Danny strikes again but Shots cup dream is over

MIDDLESBROUGH 2 ALDERSHOT TOWN 1. Interviews coming up over the next few days with Dean Holdsworth, Ben Herd, Jamie Young and Michael Hector. Shots Player launches on 11th February.

Rob Worrall reporting

A proud day for everyone involved with Aldershot Town as they competed in the 4th Round of the FA Cup for the first time in the club's history. The Riverside Stadium, home of Middlesbrough FC was the venue.

As expected having completed his three-match ban, Danny Hylton returned to the starting eleven, as did Kieron Cadogan. Adam Mekki and Dani Lopez (who has returned to Stevenage) made way.

Middlesbrough Manager Tony Mowbray paid the ultimate respect to Shots with his team selection. With the exception of Grant Leadbitter, who had become a father just 48 hours earlier, he named his strongest available team.

Shots settled well, keeping good possession in the opening minute or so. They also created the first worthwhile opening. Hylton with a mazy run before being hacked down on the edge of the area. Danny Rose stepped up to take the resulting free kick and struck it well, but just over the Boro crossbar.

Two minutes later, the impressive Merouane Zemmama made room for himself before shooting - on target, but saved by the legs of Shots keeper Jamie Young.

As the twenty minute mark approached, Boro had two decent chances within a minute. First up, Nicky Bailey with a downward header. Again it was on target and again Young got down well to save. From the corner that followed, Lukas Jutkiewicz blazed over the bar from 20 yards.

Shots won another free kick on the edge of the area on 24 minutes. Reid bundled over this time, after a great forward header by Hector. Peter Vincenti took this one, but struck his effort into the wall. It rebounded to him but his second effort flew well over the bar.

The best chance of the first half fell to Boro in the 41st minute. The lively Zemmama let rip with a sizzling strike from 20 yards. This time, Young timed his leap to perfection, flying away to his left and tipping it around the post for a corner. A simply stunning save!

So, it remained 0-0 and Shots survived to the break. No doubt Boro had enjoyed the better chances. However, Shots had competed well all over the pitch and had also carved out a number of half chances and good situation for themselves.

The second half began quietly. On the pitch at least. Off it, almost 800 Shots fans continued to ensure that they were heard above all others at The Riverside.

Andre Bikey livened things up with a free kick, punted long, from well inside his own half which flew over everyone, including Young and landed just over the bar.

Just after the hour, with frustration rife amongst the home faithful, Boro boss Mowbray made a double substitution, bringing on Ledesma and Halliday for Emnes and Smallwood. One of the Assistant referees had to be replaced at this point too.

On 65 minutes, another chance for Boro. Hines found sub Ledesma, but his shot was parried by Young, who then gathered in the loose ball himself. A couple of half chances came and went for Boro. Then, on 69 minutes, Holdsworth brought on Oliver Risser for Craig Reid.

Young was up to his usual heroics again on 75 minutes. Reach with the header, Young diving away to his right and somehow saving, catching and keeping the ball in play.

On 78 minutes, two more subs. Mekki for Cadogan. Leadbitter on for Hines for Boro.

Boro struck Shots with what appeared to be a killer blow, in the 83rd minute. Jutkiewicz's header beat the dispairing dive of Jamie Young and finding the top corner. The impressive Adam Reach had supplied the cross. But was it to be the killer blow? No - it wasn't. Enter Danny Hylton!! Danny Rose found him with a perfectly timed pass. Hylton ran on to it, controlled it with the sweetest of first touches and calmly slotted it underneath keeper Jason Steele. 1-1 on 88 minutes.

By this time Michael Rankine had replaced Hector and there were to be SIX added minutes! Boro blazed a free kick over the bar but that was pretty much the only effort of added time, until that fateful 96th and final minute. This time, Jutkiewicz DID strike the killer blow! Video replays show that he shoved Sonny Bradley in the build up, but no foul was given and Jutkiewicz's subsequent shot flew across Young and in off the post. 2-1 Boro.

It was the cruelest of blows for Shots who had deserved and so nearly earned a money spinning replay. The winning goal was timed at 95.59, so Shots had literally been seconds away from ensuring that their name would be in the fifth round draw.

Holdsworth and his players can be extremely proud of their performance from start to finish. They will need to pick themselves up quickly now and re-focus on the battle for League Two survival.

Shots: Young, Herd, Morris(A), Brown, Bradley, Cadogan (Mekki) Hector (Rankine) Rose, Vincenti, Hylton, Reid (Risser) Subs not used: Morris(G), Tonkin, Ainsworth, Cooksley. Att: 12,684 (797 away fans)

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