Aldershot Town v Chester – Match Preview – Saturday 26 August 2017
Aldershot Town were beaten in the National League for the first time this season last weekend. Their 2-1 defeat at Borehamwood saw them relinquish top spot to Sutton United and they now sit third, with 10 points from their opening five matches. On Saturday, they return to The EBB Stadium to take on 21st place Chester, who will arrive in search of their first National League victory this term.
Rob Worrall previews the action…
Will Evans will definitely miss out (broken toe) and Bernard Mensah (tendon) is likely to be out for a few weeks yet. Aldershot Town manager Gary Waddock should otherwise have a fully fit playing squad to choose from.
Opposition – Chester FC:
Nickname: The Blues
Ground: Deva Stadium (also known as the Lookers Vauxhall Stadium)
Manager: Jon McCarthy
Chester sat 13th at the beginning of April 2017, but a closing run of six straight defeats saw them plummet to 19th place, narrowly avoiding relegation. Since reforming in 2010, they have gained three promotions to be back at National League level.
Jon McCarthy had a successful playing career during which he made over 400 senior appearances for the likes of York City, Port Vale and Birmingham City, and also represented Northern Ireland on 18 occasions. Middlesbrough-born McCarthy was appointed as First-Team Coach at Chester under Steve Burr in January 2014 but was given caretaker charge in April 2016 and guided the team to National League safety after securing three wins and was then handed the role on a permanent basis.
McCarthy lost four players from last season’s playing squad, including centre-back Sam Hughes, who was snapped up by Premier League side Leicester City. He released a further six players, including – rather surprisingly – Elliott Durrell, who joined Macclesfield Town. He retained 10 of his squad and has added a further 12 players to it, three of which have moved the opposite way to Durrell, joining from their Cheshire neighbours at Moss Rose: defenders John McCombe and Andy Halls, plus midfielder Kingsley James. Striker Ross Hannah returned to Chester from Barrow, and was joined by midfielder Paul Turnbull in leaving the Bluebirds for The Blues. McCarthy has also brought in three other players from National League clubs: left-back Lathaniel Rowe-Turner (from Torquay United) and strikers Nyal Bell (Gateshead) and Harry White, who was Solihull Moors’ top scorer last season with 12 goals.
Form & Fitness:
Despite widespread belief that McCarthy has recruited well this summer, Chester have struggled to get results early on and are without a win from their opening four games. Their first fixture at Solihull Moors was postponed due to safety issues at Damson Park. Chester then drew each of their first three matches with AFC Fylde (1-1), FC Halifax Town (0-0) and Hartlepool United (1-1), prior to last Saturday’s late 3-2 defeat at home to league leaders Sutton United.
Saturday afternoon sees the ninth meeting between Aldershot Town and Chester, with the Shots winning two, drawing two and losing four of the previous encounters. Chester won the most recent match between the two sides 2-0 at the Deva Stadium in December 2016. Three months earlier, The Shots and The Blues played out a goalless draw at the EBB Stadium.
Chester inflicted Aldershot Town’s record defeat at the Deva Stadium on 8th March 2016. Four goals from James Alabi and two from Sam Hughes put the Blues 6-1 up at half-time, with Ross Hannah’s brace rounding things off for the hosts in the second half. Ross Lafayette and Dan Walker got the merest of consolations for Barry Smith’s side in Chester’s 8-2 romp. Two months earlier, Sean McGinty, Alfie Pavey (on his debut) and Jim Stevenson got the goals in a 3-1 home win for the Shots. The Cheshire side did the double over Aldershot Town in the 2014-15 campaign, notching a pair of 1-0 victories, whilst the previous season saw The Shots pick up four points.
Aldershot Town previously played four league games against Chester City, with a record of one win, one defeat and two draws. Both sides won a game apiece at the Deva Stadium, with The Shots’ Marvin Morgan scoring the only goal of the game in November 2008. Four-and-a-half years earlier, the Cheshire club had won 4-2 in a game that saw both teams reduced to ten men.
Chester City (confusingly also previously known as Chester) also had 45 games against Aldershot FC between 1948 and 1989. The Shots’ record at the club’s old Sealand Road ground was poor, winning five, losing eleven and drawing six of their 22 visits. However, their overall record against the Blues was very much in their favour, thanks to a string of excellent results at home. Of those 45 games, Aldershot FC won nineteen, drew thirteen and lost thirteen.
Saturday’s referee is Gary Parsons, who has taken the middle in two National League games this season, showing six yellow cards and no red cards. This is his first season refereeing at National League level.
BBC Sport Online’s Adam Williams and a special guest summariser will be covering the game live on Saturday afternoon. Tune in to the BBC Sport website (or the BBC Sport App) from 2.50pm for full match commentary. To interact with Adam, tweet @adam_j_williams