Following a tough test up at Hartlepool United last time out, Aldershot Town return to the EBB Stadium on Saturday to host the National League’s form side, Boreham Wood.
Luke Garrard’s ‘Wood are unbeaten in the league since October 2019. That was the same month that The Shots drew at Meadow Park, with Wood down in 14th place at the time – they now sit 5th!
After picking up an ankle injury at Victoria Park last weekend, Shots top scorer Mo Bettamer is definitely out of Saturday’s game and unlikely to feature for a few weeks. Shots boss Danny Searle will continue to monitor Alex Finney’s groin injury. George Fowler returned to the bench up at Hartlepool after several months out with a knee injury and is pushing for a start soon.
Name: Boreham Wood FC
Nickname: The Wood
Manager: Luke Garrard
Stadium: Meadow Park
2018/19 Final National League position: 20th
Current National League position: 5th
Promoted via the play-offs from National League South in 2014/15, The Wood’s first season in Non-League’s top tier saw them avoid relegation in dramatic style by winning their final three games. That allowed them to build further and the work they put in paid dividends with a top-half finish in 2016-17. The following season, The Wood improved further, finishing in 4th place and going on to make the Promotion final, only to lose out to Tranmere Rovers. However last season, they flirted with relegation, ultimately finishing in 20th place, one place outside the drop zone.
Luke Garrard became the youngest manager in any of England’s top five divisions when he was appointed as the boss of Boreham Wood aged just 30 in October 2015. A former Wood defender, Garrard started out as a trainee with Spurs before moving on to Swindon Town where he spent three years between 2002 and 2005. He spent time on the books of Bishop’s Stortford and Boreham Wood upon leaving The County Ground and then moved on to AFC Wimbledon in 2006 for a four-year stint and over 100 appearances. He initially returned to Borehamwood on loan in 2009/10 before making the reunion permanent that summer and he made well over 100 appearances before succeeding Ian Allinson in the Meadow Park hot seat. In 2017-18, he steered the club to their highest ever finish 94th place) and to the play-off final at Wembley. Last season was a challenging one for Garrard as his side narrowly avoided relegation, but this season they have bounced back strongly under his leadership and sit fifth.
Boreham Wood Squad:
Garrard kept eleven of last season’s playing squad and has, so far, brought in nine new faces. In goal, Ryan Huddart has since departed to Bromley, with the highly rated Nathan Ashmore joining from Ebbsfleet United. Familiar names staying put in North London included; Mark Ricketts, Tom Champion, David Stephens, Keiran Murtagh, Jamal Fyfield and Sorba Thomas. Wood strengthened their ranks with the likes of former Shots midfielder Adam McDonnell and most notably, strikers Tyrone Marsh Macclesfield Town) and Kabongo Tshimanga (Oxford City) both of whom are absolutely flying, with 14 and 15 goals respectively in all competitions. More recently, Garrard brought in striker Ade Yussuff (who once scored a hat-trick against Shots for Barrow) on loan from Blackpool and midfielder Adam May (another former Shots loanee) from Portsmouth, on loan to the end of the season.
Saturday’s referee is Karl Evans. It will be just his eighth National League game this season. To date he has shown 17 yellow cards and 0 red cards. He took charge of Aldershot Town’s 0-0 draw up at Chorley last October.
There will be live BBC Surrey Sport coverage of the game on Saturday afternoon, with Rob Worrall and a special guest. Tune in to the BBC Sport website (or the BBC Sport App) from 2:55pm for full match commentary. To interact with the commentary team, tweet @RobShot66.