Rarely can a goalless draw have been greeted with such joy and optimism, but ultimately a first clean sheet of the season felt like something of a small victory in itself.
Aldershot Town maintained their excellent, unbeaten record at the Don Valley Stadium with a stoic display which earned a valuable and perhaps unexpected point. Rotherham, though, did little to threaten those statistics, as defences dominated for long periods and the feted Millers attack of Le Fondre and Pope were given scant service.
Shorn of the injured Marvin Morgan – fit enough only for a late cameo, coming off the substitutes bench to spurn perhaps Aldershot’s best chance – and the suspended Dave Winfield, The Shots closed ranks and were happy to meet disjointed and low-key opposition.
They started well, too, exploiting Rotherham’s lack of pace at the back, but soon the game settled into its cagey pattern and chances were rare. Grant’s opportunist lob had Warrington scrambling as the ball bounced just past the post, and Donnelly’s curling shot flew over the bar. In reply, Pope’s glancing header flew just over, but, with Le Fondre and Pope increasingly isolated, the home side were justifiably booed off at the break.
Steadily the game improved into the second half but the stalemate persisted. Jaimez-Ruiz made a couple of impressive interventions – particularly a fine save from Nicholas’s downward header – yet Rotherham couldn’t match Aldershot’s two clearest opportunities: Donnelly’s 20-yard free-kick crashed off the base of the post, and, put through at the end of a pacy counter-attack involving Donnelly and Hudson, Morgan hesitated for the split second which saw his shot blocked.
That, effectively, was the end of the game, as Ronnie Moore once again failed to raise his side beyond the mediocre. Jason Dodd, however, was thankful for any signs of progress at the end of another difficult week for Aldershot Town FC. If he can guide his team to the second round of the FA Cup, next weekend, his stock will rise even further.