Aldershot and Farnham head coach Ian Jennings was proud of his side’s efforts after they narrowly lost 2-1 against the league leaders – Old Georgians’ second team – at Heath End on Saturday.
The Shots pushed the league leaders hard but ultimately came up just short.
“It was a difficult pill to swallow,” said Jennings. “We set out our stall and we were very clear about how we were going to restrict their movement and to make things as difficult as possible for them.
“We absolutely controlled the controllables alongside some very dubious and quite frankly inadequate umpiring for 95 per cent of the game.
“Sadly, we then let the uncontrollables affect the controllables and we lost both focus and direction, which was hugely disappointing.
“The debrief focused on how much we have improved – the level of intensity, focus and effort was very rewarding.
“In the game at their place we were effectively taken apart piece by piece and it was a game where they were by far the better side.
“Anyone who watched this game could easily have mistaken which side is top of the league, but in these types of games – and if we are serious about our National League intentions – it is a lesson we have to learn from.”
A&F made a strong start to the game. They were calm on the ball and imposed their style from the offset. A&F’s press worked effectively as the visitors struggled to find any fluidity, which was leading to some very basic errors.
Old Georgians were keen to try to play on the front foot, pushing four forwards very high. However A&F’s defence marshalled them well and prevented direct balls forward reaching them.
When the turnovers came, A&F were comfortably able to play out from the back through screens Jamie Weston, Daan Barron and Chris Boot, who picked apart the visiting team’s press.
The pressure on the visitors was mounting as A&F piled forward. Scott Perry was a constant threat and good work down the left between Perry and Barron drew fouls on the edge of the visitors’ D.
Old Georgians switched off and allowed a free hit to be taken quickly by Perry, who drove into the D uncontested and fired a ferocious strike into the goal before the keeper could move to give A&F a deserved lead.
The visitors were rattled and attempted to get themselves back into the game. However, they were still being hampered by some ineffective movement preventing them from making meaningful links between their lines and allowing A&F to maintain control of the game.
The chances they were getting were coming from cheap A&F turnovers high up the field, but Hamish Hall was more than capable of dealing with the attempts on his goal.
This included a string of penalty corners which he comfortably saved and cleared to keep A&F ahead at half-time.
The second half started in much the same way. The visitors were flat and still struggling to get around A&F’s press to make passes. The forward line were forcing turnovers all over the pitch and A&F maintained their dominance.
However, the second goal eluded them. The visiting keeper made some superb saves from Perry’s dangerous penalty corner drag flicks.
Perry was running the show from the left flank. He was delivering inviting balls into the D, but as has been the case for much of the season, the finishing touches weren’t being made. As A&F grew nervy with the final whistle drawing in, Old Georgians hauled themselves back into the game and created more chances.
The A&F defence was holding firm but a mistimed tackle from Perry put him into the sin bin and with the player deficit, Old Georgians equalised. Attacking down A&F’s left, they finally strung some passes together and the cross was bundled home despite Hall’s best efforts.
The visitors then dealt a gut-wrenching blow to steal all three points. A&F stood off the visitors’ midfield which allowed for a short aerial into a forward. He bundled his way through a number of sticks and people before the ball squirmed under Hall and landed at the feet of a striker to roll the ball into an empty goal and take all three points.
In the aftermath, Tom Herring received a yellow card as frustrations were let out.
A&F will travel to Horsham this Saturday.