Match Preview: Braintree vs Shots

Braintree Town v Aldershot Town Match Preview – Saturday 23rd February 2019

Aldershot Town travel to Essex on Saturday in search of victory in the National League, something that has now eluded them since early November. The Shots last win came against Saturday’s opponents, Braintree Town, courtesy of a late Adam McDonnell free-kick at the EBB Stadium. BBC Surrey’s Rob Worrall previews the action…

Shots Squad:
The 2018/19 Shots injury curse struck again at Halifax last weekend, when Bristol Rovers loanee Bernard Mensah picked up a first half knee injury and left The MBI Shay Stadium on crutches. Mensah now joins Lewis Kinsella, James Rowe and George Fowler on Town’s medium to long term absentee list. Shamir Fenelon, Jacob Berkeley-Agyapong and Marvin McCoy all took steps towards their return to first team action with involvement in an under-23 game last weekend. However, none are likely to be involved on Saturday. Luke Wanadio has joined Dulwich Hamlet on loan to the end of the season.

Name: Braintree Town FC
Founded: 1898
Nickname: The Iron
Manager: Danny Searle
Stadium: Cressing Road 2017/18
Final National League South position: 6th & Play-Off Winners
Current National League position: 24th

Recent History:
Braintree won promotion the hard way from National League South last season. Having suffered relegation in 2016/17, The Iron fixed their sights on an instant return to the fifth tier but had to go through a gruelling play-off campaign to achieve their goal. They almost didn’t make it to the top seven either; a one-point deduction for inadvertently fielding an ineligible player left them three points outside the play-off zone with just four games to play. However, ten points from twelve saw them finish sixth and they saw off Hemel Hempstead on penalties, won 1-0 at Dartford and overcame Hampton & Richmond in the Play-Off Final shootout to seal promotion. This season has proven to be a struggle so far for The Iron, but recent wins against high-flying Salford (1-0) and Barnet (4-0) have given the Essex club fresh hope of avoiding an immediate return to the National League South.

The Gaffer:
Following the recent departure of Hakan Hayrettin (to Maidstone United), former Assistant Manager Danny Searle has stepped into the Manager’s role at Cressing Road and in doing so, became Braintree’s third boss this term. Brad Quinton, who steered the Essex side to promotion last season, stepped down in early October.

Whilst Quinton initially kept faith in the majority of last season’s play-off winning squad, he held off from offering contracts to most, until they could prove themselves at National League level – and, consequently, many of them departed following the club’s poor start to the campaign, closely followed by Quinton himself. Key losses included club captain Marc Anthony-Okoye (Bromley) and more recently, Mo Bettamer (Barnet) and Reece Grant (Aldershot)

Twelve players stayed initially and key additions this season include; Goalkeeper Ben Killip (Grimsby Town), Winger Lyle Della-Verde (Dartford), Callum Morton (5 goals in 11 appearances to date on loan from West Bromwich Albion, former Shots defender Kodi Lyons-Foster and more recently, another former Shot, Winger Iffy Allen has joined from Dulwich Hamlet.

Saturday’s referee is Will Finnie, who has refereed 16 National League games to date this season, showing 56 Yellow Cards and 5 Red Cards. He has not taken charge of any Shots games this season, but has twice refereed at Cressing Road.

There will be live BBC Surrey Sport coverage of the game on Saturday afternoon with Andrew Raeburn and Aldershot Town’s all-time leading goal scorer Mark Butler. Tune in to the BBC Sport website (or the BBC Sport App) from 2:50pm for full match commentary. To interact with the commentary team, tweet @andrew_raeburn.