As John Still has said before – and would say again – “winners find a way” and the Town moved to within six points of a return to the Football League with a narrow win over Aldershot thanks to Cameron McGeehan’s late winner.
The Hatters looked all set to share a point with the lowly Shots until the on-loan Norwich midfielder’s brave, brave header found the back of the net with just five minutes left on the clock to spark delirious celebrations at a packed Kenilworth Road.
The Town, who began showing two changes to side that earned a late victory at Dartford on Tuesday, were frustrated in a first half that saw them go close on several occasions and have a goal chalked off for offside.
Aldershot, in desperate need for the points to prevent a second successive relegation, had the first effort of the game when Josh Scott’s low effort rolled wide of the target with Mark Tyler at full stretch on nine minutes.
But the Town were playing some eye-catching, one-touch football and came close on 11 minutes when Luke Rooney – one of those two changes to the side – volleyed over the crossbar from the edge of the box.
The Hatters continued to probe looking for a way through the visitors defence and the majority inside Kenilworth Road thought the Town were ahead on 21 minutes but Paul Benson’s lob nested home – only for the effort to be chalked off for offside.
Ten minutes later the Hatters created their first good chance of the game when captain Ronnie Henry’s cross was met by the foot of Andre Gray from six yards but the Town striker’s firm, first-time shot was well-saved by Shots goalkeeper Glenn Morris.
As half-time approached the Hatters came close again. Alex Lawless’ clever pass set Gray away but after beating the Aldershot defence for pace his low effort was blocked again by Morris.
Aldershot were by no means second best in an entertaining first half and Mark Tyler needed to be alert on 44 minutes to deny the lively Adam Mekki’s low shot at the near post.
After the break both sides struggled to create much of clear-cut chances. Gray had the beating of his man down the right flank for pace all game but failed to pick out a team-mate on 54 minutes having raced clear and got to the byline.
The same happened on 66 minutes when Benson came within a whisker of connecting to Gray’s right-wing cross as the visitors continued to keep the Town at bay with some dogged defending.
Still sent on Mark Cullen and Matt Robinson in an attempt to snatch the points but Aldershot came close to taking the lead themselves with two efforts in the space of a minute when firstly Mekki’s low shot was saved by Tyler before Jordan Roberts’ scuffed his effort wide when well-placed at the back-post.
The boss made his third and final change with eight minutes left when introducing Jake Howells for Lawless and three minutes later the Town got the goal that won it. Howells was the architect – twisting and turn his man inside out to deliver a cross to the near post. McGeehan was first to it, stabbing an effort goalwards which was blocked. However, the teenager was quickest to the loose ball again and he dived bravely to head the ball over the line and cue for pandemonium inside a Kenilworth Road.
Four added minutes followed but the Town needed a fabulous reflex save from Tyler to ensure the three points when he somehow stuck an arm up to prevent Fraser Franks’ inadvertent deflection from six yards giving the Shots a late, late, late equaliser.
The Town, though, held out and the biggest crowd of the season were left to celebrate a vital victory. It’s so close now…get down to Kenilworth Road again on Tuesday night when Tamworth are the visitors.
TOWN: Tyler; Henry, Griffiths, McNulty, Franks; McGeehan, Ruddock (sub Robinson 67), Rooney (sub Cullen 75); Lawless (sub Howell 82), Gray, Benson. Subs not used: Shaw, Justham.
ATTENDANCE: 8,558, including 240 from Aldershot.