One of the East Bank flags proudly announced “Fortress Rec” ahead of the kick off and the players certainly played their part in returning that reputation after the previous management had failed miserably, as The Shots open their 2013-14 home account with a tight victory.
Despite both teams starting with some determination, it wasn’t until the 9-minute when the first real threat was s for either side to produce any real danger to the opposition and it was the home side who took the initiative when Joe Oastler went on a mazy run and was brought down as he was teeing up his effort but Martin Rowlands sent the resulting free kick well over the crossbar and failed to cause the experienced Alan Julian any real concerns.
With 15-minutes on the board Dartford were unlucky not to open the scoring when Lee Nobel connected with a fantastic cross and saw the ball sail passed Glenn Morris in the Aldershot net who thought the effort was going to miss, had a look of utter relief when the ball sailed passed him and thumped off the crossbar, back in to play and much to his delight, it fell to the Shots who were able to lump it up field and out of danger.
On 18-minutes, it was the home team who managed to break the deadlock. After Mark Moseley went on one of his trademark runs, he yet again made himself the space he needed and launched the perfect ball to Brett Williams who forced a glancing header passed Julian and in to the back of the net.
Shortly after the re-start, Emmanuel Oyeleke fancied his chances of getting pm the score-sheet and extending his sides lead and he unleashed a half-decent shot from 25-yards out, but his effort failed to cause the visitors any problems.
With 31-minutes gone, Molesley once again got himself into the thick of the action and proved too hard to handle. Another fantastic run enabled him to open space but the home fans unfortunately saw his resulting shot skimmed off the post and out to safety.
Both side continued to battle but it was the Darts who ended the half the stronger team and some neat play saw them peppering the Aldershot defence but to their credit, The Shots dug deep and managed to stifle their visitors efforts, ensuring they took their narrow lead in to the break.
HALF TIME: Aldershot Town 1 Dartford 0
Aldershot began the second-half attacking the East Bank but with neither side making any changes at the break, play remained evenly matched with neither side having much in the way of threats in front of the goal.
Matt Paterson began to allow his frustrations to show with 54-minutes played when his constant running continued to fail to be enough to push his side further ahead, leaving the referee to have words with him and the game continued to remain a tight affair.
Max Cornhill almost talked himself in to a yellow card on the hour after Dartford players surrounded the referee after he awarded a foul in favour of The Shots after Oyeleke was brought down, but common sense approach saw the referee keeping his book in his pocket and offering further words of advice to the perpetrator.
With Rowlands on hand to chip the ball forwards, Oyeleke finally got the goal that his performance deserved when his effort took a slight deflection which wrong footed Julian and nestled in the back of the net to give The Shots a two-goal advantage on 61-minutes.
In fairness to the visitors, the Darts continued to press and Max Nobel made way for Danny Harris on 63-minutes
On 75-minutes, Paterson made way for Jordon Roberts who attempted to make an immediate impact opting to take a shot from 25-yards out rather than run towards the area and it sailed harmlessly wide.
The Darts tried to make a formation change with 11-minutes to go when Alex Woodyard replaced Jason Prior and Ryan Hayes made way for Nathan Collier but the game continued in much the same tempo with both sides matching each other, which was pleasing the home supporters somewhat more.
On 85 minutes, manager Andy Scott opted to give Rowlands a rest and brought on Aaron Wickham for his home debut and just two minutes of normal time remaining, Roberts worked hard and won the ball and managed to put it in to the danger area and Wickham bundled it home from close range.
With two minutes remaining, Scott gave a debut to 17-year old defender Meshack Douglas as he came on for Oastler in order to gain some valuable match experience and the home side upped their efforts to end the match strongly and the final whistle brought much relief all round, leaving the club just six points to claw back having begun the season with a -10 deficit.
FULL TIME: Aldershot Town 3 Dartford 0
Aldershot Town: Morris, Oastler (88 min for Douglas), Goodman, Webster, Barker, Rowlands (84 min for Wickham), Stanley ©, Oyeleke, Molesley, B Williams, Paterson (75 min for Roberts).
Subs: Wickham (84 min), Roberts (75 min), Brown, Douglas (88 min), L Williams.
Dartford: Julian, Clark, Burns, Mitchel-King, Cornhill, Hayes (79 min for Collier), Nobel (63 min for Harris), Bradbrook ©, Rogers, Birchall and Prior (79 min for Woodyard).
Subs: Harris (63 min), Porter, Wellham, Woodyard (79 min) and Collier (79 min).
Attendance: 2138 (including 173 from Dartford).
Referee: Nick Kinseley.
You can read the official Aldershot Town match report here.
No Dartford match report can be found.