Frantic! Fiesty! Frenetic! Foul! Fun! Actually, it was all of the above! Crawley's thuggish tactics apart, this had everything you would want from a football match. Shots stood up to the battle in an amazing night of football (and more) at the Broadfield Stadium and eventually came away with a well earned 2-2 draw.
Dean Holdsworth's charges (along with the match officals) had to withstand constant cheating, diving and general intimidation from Steve Evans well drilled team, but they stood up to the test and at least attempted to get the ball down and play, more than their big budget 'neighbours' did. Shots were never found wanting in terms of their commitment. Indeed, there were TEN yellow cards on the night. The first three went to the home side, before SEVEN different Shots players ended up in the referees notebook too!
It was most definitely not a match for the faint-hearted! Tackles and challenges flew in from the first whistle to the last. Least of all on poor young Adam Mekki, who took a first half battering, was finally replaced on 44 minutes and eventually left the ground on crutches with an achilles injury.
Crawley settled first and bossed the opening few minutes, but Shots took the lead against the run of play. A patient move down the right suddenly gathered momentum and Aaron Morris pulled the trigger with his left foot from 20 yards. It wasnt a great strike, but a deflection wrong footed the keeper and Shots were ahead.
The home side equalised from the penalty spot, after Wilko Risser was penalised for a push. It was a little soft, but Gary Alexander made no mistake with his effort, which just beat Youngs despairing dive.
Tackles flew in at times. At others, 'cute' play from the likes of Alexander and Risser earnt more free kicks. Lots of other little niggles went unoticed or unpunished. The pace of the game never relented from start to finish.
All square at the break then, but more of the same in the second half. Time and again Crawley launched the ball into the Aldershot penalty area. Jones, Bradley, Herd, Young, Risser and Vincenti all cleared their lines at vital times as Shots dug in.....and then, unbelievably, out of nothing, took the lead.
Crawley could only half clear a cross into their box and Vincenti latched onto it with the most cleanly struck 20 yard volley. 2-1 Shots.
Crawley knocked on the door - again and again. Billy Clarke missed an absolute sitter for the home side. More yellow cards followed.
Madjo replaced Risser, who had a storming debut for Shots, brilliantly leading the line for the visitors.
Finally, in the 88th minute, Crawley levelled. To be fair, it had been coming. Clarke eventually notching his first goal for the home side.
But still the action wasnt over and in the closing minutes, Vincenti - twice and Madjo had chances to nick it for Shots.
2-2 it remained though. A cracking match and once again Shots showed great character in the battle. Crawley will be left rueing another vital two points dropped in their quest for another 'expected' promotion.
Shots: Young, Herd, Jones, Bradley, Straker, Mekki (Vincenti), Morris, Payne, Hylton, Doughty (Sinclair), Risser (Madjo). Att: 3017 (452 Shots fans)