ALDERSHOT TOWN’S opening foray into the Skrill Premier ended in relative success after they picked up a point at Blundell Park, despite deserving all three.
There was a nice buzz around Blundell Park for the opening fixture of the new season which saw The Shots get off to a more than confident start.
The opening chance of the season fell to the Mariners Joe Colbeck with just three minutes on the clock when he connected with a poor clearance from Glenn Morris in the Aldershot net, however the midfielder was unable to capitalise from his 40-yard effort.
While The Shots fielded a hastily assembled side, Grimsby had their fair share of new faces and perhaps lacked a little of the polish that they’ll certainly find as the season goes on, but boss Andy Scott will be encouraged from the effort that his side produced.
Grimsby will insist that they tried to play football, it was evident that Scott’s men were capable of playing the physical game when needed and broke up many of their hosts plays as they attempted to play the ball out of their own defence, and The Shots quickly started looking lively on the counter attack.
The tactics proved a success and other than Morris being forced to head a back pass of his own line with quarter of an hour gone, he was rarely threatened during the first half as the side produced a solid first half which caused the home fans into near silence.
With ten minutes to the interval, The Shots began to take more control of the game but despite an injury which saw Adam Mekki stretched off on 41-minutes, it was the visitors who went into the break the happier team in what was more akin to a pre-season friendly.
HALF TIME: Grimsby Town 0 Aldershot Town 0
The home side made a change at the break with midfielder Scott Neilson making way for striker Lenell John-Lewis but it was the Shots who began the second half the livelier side.
Early Shots pressure saw the ball in the back of the Mariners net on 52-minutes, however the referee had already blown and the scores remained level.
The visitors continued to pressure and six-minutes later, just as the home fans were growing restless, things turned to despair for the home team when Joe Oastler found the ball fall perfectly to him inside the box and he dispatched a fierce left-footed half-volley which flew into the back of the home side’s net with impressive ease.
Alex Rodman was introduced against his former employers on 73-minutes with Scott Kerr making way for the former Shots player, as the home side looked to change things around and with The Shots continuing to look the better side, the home side made another change with nine minutes remaining when Liam Hearn made way for Ross Hannah.
Seconds later a lunging Shots clearance saw the referee pointing at the spot and half-hearted home side appeals saw the referee awarding a penalty, much to the amazement of the visitors.
Having just come on, striker Ross Hannah stepped up and sent his powerful effort straight down the centre of the box and passed Morris who had committed to diving to his right, and the home side grabbed an undeserved equaliser.
Boyed by the goal, the home supporters lifted the volume and the Mariners came close on 83-minutes but to the visitor’s credit, The Shots didn’t buckle and dug in even deeper to preserve their efforts.
With Aldershot’s side looking tired, Matt Paterson made way for Aaron Wickham with three minutes of normal time remaining and The Shots continued to push and on 92 minutes, Craig Stanley unleashed a fantastic low effort which James McKeown could only force around the post for a corner, which ultimately came to nothing.
The home side had a free kick inside the Aldershot D as the added time when in to added time, but the kick sailed harmlessly over the crossbar and Andy Scott’s men gained a vital point against a side who will certainly be in the running come next May.
FULL TIME: Grimsby Town 1 Aldershot Town 1
Grimsby Town: McKeown, Bignot, Pearson, McDonald, Thomas, Disley ©, Kerr (73 mins), McLaughlin, Colbeck, Hearn (79 min) and Neilson (45 min).
Subs: Hatton, John-Lewis (45 min for Neilson), Hannah (79 min for Hearn), Thanoj and Rodman (73 mins for Kerr).
Aldershot Town: Morris, Oastler, Goodman, Webster, Barker, Molesley (78 min), Stanley ©, Rowlands, Mekki (+ 41 min), Paterson (87 min) and Williams.
Subs: Oyeleke (41 min for Mekki), Wickham (87 min for Paterson), Roberts (78 min for Molesley), Brown and L Williams.
Attendance: 4037 (including 174 from Aldershot).
Referee: Darren Handley.
You can read the official Aldershot Town match report here.
You can read the official Grimsby Town match report here.