ALDERSHOT & Farnham will take a giant step towards the South East Division 1 West title this weekend if they can beat fellow promotion chasers East Grinstead.
The Shots warmed up for the crucial clash by overcoming high-riding Oxted III 2-1 at the weekend.
The East Grinstead clash on Saturday at Heath End School (12.30pm) will now be a season-defining match.
East Grinstead will go into the match in confident mood, despatching Brighton & Hove 7-0 last weekend.
Shots’ head coach Ian Jennings is looking forward to the match – and is refusing play down its importance.
He had made no secret that he wants – and expects – promotion this season and he said: “There is no point hiding the reality that a win against East Grinstead will put one foot on the league title.
“We definitely play better against better opposition although we are never sure what sort of team they will turn up with.
“Whatever side they produce we will do our best to beat – and providing we are able to get in our groove straight away, we are confident of producing a positive outcome.”
East Grinstead came out on top the last time the sides met – they battled to a 1-0 success on that day – and Jennings said: “Had we not had that result to learn from, we would not be in the position we are now.
“We are in a different place now emotionally – our performances show we know what is acceptable and what is not acceptable.
“It would be great to put the record straight following the first game.”
With the season now entering its final six weeks, Aldershot knew they had to beat Oxted III.
They have always proven difficult opponents and were wary of their counter-attacking style and a rugged defence.
The game started in predictable fashion with Oxted sitting deep, looking for cheap turnovers and the Shots establishing themselves with a high-tempo approach, looking for openings in the middle of the park for the midfield duo of Treadgold and Boot.
This provided multiple opportunities for the front line of Smith, Coombe and Groves, who did well to get themselves in great scoring positions but failed to convert the openings created.
Morhall and Perry looked dangerous on each flank, especially when left one-on-one with the home side’s full backs.
Morhall won a number of short corners, but the usual reliability in conversion stuttered to begin with.
Despite the dominance, Oxted were still very much in the game at 0-0 and were fluid on the break. This produced a number of short corners, with one eventually being dispatched past Hall in the goal to make it 1-0.
This was very much against the play but it had the feeling of being ‘one of those days’’ for Shots until Perry converted a short corner rebound to make it 1-1 going into the break.
After some sterling half-time words from Jennings, Aldershot continued to up the anti with some good pressing from Rushmere and McCaffery.
As a consequence, Oxted began to tire, creating a number of openings once more for the Shots. However, the same pattern of spurned opportunities continued as the deadlock remained.
The back line of Herring, Weston and Giltrow kept things solid as Oxted started to switch to a more attacking style of play with Hall making some decent saves.
The breakthrough finally arrived following some good work by Treadgold at the top of the D, hammering a forehand strike that was tipped in by the enigmatic Groves to make it 2-1.
This was more than deserved for the away side, who held out until the final whistle, keeping cool heads in a heated environment.
Jennings said: “We could have been involved in a load of unnecessary angst that was being shown by the opposition.
“It was a disappointing outcome as a good fixture was marred by some individuals venting inappropriately towards the umpires.
“I was very pleased with how we kept control of our emotions and focused on the task in hand rather than getting involved in other areas.
“Jamie Weston was our man of the match with another solid game at right half, alongside excellent performances from Herring and Giltrow and Hall in goal.”