Tranmere will take on Ebbsfleet United in Saturday’s National League play-off semi-final after Daryl McMahon’s team came through an incredible game at Aldershot tonight.
Aldershot and Ebbsfleet finished within one point of each other in the league, and the two teams were closely matched throughout tonight’s tie.
The home side were dealt a blow by having to use all of their subs by the midpoint of the second half due to injuries. They still probably edged things until Ebbsfleet were awarded a penalty.
Experienced striker Danny Kedwell stepped-up to take it, but his poor effort rolled down the middle of the goal and allowed Shots keeper Lewis Ward to save well with his feet.
The injury to Aldershot midfielder Kellerman had led to a lengthy stoppage, subsequently seeing nine minutes added time. Still neither team could find the winner.
Into extra time, and Aldershot took advantage, Nicke Kebamba putting them in-front in the 106th minute. The EBB Stadium erupted, and it looked like Shots were heading back to the Wirral for another play-off tie.
However, with little over one minute of extra time remaining, the Ebbsfleet pressure paid off as defender Dave Winfield rose highest at the back post to send the game to penalties.
The home side took the upper hand once again, with keeper Ward saving another two penalties and putting his team within one successful kick of victory.
It wasn’t to be though, as Kinsella hit the post for Aldershot before Fabian Robert saw his kick saved by the outstanding Nathan Ashmore – the keeper (pictured above) who played well at Prenton Park this season having another absolute blinder in this game tonight.
As the kicks entered sudden death, the home team’s keeper Ward – a hero in the making having saved three penalties on the night – missed his penalty, allowing Dean Rance to slot the ball home. A cruel blow for the young goalkeeper on-loan from Reading.
It was an incredible game of football and you cannot help but feel sorry for Aldershot once again – a good club whose time will surely come.
As for Ebbsfleet, they will be a tough nut for Rovers to crack on Saturday lunchtime. Full build-up to follow over the coming days here on roversrearguard.com.