In an often exciting, but always frustrating afternoon at the EBB Stadium, Shots suffered their first home defeat since Dean Holdsworth took charge.
With Alex Rodman injured and Jermaine McGlashan deemed only fit enough to sit on the bench, Holdsworth gave a home debut to Lincoln loanee Albert Jarrett. Shots began playing a 4-4-1-1, with Peter Vincenti once again linking midfield and attack.
The visitors were the more lively from the off and should have been two up in the first ten minutes. The returning Mark Richards broke clear after a mishit clearance from Darren Jones...but oddly elected to pass wide to Tom Pope, who's eventual shot from a more acute angle was blocked by Shots skipper Anthony Charles...as he desperately tried to get back to cover for his partner's mistake. Then just moments later, Simon Grand lunged in rather naively on the half way line and left Vale winger Lewis Haldane with a clear run to the by-line. Haldane pulled the ball back to the completely unmarked Pope, who had merely to tap home. However, he stoped the ball, controlled it, then somehow skewed his shot against the post and it rebounded into the welcome arms of Shots keeper Jamie Young.
Vincenti and then Hylton got decent efforts in for Shots....but Vale then took the lead in the 25th minute.....a scrambled effort.....by John McCombe.
Shots lacked guile, shape and any kind of rythmn. With half an hour gone, Holdsworth changed formation to 4-4-2....Small was dropped out wide, Vincenti and Hylton up front and Jarrett wide left. In the final five minutes of the first half, Shots finally began to settle and threatened the Vale goal on two occasions. First Small's flicked header set Vincenti through on the right, but an excellent saving tackle from Exodus Geohaghan robbed him of the ball just as he went to pull the trigger. Then Shots best effort of the match....a good move, ending with an amazing effort from who came from nowhere to send a flying volley over the helpless Vale keeper.....only for it to rebound off the crossbar.
Any renewed hope for Shot fans was short lived though. Vale should have doubled their lead in the opening minute, Richards somehow blazing over from five yards. In the 51st minute, they did double their lead and the least said about the goal the better for Aldershot. The defending was non existent as Vale attacked down the left, floated in a cross and Richards rose unmarked to head home.
Sills and McGlashan came on for Shots......which immediately lifted the rest of the side. Then a bizaare incident. Hylton chased a through ball and was impeded by Vale keeper Tomlinson in the area....both missed it, the ball trickled on toward goal and was cleared off the line. Penalty Shots, keeper only booked. Long delay, eventually Charles took it but Tomlinson, who should not have still been on the pitch saved. It was Shots fifth miss out of five spot kicks this season.
On 68 minutes Shots pulled a goal back, a neat trick, good close control and a poked finish by Vincenti from close range. Hopes were again raised. But again they were short lived. Shots failed to gain any real momentum and despite five minutes added time, they failed to get another effort on goal. The game fizzled out and Shots miserable run now extends to seven games without a win.
Shots: Young Herd Jones Charles Grand Jarrett (McGlashan) Guttridge Harding Hylton Vincenti Small (Sills). Att: 2506 with 220 away fans