Tuesday 20th September 2011. A typical breezy Autumn evening. However, it was not a typical evening in the town of plucky League Two side Aldershot Town FC. This was the night that Cup fever arrived at the EBB Stadium, along with League One Rochdale....with the prize being a first EVER foray into the last 16 of the Football League Cup.
Prior to the game Manager Dean Holdsworth called for his players and the Shots supporters to 'raise the roof'. There was a surprise on Holdsworth's team sheet....no Anthony Straker.....not even on the bench. Replaced by West Ham loanee Jordan Brown.
After surviving a first minute scramble in their own penalty area Shots setled and made a decent start, Rodman first and then McGlashan going close. The pattern of the first half was mainly Shots on the build up, occasionally going close and Dale breaking, sometimes without a clue, sometimes rather dangerously.
Rankine hit a shot into the ground from close range....then Skipper Ben Herd shot across goal when it looked easier to hit the target. Dale threatened less, but more potently. In Ashely Grimes, they have a lethal finisher. He went close with one effort, which Ross Worner did brilliantly to keep out and then, as half time approached, he latched on to a perfectly weighted through ball and slotted home with aplomb.
The omens didn't look good for Shots.....but Michael Rankine had other ideas.....two minutes into the second half, with his back to goal, he took off, let fly with an overhead kick....and the scores were level!
Then followed a somewhat strange period in the match. Shots were back in it.....Rankine's goal had initially 'raised the roof' as per the game plan......but the quality, the passion and the pace of the game all dropped.
Vinceti came on for McGlashan on the hour and calmly slotted into the midfield, Hylton dropping left, |Rankine alone up front. Dale went close, Worner thwarted Grimes this time though.
Then, suddenly, in the 77th minute a moment of pure brilliance from young Danny Hylton. Shots on the attack, Daren Jones tried to curl a shot through a crowded area, ball half cleared. Onto it in a flash was Danny, no thought of bringing it down, just a cleanly struck volley and the ball rocketed sweetly high into the net! Edwards, in goal for Dale.....probably didnt even see it. A beautiful crisply struck ripsnorter of a volley!
2-1 Shots! You had to pinch yourself to believe it. Shots played sensibly beyond that wonderful moment, calmly running down the clock, largely in posession of the ball.....tick...tock....had the clock stopped? 88, 89, finally 90 minutes up.....into added time..three minutes of it....tick tock.....corner to Shots...ball held in the corner...tick....tock.......YESSSS!!!!!!! Shots have done it!!!
Through to the last 16......where Man United, Arsenal and several other big premiership clubs await....AWESOME, simply AWESOME!! Well done Shots!!
Shots: Worner 9 Herd 7 Jones 7 Morris 7 Brown(J) 6 McGlashan 6 Guttridge 6 Collins 6 Rodman 8 Hylton 8 Rankine 9
Att 3369 (187 Dale fans)