Aldershot Town 2 Southport 2
Aldershot boss Terry Brown had good reason to fear Southport despite their lowly status. But for dropped points against bottom half opposition Aldershot they would currently be in the play off berths.
However, with two changes to the lineup Brown's charges were in no mood to indulge a Southport side that had held Oxford at the New Manor.
Terry Brown lamented the sides poor defending. "Individual errors have cost us dearly today. In the first half I couldn't have asked for a better performance but in the second it was a farce. I'm very frustrated."
The Shots opened up the game with all guns blazing. On four minutes Curtis Osano, returning to the starting lineup, released John Grant down the flank. He held the ball up beautifully before playing a wall pass with Mark Molesey to get into the box. Ready to fire from six yards Stephen Rowland appeared from nowhere and tackled Grant with conviction normally associated with Twickenham rugby ground.
A minute later Rowland thwarted Aldershot again. Ryan Williams left Chris Lane for dead and delivered a low ball to Mark Molesey, seven yards from goal he showed great control before driving into the bottom right corner.
Miraculously Rowland again appeared from thin air to clear from the goalline. The Shots mounting pressure finally told in the sixth minute, Darren Barnard's cross from the left found Grant at the back post.
He neatly chested the ball down before driving into the bottom corner from five yards, so score his eighth of the season.
Southport's response was immediate. The sprightly Lee Hoolickin squared to Dino Maamria, but the midfielder failed to find the target from 18 yards.
Maamria then nearly gifted Aldershot with a second goal on eight minutes. The Tunisian passed straight to Ryan Williams 40 yards from goal, he raced clear of the Sandgrounders defence and drove to the near post and into the net. Unfortunately for the boisterous Shot fans it was the wrong side of the goal.
In the 27th minute Roland again came to Southport's rescue. David Lee crossed from the left perfectly to tee up Williams. He attempted to tap home from two yards but was thwarted by the former Port Vale player diving at full extent across the face of the goal line to deny Aldershot a certain goal.
On the evidence of the first half Aldershot should have scored five or six but were easily seduced by the control the exerted over a desperately poor Southport side.
Seemingly out for the count Southport produced a miraculous second-half recovery. Fullback Dean Smith was clearly uncomfortable in the middle of the defence, and but for some amazing glove work from Nikki Bull could have lost.
Maamria deservedly equalised on the hour mark, Carl Baker carved the Shots defence in half and the former Stevenage player rounded Bull to slot home.
Southport appeared to have grabbed all three points when Blakeman forced the ball in off Rhys Day after some shocking defending by Smith.
Amazingly the game took another turn in injury time when Gayle found Grant at the back post to head home from a Barnard free kick grabbing a share of the points for a disappointing Aldershot.
Paul Cook commented: "If you'd offered me 2-2 at half time I'd have bitten your hand off. After 45 minutes we should have been on the bus back home with a cup of tea. We were dead and buried. It was a shambles and we were abysmal. I'm glad in the second half we showed what we are about and hopefully we can push on from here."