Aldershot & Farnham (A&F) head coach Ian Jennings was pleased with his side’s performance after they were held to a 0-0 draw at Blackheath & Elthamians in the South East Men’s Premier Division.
“I’m disappointed with the result, but certainly not the performance,” said Jennings.
“I was very impressed with how we stuck to our task and repeatedly opened up their midfield and defence.
“On another day it could so easily have ended up with us winning by four or five goals, and it was only a combination of our finishing and some very brave defending by Blackheath that kept it as 0-0.”
The draw meant the Shots slipped to fifth in the table, but Jennings is hopeful of securing a top-three finish.
“The gap between second and us in fifth is very small, and we still have three of the teams above us to play, so it’s still very much in our hands and at the end of the day we can only do our best,” he said.
The Shots had a depleted 12-man squad for Saturday’s match, which Jennings felt affected the result.
“For anyone to try to make the step up to play at this level, it can sometimes cause more problems than solutions,” said Jennings.
“That combined with the fact I’ve made it very clear we won’t ask anyone from the second team to play up in the first team because of their involvement in their own promotion battle means we have very much left them to their own devices.”
Off the back of an impressive late win against Sevenoaks’ second team, A&F travelled into London to play Blackheath & Elthamians.
Blackheath inflicted a shock defeat on A&F in the first half of the season, capitalising on a poor performance in the final third from A&F. A&F were therefore keen to make amends for that game, but knew they had a tough task on their hands as injuries and availability meant they travelled up to Blackheath with a depleted squad of 12.
It was the home team who had the first chance as they made the most of some A&F players having to play in unfamiliar positions. But Hamish Hall in the A&F goal was equal to it and saved well.
It was through Stu Morhall that A&F got their first opportunity. Driving around the outside and along the right baseline, his neat pass across the face of goal couldn’t be met by an A&F player and Blackheath managed to clear.
This triggered the start of a relentless onslaught as A&F scythed through Blackheath’s midfield at will. Blackheath’s work rate was high, but they couldn’t match A&F in the middle as the quality of A&F’s midfield of Chris Boot, Will Caine and Daan Barron controlled the tempo of the game.
They flowed through the Blackheath midfield, allowing Morhall and Scott Perry to isolate their opposing full backs and torment them throughout the contest. However, the opposing goalkeeper was a match to anything thrown at him from open play and penalty corners.
Now penned into their own half, Blackheath were forced to take the aerial route to relieve some pressure, praying for a mistake in the much-changed A&F defence.
Conor Wilkinson was the only full-time defender in the A&F backline, where he was joined by Jamie Weston and a combination of Boot and Caine. But the makeshift backline didn’t look troubled under the aerial bombardment and the game remained goalless at half-time.
A&F remained patient in the second half and stuck to their system, which was bringing more chances, although the final touch was still missing. This coupled with some last-ditch defending from Blackheath meant wave after wave of attacks from A&F ended up fruitless.
The A&F defence negated any Blackheath attack, rendering Hall nothing more than a second-half passenger.
So, for the fourth time in as many weeks, A&F were tasked with scoring late on to grab all three points. It wasn’t to be though as they couldn’t turn the ball into the net, with Blackheath’s defence putting everything on the line to prevent the winning goal going in against them as the game finished 0-0.