BREWERS DOUBLE DELIGHT
By Ian Hawkins
A stirring first half display capped by goals from Tom Parkes and Steve Kabba enabled Burton Albion to complete a satisfying double over their Hampshire rivals.
The hosts were on a revenge mission after the game at Burton but the Brewers were in no mood to hand over the points with a determined display masterminded in midfield by skipper John McGrath. Along with Russell Penn they stifled the Shots midfield and created a platform for Albion to push on for victory.
After several injury worries during the week manager Paul Peschisolido was eventually able to name an unchanged side for Albion's visit to former Conference rivals Aldershot Town. Albion's last visit was as the Shots were on the verge of clinching the Conference title and Albion were unlucky to lose 1-0. The Brewers won the reverse fixture 6-1 at the Pirelli Stadium back in December with their biggest victory of the season prompting Shots boss Kevin Dillon to accuse Albion of not being humble in victory, presumably a desperate attempt to fire his own side up for the return.
The influential McGrath gave the Brewers a huge boost after returning to training on Friday and Cleveland Taylor reported fit after a foot injury forced his ealy substitution against Rotherham last weekend. It was a landmark game for Brewers full back Andy Corbett who made his 300th appearance for the club.
The only change came on the bench where JamesKnowles replaced young reserve team defender Kevin Grocott.
The manager's desire for positivity was demonstrated in the first minute as McGrath tried his luck with an ambitious volley from 22 yards that went wide of the post. Jacques Maghoma also tried his luck from distance in the seventh minute, drilling a low effort across keeper Stephen Henderson and wide of the post.
It all came right for Albion in the eighth minute. Good work by Steve Kabba down the left won a corner and Cleveland Taylor's delivery was perfectly onto the head of Tom PARKES who glanced home from inside the six yard box.
Aldershot had a chance to equalise in the 14th minute as Kirk Hudson played a precise ball through to Danny Hylton. As the offside flag stayed down the striker ran through but his low effort was superbly blocked by Artur Krysiak with Tony James completing the clearance.
The pace and industry of Kabba was a major cause of concern for the Shots and his link up play with Cleveland Taylor was stretching the home defence.
Hylton had another opportunity to equalise in the 24th minute but with Parkes, Tony James and McGrath swarming aroundf him inside the penalty area the young striker could only scuff a tame effort into the grateful arms of Krysiak.
Albion were getting increasing joy from corner kicks and they doubled their lead through such a move in the 26th minute. Taylor won the flag kick and a whipped centre from John McGrath found its way through to Tony James. The defendert who notched his first Albion goal a fortnight ago stabbed the ball goalwards where Steve KABBA applied the merest of touches to score his first goal of 2010.
In a sign of growing confidence amongst the Brewers Shaun Harrad fired across goal in the 33rd minute as Albion quickly sought a third.
Albion's closing down and general work rate in midfield was limiting the home side to precious few chances and Hylton had to try a speculative effort in the closing minutes of the half that Krysiak carefully watched bounce wide of his right hand post.
Half-time: Aldershot Town 0-2 Burton Albion
Aldershot made a double substitution at the start of the second half with attacking players Damian Spencer and Marlon Jackson introduced to try and pep up a forward line that had not seriously threatened the Burton goal in the first half.
A scrappy start to the second half probably helped Albion more than the hosts as it denied them the opportunity to play much in the way of flowing football and kept the pressure off the Albon defence.
By the 57th minute Kevin Dillon had made his final roll of the dice throwing on former Shrewsbury striker Omer Riza in place of the injured looking Andy Sandell. Riza was immediately into the action chasing a long ball over the top but to the dismay of the home fans was pulled up for a foul on Tom Parkes as he appeared to be getting the better of the Leicester City loanee.
Albion had to soak up some pressure as Spencer made a nuisance of himself but a swift counter attack instigated by Kabba gave Albion a breather and the chance to build some momentum of their own. Albion made their first change in the 64th minute. Greg Pearson, the hat-trick hero of the reverse fixture was introduced for Shaun Harrad.
Chris Blackburn was the second Aldershot player to go in the referee's notebook for a crude challenge on Steve Kabba before Albion made a second change with twenty minutes left. Rommy Boco was given a second run out, this time on the right of midfield in place of Jacques Maghoma with Cleveland Taylor switching to the left flank.
A rare moment of danger almost got Aldershot back into the game in the 79th minute. a long ball into the Albion box from keeper Henderson got Spencer in behind Tom Parkes and his driven cross fell nicely for Hylton whose shot deflected off Parkes and into the arms of Krysiak.
Keith Gilroy was brought on for the last seven minutes in place of Cleveland Taylor in a straight swap as Albion looked to close out the game.
Ben Harding guided a header wide of the target from a late corner as Aldershot looked for a late lifeline and the tall midfielder had Krysiak stretching shortly after to pluck a shot from the edge of the area from under his crossbar.
Riza saw a late effort tipped over from a tight angle but Albion kept their clean sheet in tact to complete a third league double of the campaign and push the Brewers back into the top half of the League 2 table.
ALDERSHOT: Henderson, Herd, Straker, Blackburn, Charles, Hylton, Donnelly, Hudson (Spencer, 46), Harding, Bozanic (Jackson, 46), Sandell. Substitutes: Jaimez-Ruiz, Soares, Howell, Riza.
BURTON: Krysiak; Corbett, James, Parkes, Boertien; Taylor (Gilroy, 83), Penn, McGrath, Maghoma; Harrad (Pearson, 64), Kabba. Substitutes: Poole, Walker, Phillips, Knowles.
GOALS: ALBION: Parkes (8), Kabba (26)
BOOKINGS: Albion - Taylor (foul on Sandell), Kabba (unsporting conduct) , Aldershot - Herd (dissent), Blackburn (foul on Kabba), Hylton (unsporting behaviour), Straker (dissent)
Albion man of the match - John McGrath - the skipper led by example, bossing the midfield and setting the Brewers up for a well deserved victory.
Referee: Mr. R.East (Wiltshire)