Aldershot Town manager Tommy Widdrington believes his side have plenty of room for improvement after they secured a place in the first round proper of the FA Cup for the first time in five years with a comprehensive 4-1 victory against Lewes at the EBB Stadium on Saturday.
A hat-trick from Lorent Tolaj ensured the Shots’ progress, with Aaron Jones also on target for Widdrington’s side.
Widdrington said: “The way we started the game was with real intent and real quality.
“The disappointing thing – if there is a disappointing thing when you’ve won a game 4-1 and got yourself into the first round proper – is I felt we had our foot on their throat at 2-0 up. Until about the 32nd minute we were really good.
“I understand they’re a young group – they don’t understand that my standards won’t drop at 2-0 and I want to go 3-0, and then when I go three I want to go four.”
Despite the final scoreline favouring the Shots heavily, Widdrington was still full of praise for Isthmian League Premier Division outfit Lewes.
“They tried to play the game, to be fair to them – they didn’t come here to try to kick us off the park,” he said.
Widdrington has been able to rely on Swiss striker Tolaj throughout the start of the season, and was thrilled he marked his first FA Cup appearance for the Shots with a hat-trick.
“I’m delighted for him,” said Widdrington. “He prides himself on goals and he’s got number nine on his back so he’ll be judged by the outside public on his goals – but I know the contribution to the general way we play the game and he’s bought in.
“People have got to remember he’s only 21. He’s in a different country to where his family are. He’s adapted to this level of the game, in my opinion, outstandingly well and he deserves a pat on the back.”
Aldershot made two changes from the side who beat Solihull Moors last weekend as Coby Rowe came in for Haji Mnoga, who is on international duty for Tanzania, and Joe Haigh made his Shots debut in place of Jack Barham, who was missing from the squad after picking up a knock in training.
Tolaj broke the deadlock in the 12th minute. Lewes tried to play out from a goal kick and a misplaced pass across the face of their goal went straight to the feet of Tolaj, who turned and slotted under the hapless Nathan Harvey.
Jones then burst into the box down the right and squared across goal for Tolaj to tap it in from a yard out to double his and Aldershot’s tally in the 15th minute.
Lewes needed to score the next goal to find a route back into the game and did just that only three minutes into the second half when Tommy Wood found himself through on goal and calmly fired into the bottom far corner.
Aldershot restored their two-goal advantage in the 56th minute. Tolaj shot on the turn but saw his effort well saved by Harvey, who could only parry it to the feet of Jones who scored with a poacher’s finish.
The afternoon was topped off with only a few minutes to play as Tolaj completed his hat-trick in added time. Receiving the ball with his back to goal, he shot with his right foot on the turn and managed to find the bottom corner.
Aldershot’s reward for beating Lewes is a trip to League Two Swindon Town in the first round proper of the FA Cup.
The tie will be played on the weekend of November 4 and 5.
Aldershot Town are offering a buy one, get one half price ticket deal for their upcoming EBB Stadium double-header.
Hartlepool visit the EBB Stadium on Saturday, with Maidenhead United visiting next Tuesday night (October 24).
Fans who buy tickets for both of these games at the same time can make a 25 per cent saving on the usual prices.
An adult who would usually pay £40 for two games will be able to watch the Shots in action against Hartlepool and Maidenhead for just £30.
Pop into the club shop between 11am and 2pm Monday to Friday, call 01252 320211 in the same hours, or visit the online ticketing system to take advantage of this offer.
Both tickets need to be bought before the day of the Hartlepool game for the deal and both tickets need to be for the same ticket category.
Online orders need to click the bundle button and the discount will be applied at the checkout stage. Fans will then get emailed one e-ticket which will cover both games.
Tickets for both games need to be bought at the same time to receive this offer.