Eastleigh v Aldershot Town – Match Preview – Monday 28 August 2017
Following Aldershot Town’s surprise home defeat to Chester on Saturday – their first home league defeat since November 2016 – Gary Waddock’s men travel to The Silverlake Stadium, home of Eastleigh FC (who inflicted that last home defeat) on Bank Holiday Monday. The Shots are still looking for their first league victory against The Spitfires.
Rob Worrall previews the action…
With Monday’s game following just 48 hours after the Chester match, manager Gary Waddock will assess the fitness of his playing squad on Monday morning prior to naming his starting eleven, but Will Evans will definitely miss out (broken toe) as will Bernard Mensah (tendon). Jake Gallagher also missed Saturday’s game through illness and may not be well enough to feature.
Opposition – Eastleigh FC:
Founded: 1946 (as Swaythling Athletic FC)
Nickname: The Spitfires (the original Spitfire was assembled at Eastleigh Airport, now known as Southampton Airport)
Ground: Silverlake Stadium
Manager: Richard Hill
Having gained promotion from Conference South as champions in 2014, Eastleigh made the Play-Offs in their first season in non-league’s top flight. However, they couldn’t get past a strong Grimsby Town outfit, who went on to win promotion to the Football League. Since then, they’ve twice finished in mid-table, although they have had decent FA Cup runs in both seasons.
Richard Hill is in his second spell as manager of Eastleigh, having taken them up into the National League in 2014. Prior to that he enjoyed a brief but successful stint as manager of Stevenage Borough. In-between his two spells at The Silverlake, he spent two months in charge of National League South side Whitehawk before joining Aston Villa to be part of Steve Bruce’s recruitment staff. However, following the departure of Martin Allen after a run of seven games without a win, Hill returned to The Spitfires as Director of Football and Caretaker Manager, a position that was made permanent soon after.
Hill retained fifteen of last season’s Spitfires squad and has recruited a further twelve players to it, including some notable additions to his forward line. Chris Zebroski has returned for a second spell at the club and is joined by former Leyton Orient striker Paul McCallum and former Cambridge United forward Ben Williamson, who has already netted four times this season. Other signings include five players with Football League experience, in Danny Hollands (Crewe Alexandra), Sam Wood (Wycombe Wanderers), Mark Yeates (Notts County), Andrew Boyce (Grimsby Town) and Harvey read (Stoke City). Their most recent addition is the loan signing of Lincoln City’s central defender Callum Howe, until January 2018.
Whilst The Shots come into the game on the back of two straight defeats, Eastleigh’s most recent form is better. They currently sit in tenth place in the early National League table, having won two, drawn three and lost just one of their opening six matches. On Saturday, they led Leyton Orient until the 96th minute, only to concede in the final moments. The Spitfires’ home form to-date has been outstanding, especially given the quality of opposition so far at The Silverlake Stadium. They beat Sutton United (1-0), drew with current leaders Dagenham & Redbridge (2-2) and then saw off highly-fancied Tranmere Rovers (2-0). Away from home, they have also drawn at Bromley (0-0), and their only defeat to date came at Woking (2-1).
Whilst the first five fixtures between Aldershot Town and Eastleigh took place in the Hampshire Senior Cup, they’ve also met seven times since the latter’s most recent promotion. The Spitfires won the first four, plus they defeated The Shots 1-0 at the EBB Stadium in November 2016, thanks to a goal on the stroke of half-time from Mikael Mandron. Back in February, the sides drew 1-1, with a late Craig McAllister strike cancelling out a first-half goal for the visitors from Idris Kanu. Jim Kellermann was sent off for The Shots.
The Spitfires managed two victories in North-East Hampshire the previous season. In August 2015’s league game, Lee Cook’s late goal secured a 2-1 win, whilst in the First Round of the FA Trophy, three months later, another close affair was won by Ross Lafayette for the visitors with ten minutes to go. Sixteen days after that game, penalties from Josh Payne and Sam Hatton ensured a point apiece in a 1-1 draw at the Silverlake Stadium. In August 2013, in front of the BT Sport cameras, the two clubs played out a dour encounter decided by a 90th-minute goal from home striker Ben Wright, with the Spitfires completing the double three months later, as goals from Craig McAllister and Stuart Fleetwood secured a 2-0 win at the EBB Stadium.
Of those five Hampshire Senior Cup ties, Aldershot Town won four and lost one, with the Shots winning all three at the Silverlake Stadium. In January 1996, a Mark Anderson brace and one from Jamie Horton gave the visitors a 3-2 win in a second round tie, whilst goals from Roy Young and Darren Brodrick gave them a 2-1 victory at the quarter-final stage two years later. The most recent Hampshire Senior Cup tie, in March 2007, saw Kirk Hudson get the only goal in another quarter-final match. Meanwhile, the two ties at the EBB Stadium saw a win for each club. A Lee Charles brace in January 2003 gave the home side a 2-1 victory in a quarter-final match-up, whilst Eastleigh got a measure of revenge twelve months later, triumphing 1-0 in a fourth round game in North-East Hampshire.
Monday’s referee is Christopher O’Donnell, who has refereed three National League games so far this season, showing 17 yellow cards and no red cards to date. Last season he sent off six players in 19 games, showing 54 yellows. He only refereed Aldershot Town once last season – the 2-0 home victory over Boreham Wood.
BBC Surrey Sports Rob Worrall and former Shots striker Tim Sills will be covering the game live on Monday afternoon. Tune in to the BBC Sport website or BBC Sport App from 2.50pm for full match commentary. To interact with them, tweet @RobShot66 and @Sillsmeister.