The first half was a frustrating affair, with both sides finding a packed midfield too difficult to break down. Marvin Morgan was forced to come deep to be supplied the ball, and finally tested the visiting defence with a long run from deep, before his shot from the edge of the area was snuffed out by the recovering defenders. Certainly, Yemi Odubade looked more likely at the other end, his rapid pace providing a stern test for the Shots' back four.
The effect of the fruitless endeavour was summed up by Ben Harding's ambitious long-range effort on the half hour which, although well struck, was easy for Stevenage keeper Chris Day.
What was looking like an eventless first half nearly sprung into life just before the break as the Aldershot defence stepped up from a Scott Laird free-kick. For a moment, hearts were in mouths as Beardsley was left all alone in the box, but as he lifted his shot over Jamie Young, the flag went up to save the Shots' blushes.
Half time arrived largely without incident, but Stevenage boss Graham Westley - formerly of Shots' local rivals Farnborough - would have been hugely relieved to get his side in with the score goalless, as he had made two enforced changes with David Bridges and Laird replacing the injured Darius Charles and Charlie Griffin.
With the midfield stalemate showing no sign of yielding, and both defences looking solid, the two managers would both be disappointed for conceding from long balls. First of all, in the 51st minute, a giant punt from Day was flicked on by Chris Beardsley, who - with Anthony Charles held off by Odubade - ran on to his own knock down and fired low past Jamie Young.
This sparked Dillon into unleashing Spencer and playing two strikers, which very quickly shifted the balance of power. Barely five minutes after his arrival, Spencer beat Day to a Young drop kick which had been allowed to bounce by Jon Ashton. With the angle tight, he squeezed his left-footed shot into the net for his first goal for the Shots.
The match was now becoming a fast and furious affair, the home side now playing a 4-2-4, with genuine attacking wingers Small and Straker - who was later replaced by McGlashan - supporting the front two. The formation exposed the back line, and Yemi Odubade nearly picked the lock, his cut back seeming to dribble forever across the six-yard box before finally being cleared by Jamie Vincent.
But Spencer was not finished at the other end. Receiving the ball from Small, he turned and charged into the box, only to be brought down by Jon Ashton. Referee Mark Halsey eventually pointed to the spot. Morgan stepped up, but was denied not once, but twice by Chris Day, before Manny Panther stabbed the ball - illegally - out of the keeper's hands into the net.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.
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