Louis Soares’ 87th minute effort earned the Shots a point, against league leaders Rochdale, at the Rec on Tuesday evening.
It was a much improved second half performance from the home side, who were outplayed by a sharp, slick Rochdale outfit in the opening period.
Kevin Dillon had a full squad to select from, for the Shots first game of the decade.
However he only made one change – an enforced one at that – to the starting line up from the 4 – 0 Boxing Day victory over Barnet. Anthony Charles replaced the departed Adam Hinshelwood .
The visitors started the game on the front foot, and they dominated the half with their attacking flair.
They came close to taking a third minute lead but Ruiz tipped over O’Grady’s cross cum shot from near the by-line.
The same player easily beat Blackburn in the 20th minute, but his cross into the area was eventually cleared by Sandell.
Dagnall twisted and turned in the box five minutes later, but his subsequent effort was well blocked by Ruiz.
The Shots only real effort at goal during the half came in the 33rd minute.
After Donnelly floated a free kick into the box, a scramble ensued before Charles stabbed his effort well wide.
Marlon Jackson was showing some inspirational flashes, and Grant was working hard in a lone furrow up front, but the Shots were being negated as an attacking force.
The Dale should have taken the lead in the 36th minute. After a neat 1-2 Dagnall went clear of the home defence, but he dragged his effort wide when he should have hit the target.
Just before the break Rundle cut inside but he was thwarted by a superb block tackle from Herd.
HALF TIME SHOTS 0 – ROCHDALE 0
Dillon was obviously unimpressed with the first half performance and he made a double substitution at half time.
Morgan and Harding replaced Chalmers and the ineffective Straker respectively, as the Shots went to a 4 – 4- 2 formation.
The Shots stepped up the tempo and were looking a different side.
In the 52nd minute, Donnelly’s drive was well saved low down by Heaton.
On 63 minutes Donnelly’s slide rule pass found Grant, whose well struck effort was superbly saved by Heaton at his near post.
Then at the other end Dawson’s header from a corner flew just wide.
Shortly after O’Grady fizzed an effort from 25 yards, narrowly wide of the upright.
Soares then had his effort saved at full stretch by the keeper, after good build up play from Morgan and Grant.
Rochdale took the lead in the 75th minute. After a neatly worked move, the ball was slid through for Dagnall, who lofted the ball over the advancing Ruiz.
In the 82nd minute, Bozanic replaced Jackson. The Shots restored parity five minutes later.
When a cross came over, Morgan headed the ball back into the danger area, where Soares was on hand from near the penalty spot, to fire home.