Following last Saturday’s thrilling 1-1 draw with second placed Harrogate Town, Aldershot Town hit the road (or perhaps the rails!) north on Saturday, where they will take on 13th placed Hartlepool United.
The Shots lost 3-0 at home to Pools earlier in the season, but will be looking to extend their unbeaten record at Victoria Park to a third season, following a 1-1 draw last term and a 2-0 victory the season before.
Rob Worrall previews the game:
Shots boss Danny Searle should have the vast majority of his playing squad available for Saturday’s game. George Fowler still needs some minutes but is now back in full training following a long-term knee injury. Alex Finney is a doubt after limping off with a groin related issue in the first half of the Harrogate game. It remains to be seen if Searle manages to add to his playing squad prior to Saturday’s trip.
Name: Hartlepool United
Manager: Dave Challinor
Stadium: Victoria Park
2018/19 National League position: 17th
2019/20 Current position: 13th
Initially formed in 1908, from a successful Amateur Cup winning team, Hartlepool United joined the Football League in 1921 and until 2017, spent their entire existence in the lower two divisions. Their future looked precarious for long spells two seasons ago, but new ownership has now steadied the ship.
Former Tranmere Rovers, Stockport County and Bury defender Dave Challinor is now in charge of Pools, having taken over from Craig Hignett mid-season. Challinor ended his playing career and started his managerial experience at Colwyn Bay, whom he guided to Runners-Up spot in the Northern Premier League in his first season at the helm, eventually gaining promotion to what was the Conference North via the Play-Offs. In November 2011, he was announced as the new manager of AFC Fylde, who at that time, played in the Northern Premier League Division 1 North. His impact was instant, gaining promotion (as Champions) in his first season and then guiding The Coasters to NPL Play-Offs the following season. They lost on that occasion, but gained promotion to the Conference North twelve months later. He guided them to the play-offs in each of their first two seasons, losing out at the ‘elimintaor’ stage first time out and then making it to the Wembley final, only to lose to Salford City last season. After a poor start with AFC Fylde this season, Challinor left Mill Farm, but was soon back in work, following the departure of Hignett in late 2019,
Hignett kept 15 players from last season and brought in 11. Notable amongst their newcomers were; Keeper Ben Killip (Braintree), Defenders Michael Raynes (Crewe Alexandra) and Gus Mafuta (Salford City) plus striker Gime Toure (AFC Fylde). Toure is Pools current top scorer with 12 goals in all competitions to date this season. Former Shots loanee Nicke Kabamba started the season at Victoria Park but has since moved on to Kilmarnock and is now scoring regularly for them in the Scottish Premiership. Luke Molineux made his loan deal from Sunderland permanent only to pick up a long-term injury. However, he has recently returned to the playing squad. Challinor has made some recent additions to his squad including; the loans of Macauley Southam-Hales, a Right-Back from Fleetwood and defender Tim Odusina (Norwich City) for the remainder of the season. Aidan Keena, a Striker from Hearts has also joined.
Saturday’s referee is Andrew Kitchin who has previously taken charge of 10 National League games, showing 27 Yellow Cards and no Red cards to date. Earlier this season, he refereed Aldershot Town’s 2-1 victory over Stockport County at Edgeley Park. He has taken the middle in two matches at Victoria Park this season, both of which resulted in defeat for the home side.
BBC Surrey Sports Rob Worrall and Shots supporter Alan Baldwin 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 the commentary team, tweet @RobShot66.