United were pegged back by Aldershot this afternoon as Adam Chapman's opening goal was cancelled out by a stunning strike by Adam Mekki to leave both sides with a point. United ended the game with 10 men as Simon Heslop saw red in the final minute.
After an emotional minute’s applause for Mitchell Cole, which everyone in the ground including the Aldershot fans joined in, United started positively and dominated the early possession without creating any clear openings other than a sixth minute half chance which Alfie Potter volleyed wide at the far post.
Aldershot, whose away record is better than their home form this season, were content to defend strongly and look for the ever willing Danny Hylton up front in the first ten minutes. A typically stern tackle from former U’s left back Anthony Tonkin on Alfie Potter on 19 minutes earned the first yellow card of the afternoon and the visitors then enjoyed a decent little spell of pressure for the first time. They had two dangerous crosses touched away and a penalty appeal waved away as Wright and Hylton bumped into each other in the area.
The closest United had come to a goal was a 29th minute defence-splitter from Adam Chapman that gave Constable a 40-60 chance of reaching the ball before keeper Jamie Young. Constable, naturally, won it but with hardly any time to consider his options the striker lifted the ball wide of the empty net.
However on 33 minutes the same two players combined to find the opener. Sean Rigg, playing up front in the first half alongside Constable, and left winger Liam Davis combined to get the ball across. Again, Constable looked second favourite as he scrapped for the ball with three defenders, but showed great strength and awareness to salvage the bouncing ball and set it back for Chapman on the edge of the box. The midfielder always has a sweet right foot but this time took it on his left and drilled a low shot into the very corner of the net to make it 1-0 with his first goal of the season.
Aldershot came at United in the second half and had new penalty claims dismissed as Hylton and Wright met again, with Hylton also flicking a header wide of the mark and dallying with the best opening his side could create in the first hour.
United meanwhile were inches away from a second goal as Rigg’s cross almost found Constable in front of goal, and the introduction of Tom Craddock for the last half hour added a different dimension to the Yellow’s attack. That cross was perhaps typical on an afternoon where the final ball just wouldn't quite fall to a yellow shirted player but there was no doubting the willingness or the effort. Defensively the near faultless Wright and his partner Michael Raynes kept a close eye on Hylton and co while full backs Damian Batt and Tony Capaldi tucked in and mopped up any potential danger as Aldershot came more into the game.
However that was inviting pressure and Aldershot had rallied strongly and pressed United back as the game wore on. With six minutes to go Aldershot were levelwere level. Adam Mekki, out on the left wing, had plenty of space, but would he have the nerve or the ability to get the ball beyond Ryan Clarke? It turned out to be yes on both counts as he curled a perfectly struck right footed effort right across the keeper and into the far corner of the net to make it 1-1.
There was still time for sub Heslop to slam into Mekki and be dismissed, a straight red card, but that sending off had little bearing on the final result and United will reflect on an afternoon where they didn't quite fire against the Shots.
Report by Chris Williams, Pictures by Steve Daniels, Stats by PA Sports
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