Shots v Boreham Wood match preview – 3 December 2016
Aldershot Town’s terrible run of results continued at the weekend with the visitors going down to a 2-0 defeat at Sutton United. That loss, along with results elsewhere in midweek, dropped them to 12th in the league table as they host promotion-chasing Boreham Wood on Saturday afternoon. BBC Surrey’s Gavin Denison previews the action.
Gary Waddock’s side capped a miserable November with a defeat that saw them spurn chances and any element of good fortune. An even first half saw Matt McClure miss a hat-trick of opportunities, whilst Jake Gallagher forced a fine save from ex-Shots goalkeeper Ross Worner. At the other end, Mark Smith blocked a near post effort from Maxine Biamou, whilst Roarie Deacon shot wide when well-placed in the fifth minute. However, Gallagher was shown an incredibly harsh red card in first-half stoppage time and Aldershot Town never recovered. Another ex-Shot, Jamie Collins, headed in a free kick with his former side temporarily down to nine men just before the hour mark, and he added his second eleven minutes from time to finish the contest. Smith also made smart stops from Dan Spence and Craig McAllister.
Despite Aldershot Town’s sequence of five defeats and just five points from their last seven league outings, it is worth highlighting that this is the Shots’ best first half of a season since they picked up 37 points in the opening 23 games of the 2009-10 League Two Play-Off campaign. One of the issues for Waddock’s side in recent weeks has been the lack of early goals. In their first eight league games of the campaign, his team scored eight first half goals and got the first goal on five occasions. In the fifteen league games following that, they’ve only managed two first half goals, both of which were the opening goals of the game. It’s a trend that needs to change if the Shots are going to get back to winning ways.
Boreham Wood was formed in 1948 by the amalgamation of two local sides, Boreham Rovers and Royal Retournez, winning promotion to the Isthmian League for the first time in 1974. In 2010, the Wood won promotion to Conference South via the Ryman League Premier Division Play-Offs. After four mid-table finishes, they made the play-offs for the first time in 2014-15 having finished second. After a 4-2 aggregate semi-final win over Havant & Waterlooville, the Hertfordshire side beat Whitehawk 2-1 after extra-time, winning promotion to the top-flight of non-league football for the first time in the club’s history. They then won their last three games of last season to finish 19th, two points above the drop zone.
This year, however, the Hertfordshire side have been a much improved outfit, currently sitting 7th in the National League table with 36 points from 22 games. The stand-out statistic from their opening half of the campaign is their defensive record, with only Tranmere Rovers bettering their total of eighteen goals conceded in those 22 league fixtures. They’ve won three of their last five league outings, but all of those have been at Meadow Park. The Wood have lost their last four games away from home, with league defeats at Lincoln City, Bromley and Guiseley, plus an FA Cup loss at Notts County. Overall, Boreham Wood have the ninth-best away record in the division with sixteen points from eleven games.
Luke Garrard, who took charge in October 2015, has overseen the club’s dramatic improvement this season, but he was disappointed with his side’s 3-1 defeat at Guiseley last Saturday. Speaking to the club’s official website, he said: “they’ve not actually created anything for them to go and win a game of football. I felt it was very much down to our errors… we dominated the ball, I felt, throughout, but we didn’t really create any opportunities. Our front four didn’t really click, I didn’t think there was a fluency to us… Before that, we had the best defensive record in the league, which was a superb accolade and that’s down to the boys, and credit to them for defending, but today I’ve questioned that.”
Gary Waddock made three changes to his starting line-up for the trip to Sutton United, with two of the three changes made to his defensive quartet. Jack Saville returned at centre back to make just his sixth league start of the season in place of the suspended Will Evans, whilst Cheye Alexander came in on the right side of the defence for the injured Nick Arnold. The other change saw Idris Kanu preferred to Iffy Allen on the left-hand side of midfield. The Shots boss could only name three substitutes, whilst Saville’s departure meant striker Scott Rendell played at centre back for a portion of the second period.
The Shots boss could find his selection choices limited for the game against Boreham Wood, with as many as seven players potentially being unavailable for the game. Midfielder Jake Gallagher will serve the first game of his three match ban this weekend, whilst goalkeeper Jake Cole is going to be out for a couple of weeks with an ankle injury. Callum Reynolds has missed two games due a head injury but will hope to be back to face his former club, whilst his centre back partner Will Evans will be available after completing a one-game suspension. Arnold has an ankle injury that will keep him out until the New Year, Liam Bellamy has missed the last four games with a knee strain, but is back in training, whilst Shamir Fenelon has also been out for the same length of the time because of an ankle problem. Saville had to go to hospital after the Sutton United game because of a severe head wound, so his participation this weekend must also be in doubt.
Luke Garrard, who took over as Boreham Wood manager in October 2015, oversaw a fairly dramatic squad overhaul over the summer with plenty of movement in and out of the club. He did lose a number of key players, including Club Captain Callum Reynolds, who joined the Shots having made over 150 league appearances since initially joining the Hertfordshire side in March 2012. Fellow centre-back Scott Doe and midfielder Luke Howell returned to Dagenham & Redbridge, first choice goalkeeper James Russell left to join St Albans City (as did defender Josh Hill and forward Junior Morias) and midfielder Billy Clifford moved into the Football League with Crawley Town. Clovis Kamdjo and Delano Sam-Yorke returned to Forest Green Rovers after the expiration of their long-term loan deals, whilst veteran striker Charlie MacDonald signed for Ryman League Division One South side Greenwich Borough. The six players who have re-signed on permanent terms were defenders Joe Devera, Danny Woodards, David Stephens and Ben Nunn, midfielder Conor Clifford and forward Ricky Shakes.
The Boreham Wood manager has strengthened his side with ten permanent signings and three long-term loanees. Garrard has an outstanding new central midfield pairing with ex-Braintree Town skipper Kenny Davis (nine goals in 2015-16) and Woking’s former Club Captain Mark Ricketts moving to Meadow Park. Both have been joined there by a former teammate – centre-back Matt Paine in Davis’ case, and the former Cards winger Bruno Andrade for the latter. Grant Smith (Bognor Regis Town) is the new first choice in goal, whilst Femi Ilesanmi (York City) has already made the left back spot his own. Morgan Ferrier (Hemel Hempstead Town) leads the side with nine goals in the campaign so far, whilst ex-Shots trialist Angelo Balanta (Carlisle United), Daniel Uchechi (Swedish side BSC Hurturkel) and Rhys Murrell-Williamson (Dulwich Hamlet) will look to provide extra goals. This cause should be helped by the return of last season’s seven-goal top scorer Jamie Lucas, who will be on loan from Bristol Rovers until 28 January. Midfielder Aaron Kuhl (son of the Shots’ former promotion-winning Assistant Manager Martin Kuhl) is on loan from Reading until the same date, whilst winger Anthony Jeffrey has returned to the club on a season-long loan deal from Forest Green Rovers.
Ferrier has missed the last three games with a hamstring injury, but apart from that, Garrard should have a fully-fit squad from which to choose this weekend.
Saturday afternoon sees the sixteenth meeting between these two sides with Aldershot Town winning ten, losing three and drawing twice. Their first meeting at National League level took place last October at Meadow Park, with Charlie Walker netting in the 10th minute of a 1-0 win. However, Boreham Wood got a modicum of revenge in April with a 2-1 win at the EBB Stadium. Ricky Shakes gave the visitors an early lead, with Jake Gallagher equalising two minutes later. Chris Barker was wrongly sent off for a supposed deliberate handball in the 76th minute, with Conor Clifford stepping up to dispatch the winner from the penalty spot. Earlier this season, the two teams played out a 1-1 draw, with Morgan Ferrier and Matt McClure scoring in a three-minute window during the second half. Arguably the most famous fixture between these clubs was the 1999 Isthmian League Cup Final, which Aldershot Town won 2-1 after extra time, thanks to a Gary Abbott brace.
Aldershot Town’s home record against Boreham Wood is very impressive with five wins and just the two defeats in seven games, keeping four clean sheets and conceding just five goals. As well as a 1-0 home victory in the 2002-03 Ryman League Premier Division season (Nick Roddis getting the only goal of the game), the Shots recorded a thumping 6-0 win in November 1998, with Roy Young and Gary Abbott both netting hat-tricks in a Ryman League Premier Division fixture. Former Head Groundsman Andy Nunn scored in a 3-1 win for the hosts in April 1995, whilst the first triumph for the visitors in North-East Hampshire came in November 2001 with a 2-0 win, also in the Ryman League Premier Division.
Saturday afternoon’s referee is Chris O’Donnell from Bedfordshire, who is in his first season on the National Referees list. So far this season, he’s officiated in ten National League fixtures, showing 35 yellow cards and four red cards.
BBC Surrey’s Gavin Denison and Rob Worrall of the Aldershot Town media team will be covering the game on Saturday afternoon. Tune in to 104.0 & 104.6 FM or DAB from 2.10pm for team news and pre-match interviews, followed by full match commentary via the BBC Surrey website and BBC Sport app from 2.50pm.
You can also contact us throughout the afternoon via Twitter. Tweet your predictions and thoughts on the game to @gavindenison and @bbcsurreysport