D'Sane holds nerve to keep Aldershot's hopes alive

Aldershot Town 1
Hereford United 1

Aldershot Town and Hereford United played out a pulsating draw in their Conference play-off semi-final, first-leg last night to leave the race towards the Football League delicately poised for the return leg at Edgar Street on Monday.

Aldershot Town and Hereford United played out a pulsating draw in their Conference play-off semi-final, first-leg last night to leave the race towards the Football League delicately poised for the return leg at Edgar Street on Monday.

Part-timers Aldershot, who are aiming to regain League status for the first time in 14 years, held their nerve in front of their biggest home crowd of the season, 6,379, as last-ditch defending blended with attacking flair in an entertaining encounter at the Recreation Ground.

The two League fixtures between the two teams had produced 10 goals, and the first half promised a scoreline to continue that trend as both sides adopted attacking styles.

Aldershot were the first to threaten in the opening minute when the defender Ray Warburton tested the visiting goalkeeper Matt Baker's nerves with a looping header. But Hereford soon retaliated,Jamie Pitman stinging the palms of the Aldershot goalkeeper, Nikki Bull, in the fifth minute with a well-struck drive from the edge of the penalty area.

Two minutes later, Hereford took the lead - Danny Carey-Bertram forced Bull into a fine reflex save, but David Brown was on hand to lash in the rebound. Chris Giles should have replied immediately for Aldershot, but, after beating the offside trap, his tame header went straight at Baker.

After Hereford had tested Bull with long-range efforts from Brown and the midfielder Robert Purdie, Aldershot almost drew level, but Warburton's header was cleared off the line by Ryan Green. Then, on the stroke of half-time, Aldershot's endeavour was rewarded. Roscoe D'Sane levelled matters with a penalty after Hereford's Michael Rose had pushed Warburton as he went to meet Lee Charles' free-kick.

Rose looked to make amends moments later, only for Bull to brilliantly push his 30-yard free-kick over the crossbar.

Aldershot should have taken the lead three minutes after the restart, but Jamie Goslingshot straight at Baker after being put in the clear by John Challinor.

Hereford, without leading scorer Steve Guinan,looked to hit the home team on the break, but excellent defending and brave goalkeeping from Bull thwarted half-chances for Carey-Bertram and Brown.

A defensive mistake from Rose almost gifted Aldershot the advantage going into Monday's second leg, but, with the goal at his mercy, Charles shot over the bar.

Aldershot Town (4-4-2) : Bull; Warburton, Sterling, Giles, Downer (McLean, 79); Antwi (Chewins, 75), Charles, Challinor, Gosling; D'Sane (Nutter, 90), Sills. Substitutes not used: Barnard (gk), Smith.

Hereford United (4-4-2): Baker; Green, Rose, Pitman, Tretton; James, Travis, Purdie, (Betts, 90) T Smith; Carey-Bertram (Beesley, 68), Brown. Substitutes not used: MacKenzie (gk), Williams, Cozic.

Referee: J Singh (Hounslow).

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