Aldershot Town got back to winning ways in the Vanarama National League following two consecutive draws as Carrington Walker reports.
Aldershot captain Scott Rendell led by example at the EBB stadium, as his man-of-the-match performance earned the Shots a vital three points against struggling Hartlepool.
The 2-1 defeat for Hartlepool extended their current losing streak to three matches, winning just one of their previous 15.
Cheye Alexander was making his 150th career appearance in the National League and started promisingly as he drew a foul within the first five minutes. The subsequent free kick was squared to in-form Josh McQuoid who tried his luck from distance, to no avail.
McQuoid was in trouble minutes later though, his sloppy pass out from defence was latched onto by opposing captain Carl Magnay but, to the Aldershot winger’s relief, his effort sailed high and wide.
With such a lively start, the 1,665 in attendance felt a goal was near, and they weren’t wrong.
Midfield powerhouse, Manny Oyeleke brushed aside tackles and managed to play an eye of the needle pass to Shamir Fenelon who produced a scintillating cross for Shot’s player of the month, Scott Rendell to tap in for his ninth league goal this campaign.
For much of the remaining minutes in the first half the home side dominated.
Oyeleke bossed the middle of the park, to the crowd’s delight as they sung his name throughout the impressive performance.
Pools’ fullback, Luke George, was forced off due to injury during the half and replaced by Blair Adams. The replacement’s first task was to block a point-blank strike from Fenelon with his face, earning a wince or two from the crowd.
Adams got his own back however, the substitute crept into the opposing half without any challenge as the Shot’s defender back away, inviting a shot. Letting fly from 30 yards out, Adams’ shot flew in off the far post, leaving the EBB stadium stunned, ending the half at one goal apiece.
Shortly after the second half began controversy ensued.
Hard done by
Troublesome Pools’ winger Rhys Oates raced to keep a wayward ball in play and eventually whipped into the box for Conor Newton to volley home, yet his attempt was stopped on the line by what appeared to be the hand of Shots’ centre back Will Evans.
The 65 travelling supporters who made the 10-hour round trip felt extremely hard done by and rightfully so as their side never mounted another decent attack in the half.
Just five minutes later Oyeleke struck low from the edge of the box and managed to squeeze the ball in via the post, capping yet another inspiring performance from the new fan favourite.
Gary Waddock’s men managed to see out the remaining minutes with some ease, although one or two Shots fans tensed up as Hartlepool pumped balls into the box in the dying embers of the game.
The final whistle was met with jubilation as Aldershot maintained third place in the Vanarama National League table and stayed within touching distance of automatic promotion, a goal Waddock’s side will have in mind as they travel to Fylde March 10th.