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Fleet fail to cope with play-off hopefuls


Gravesend & Northfleet 1 Aldershot 3

JONNY DIXON was the star man for Aldershot in a game that the visitors never looked like losing.

His hat-trick took the points and kept Aldershot in the hunt for a Conference play-off spot.

Gravesend struggled to create chances and sorely missed the creative powers of Andy Drury (ankle) and captain Steve McKimm (bronchitis).

Town on the other hand, not only had a winning strike force in Dixon and partner Tim Sills, but their job was made easier thanks to some poor Fleet defending.

Conceding their first goals of 2005, Fleet were behind inside 10 minutes when Jamie Skinner, returning to the starting line-up after injury, failed to clear a cross and Dixon - on loan from Wycombe Wanderers - pounced.

The home side went close to cancelling out the early opener when Skinner's excellent free-kick was headed wide by Roy Essandoh.

James Pullen was called into action as Aldershot created a trio of chances and he did well to twice keep out the lively Dixon and save a 15-yard Nick Crittenden drive.

Ford made a double substitution at half-time bringing on Moussa Sidibe and Jimmy Jackson and they posed problems for the Shot defence.

However, it was Fleet who were causing each other problems, a misunderstanding between Jackson and Skinner gifting Sills a free shot, which he blasted into the arms of a grateful Pullen.

Aldershot doubled their lead on 56 minutes, Dixon heading home after a pinpoint cross from the left by Dwain Clarke.

Three minutes later Fleet gave themselves a life-line when Jay Saunders made it 2-1, latching onto a deep Skinner cross to net his fifth goal of the season.

The hope of an unlikely comeback lasted just five minutes until Dixon hit an unstoppable, curling volley for a deserved hat-trick after good work from Sills.

Aldershot manager Terry Brown praised his players and said: "Our two centre backs were magnificent. Against Roy Essandoh who is a real handful, my two youngsters Will Antwi and Brett Johnson won their battles and played superbly."

Gravesend: Pullen, Gledhill, Bunce, McCarthy, Skinner, Protheroe (Jackson 45), Saunders, Surey, Pinnock (Sidibe 45), Essandoh (Harry 76), Omoyinmi. Subs Not Used: Wilkerson, Popovic.

Attendance: 1,491.

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