Aldershot Town manager Tommy Widdrington was delighted with his side’s efforts after they won 3-1 at home to Rochdale in the National League.
A convincing display from the Shots moved them back into the top seven, as goals from Lorent Tolaj, Cian Harries and Jack Barham gave the home side all three points at the EBB Stadium.
“I’m over the moon with the result,” said Widdrington.
“I think for the amount of ball we had, particularly in the second half, we were very dominant. We did make chances to score more goals.
“To a man I thought they’ve grafted hard. They’re a good side Rochdale. Jimmy McNulty’s got them playing some really good stuff and they’ve got some good individuals. It was a really good game.”
Aaron Jones was absent from the squad, meaning Olly Scott came into the side and Ryan Glover started in the right wing-back position. New signing Rollin Menayese started on the bench.
The Shots were quick out of the traps and took an early lead thanks to Tolaj. Stuart O’Keefe won the ball in midfield, and his ball over the top found Barham. Barham turned Finlay Armstrong before squaring the ball across the box to Tolaj at the back post, who gave the Shots the lead with six minutes gone.
Despite the fast start from the Shots they were pegged back with just over ten minutes gone by Ian Henderson.
Ethan Ebanks-Landell had the ball inside the Rochdale half, and with little to no pressure on him from the Shots attack was able to pick out a inch-perfect pass on to the chest of Henderson, who took it down ahead of Coby Rowe and finished well into the bottom left of Jordi van Stappershoef’s goal.
An end-to-end game almost had a third goal with 15 minutes gone, as Dejan Tetek played a pass just over the head of Ebanks-Landell, and Tolaj was able to get there ahead of Rochdale keeper Tiernan Brooks, who had stayed on his line, but Tolaj’s right-footed effort trickled just wide of Brooks’ far post.
In the build up to that attack Scott had gone down inside the Rochdale half, and after 18 minutes he was withdrawn from proceedings as Tyler Frost came on in his place at left wing-back.
The Shots regained the lead on the stroke of half-time. Josh Stokes took the ball down and layed off a simple ball to O’Keefe, who was taken down in the Rochdale box. Referee Aji Ajibola pointed to the spot, and Harries sent Brooks the wrong way to give Aldershot the lead with his sixth penalty of the season.
Stokes almost scored an audacious goal in added time at the end of the first half. He let fly from the halfway line after winning the ball back, but his effort bounced just wide.
The Shots led 2-1 at half-time and started the second half strongly, with two good attempts in the first five minutes of the half. The first came from Stokes from just outside the box, and his deflected effort was parried by Brooks. From the rebound Glover found Tolaj, and his curling effort defelcted off the crossbar and bounced just the wrong side of the line.
Despite missing two chances the Shots wouldn’t have to wait long for their third goal, which came from Barham in the 51st minute.
Stokes picked the ball up in a good area, and had time to pick his pass into the box for Barham. Barham took it in his stride and finished well, low and beyond Brooks to make it 3-1 to Aldershot.
The game remained end-to-end after Barham scored the Shots’ third, however there were little chances on either goal.
Barham and Stokes both had good chances, while the midfield duo of Tetek and O’Keefe did well to thwart Rochdale’s offensive efforts.
Tolaj could have scored his second in the 78th minute. Stokes played a wonderful ball around Ebanks-Landell to find Tolaj one-on-one with Brooks, but his effort was straight down the throat of the Rochdale stopper.
A good showing by O’Keefe came to an end with ten minutes to go, as Widdrington took him off in place of Kwame Thomas.
Aldershot continued to threaten, but were unable to make a real chance before Tolaj made way for Josh Barrett in the 86th minute.
The Shots comfortably saw out the last few minutes to pick up the three points.
Next up for the Shots is a trip to FC Halifax Town in the National League today (Saturday). The match kicks off at 3pm.