Aldershot & Farnham (A&F) head coach Ian Jennings was delighted with his side’s first-half performance in their 3-0 win at Canterbury’s second team in the South East Men’s Premier Division.
The Shots came racing out of the traps and were three goals ahead by half-time.
“Canterbury away was a tricky fixture last season and we came away with a disappointing draw last time out,” said Jennings.
“This time, despite players being unavailable, we produced a very solid display to come away with a 3-0 win.
“I was delighted for Paddy Craddon to score his first league goal for us and I have no doubt it won’t be his last.
“It was great to also see birthday boy Josh Frost on the scoresheet and Jamie Weston’s delivery from the penalty corners was spot on.
“The first-half display was as good as I’ve seen and effectively the three points were sealed at half-time.
“However, whereas we were using the ball effectively and creating space all over the pitch with quick decision making and ensuring Canterbury had to work very hard to close us down, we actually did the opposite in the second half and decided to carry the ball into space, which resulted in way too many turnovers.”
A&F made the long journey to Canterbury for their first away trip of the season looking to improve on last season’s 1-1 draw.
Missing their usual goal threat Scott Perry and the reliable Tom Herring at the back, A&F were under no illusion that it would be tough against a youthful Canterbury side.
It was a quiet opening to the game, with A&F retaining possession well around the back and probing for an opening past the Canterbury press.
The back line were linking well with the two midfield screens and the confidence was starting to build, which was paying dividends in the final third as A&F won their first penalty corner which deputy drag flicker Weston whistled past the post to fire Canterbury a warning shot.
Then it was Canterbury’s turn to work the goalkeeper.
Some poor distribution out of defence gifted the home side with a chance to open the scoring. A quick counter-attack left Canterbury’s forward with time and space to rifle a shot at goal, but Hamish Hall was equal to the task and good scramble defence prevented a follow up at the expense of Canterbury’s first penalty corner. The penalty corner was dealt with and the game remained goalless.
Canterbury were then the masters of their own downfall, as a bad tackle prevented A&F from a clear D entry and a second short corner was awarded.
This time Weston’s flick was on target and evaded the opposing goalkeeper to make it 1-0 to the visiting side.
A&F pushed on and piled pressure on the home side.
The fluid, passing play was causing Canterbury no end of issues and cards were starting to be brandished for both sides. Frost was given a two-minute sin bin for the visitors.
A&F then compounded Canterbury’s misery by doubling their lead. From another penalty corner Weston’s drag flick was deflected in by Craddon for his first A&F goal.
A&F were really firing now. Weston was finding targets from the back, Chris Boot and Daan Barron were orchestrating proceedings and the midfield were transferring the ball and working the Canterbury defence hard.
The third was inevitable and came from a typically flowing move from left to right.
Frost was there to welcome the cross from the right and slot home to mark his birthday with a goal, making up for his earlier green card.
Half-time almost came too soon for A&F, and in a similar way to last week they struggled for fluidity after the break. Despite their commanding lead and dominance, they were too desperate to charge forward.
A lack of precision was leading to more turnovers and defensive work. From the few attacks that were carved out, A&F went close only once as Craddon nearly doubled his tally through another penalty corner deflection that was cleared off the line.
If Canterbury hadn’t lost their discipline and spent a sizeable chunk of time with ten players, the story may have been different. As it was, they were kept to a penalty corner which slid wide of the target and a few crosses that couldn’t find their targets.
Canterbury pushed into a full press to try to force an opening, but A&F kept their composure and maintained the clean sheet to finish as 3-0 winners. The result kept A&F at the top of the league.