming feel and, dare I say it, gives the place a touch of non league warmth and charm.
I am a bit of a Luddite when it comes to certain football traditions.
Though I can see the practicality of post Taylor report, soulless, identikit 'family friendly' football stadia, with all of their straight lines, unspoilt views, symmetry and shiny mod cons.
And I must confess that I do enjoy a bit of comfort from time to time these days, as old age and decrepitude rapidly sets in.
But, I still really enjoy visiting proper old fashioned football grounds and do wallow in the warts n' all nostalgic splendour of places like the Recreation Ground.
Of course, this being a 'big time' Football League arena, Aldershot and Rotherham fans were segregated.
The visiting fans had one block of seats, one third of the covered East Bank behind the goal and a section of open terrace alongside the pitch to choose from.
And if standing outside in the 'piss-istent' rain is your vantage point of choice, while the majority of other visiting fans are taking shelter from the current 'drought' the nation is in the grip of under a nearby roof, then that is your prerogative ;-)
The game was end to end stuff and as evenly balanced as the final score suggests.
A chick check on the BBC results site on my phone on the way home, confirmed that possession had been split 51%/49% in Aldershot's favour.
It really was that close and could've gone either way.
Rotherham had the better of the early exchanges, but after getting their second equaliser of the afternoon, Aldershot looked more threatening late in the game.
But the draw was a fair result and the crowd, though disappointed that the post match maths meant neither side had forced their way into the play offs, had been treated to a cracking game of football and the kind of entertainment that threatens to give 'pointless, mid table, end of season fare' type fixtures, a good reputation.
Darren Jones was presented, on the pitch, with Aldershot's player of the year award prior to kick off. He 'celebrated' by putting ten minutes of Rotherham pressure to an abrupt end in the opening stages, by flattening Gareth Evans inside the penalty area right in front of the referee. Evans got up and, well, the following pictures say it all ...
(Above) Gareth Evans tees up his 11th minute spot kick ...
... and fires the visitors in front (below)
Rotherham continued to look dangerous, but Aldershot counter attacked down the left flank.
The initial danger was half cleared, but Danny Hylton and Mark Molesley combined to put Guy Madjo through into a clear goalscoring position ... his effort was blocked, but Peter Vincenti was on hand to knock the ball home from six yards out to equalise for the Shots.
Vincenti played three games on loan for the mighty Stags, Mansfield Town FC last season, so he obviously picked up that kind of striking prowess while he was at Field Mill, as you do ;-)
Rotherham were back in front on 30 minutes, when Sam Hoskins, out on the right side of the box, lobbed Jamie Young from out on the wing and scored off the inside of the left hand upright with the Aldershot keeper wrong footed, back peddling at clutching at fresh air.
Some people might have suggested that Hoskins goal was a cross cum shot that had an element of luck attached to it, but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and say he meant it.
Jamie Young looked like a competent enough shot stopper, tipping the ball round the frame of his goal and parrying a few efforts away, but he didn't seem too keen on actually holding onto the ball.
Possibly that was because of the wet and greasy conditions and he isn't usually that way inclined, but it certainly contributed to several 'bomb-scare' moments over the course of the game.
That said though, he pulled off a great save moments before the break, when he tipped an Alex Revell half volley over the bar at full stretch.
After the break, Aldershot attacked more and grew stronger as the game went on, though the visitors had started the second half pretty much as they had finished the first.
Danny Hylton, the home sides top scorer had a couple of half chances as Dean Holdsworth's side went in search of an equaliser, but neither effort really troubled Rotherham's veteran keeper Andy Warrington.
For the benefit of those who were privy to the discussion on the North Stand terrace, I've checked it up and he was born in 1976, so the 'veteran' is actually nowhere near as ancient as any of those of us who were debating his age.
On 55 minutes Aldershot got a corner out on the right, after a bit of too-ing and fro-ing, Josh Payne put a probing cross into the box, which found Peter Vincenti, who put the ball across the face of the Rotherham goal where Guy Madjo was on hand to head home from close range.
Hoskins netted again for Rotherham, but his header was disallowed, after the linesman spotted an offside infringement and raised his flag.
Though it was never a dirty game, it finished ten aside, when firstly, Tom Newey, the Millers left back, already sat on a yellow card, clattered into Adam Mekki and got his marching orders.
And then shortly afterwards, Jason Roberts saw red too, when minutes after getting booked, he mistimed a kick in the Rotherham box and got a second yellow for a foul that was more clumsy than malicious.
Either way it was still a foul.
Aldershot substitute Reece Connolly had two chances late in the game, to steal all three points from Rotherham United and their 'ever popular' manager Steve Evans, but he went agonisingly close and both sides had to settle for a point apiece.
Great game, a smashing rough and ready olde' world ground and a very worthwhile and enjoyable trip, on what was a horrible afternoon weather-wise.
Don't be alarmed, the one on the right isn't actually a player

Elsewhere: Mansfield beat Kidderminster, but Luton's victory at Fleetwood, meant the in form Hatters and not the Harriers had clinched the last BSBP play off spot anyway.
Mansfield will play York over two legs (bring it on!), while Wrexham face Luton.
Gainsborough Trinity pulled off a great result, winning 3-2 at Altrincham, to set up a play off semi v FC Halifax Town.
Retford United drew 2-2 at NCEL Premier Division leaders Bridlington Town and will be champions if they can beat Thackley in their last remaining fixture.
Harworth Colliery drew 1-1 with Easington United in the CMFL Northern Division.