10:17am Wednesday 19th February 2014
Aldershot Town 2 Forest Green 2
FOUR goals in just six second half minutes invigorated what had been a drab affair at the Recreation Ground as Forest Green returned to action with a point at Aldershot on Tuesday, writes Richard Joyce.
The recent bad weather had left Ady Pennock’s charges without any action for nearly a month ahead of a visit to the club that finished last season rock bottom of the Football League.
However, a gritty showing delivered a useful point with the class of former Premier League star Lee Hughes heavily influential in attack.
James Norwood had put Rovers ahead ten minutes into the second half only for Adam Mekki to level for the hosts a couple of minutes later.
Bradley Bubb then turned the game on its head by giving Aldershot the lead shortly after, however Hughes squeezed in from the tightest of angles to earn Rovers a point.
Luke Oliver was handed his long awaited debut at the back alongside the returning Dale Bennett as Jared Hodgkiss filled the vacant left back role in the absence of Chris Stokes, who is expected to return soon.
A sluggish first half illustrated a lack of match sharpness in both teams’ ranks as Norwood blasted over from a difficult position early on.
The England C international was then involved in one of the first half’s major talking points as he was hacked down by Shots keeper Glenn Morris in the box, for what looked to be a good shout for a penalty turned down despite Rovers' protests.
Sam Russell was on hand down the other end to deny former Rovers loanee Matt Paterson from firing a low shot in while Danny Wright missed out on a header late in the half.
The opening exchanges in the second period provided little to suggest that there would be major improvements in terms of entertainment value from the opening 45 minutes.
However, a touch of class from Hughes, ten minutes after the break, set Norwood on his way in the box, and he classily despatched the game’s opening goal.
Only two minutes later however Mekki was allowed plenty of room and he levelled the affair.
Bubb then handed the hosts the advantage by firing in from close range to switch the tie into Aldershot’s favour.
An eye-catching six minute spell was then completed by Hughes' well-executed leveller, which saw him push the ball into the back of the net from the narrowest of angles.
The game was at risk of falling back into the hands of the hosts yet again when Brett Williams' stinging drive was beaten away by Russell.
Rovers had a fantastic opportunity to win it near the end, however Norwood couldn’t get his snap-shot on target after the towering Oliver had headed the ball perfectly into his path.
Aldershot: G Morris, J Gibbs, C Barker (A Tonkin 84), J Oastler, J Partington, C Stanley, S Taiwo, A Mekki (J Scott 77), M Paterson (T Plummer 36), B Bubb, B Williams.
Subs not used: M Rowlands, L Williams.
Forest Green: S Russell, E Oshodi, J Hodgkiss, D Bennett, L Oliver, A Bangura, A Barry, M Kelly, J Norwood (E Asafu-Adjaye 85), D Wright (J Walker 74), L Hughes.
Subs not used: M Vieira, P White, P Green.
Referee: Declan Ford.
Attendance: 1,407 (68 away).
Star Man: Lee Hughes.
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