North Ferriby United v Aldershot Town match preview – Saturday 22 April 2017
Aldershot Town’s crucial home victory over Dover Athletic on Bank Holiday Monday has set up an enthralling last couple of weeks in The Shots’ battle for a National League play-off place. Matt McClure’s 74th minute penalty lifted Town back above Dover into fifth place and ensured that the race will go right to the wire.
Rob Worrall previews the action…
In order to maintain a realistic hope of making the end-of-season Play-Offs, The Shots needed to secure all three points against the Kent outfit, whereas for Chris Kinnear’s men a point would have kept them two clear of Town with a game in hand. The Shots dominated the first half, without really troubling the visiting keeper. Dover gave up territory in order to defend with all bar prolific striker Ricky Miller. Miller received very little service but did find himself clear of the Aldershot defence on one occasion. However, he dwelt in possession and Will Evans was able to get back in time to block his effort on goal.
After the break, Town played with an increased tempo and begun to look more like scoring. With Dover clearly playing for a draw, Waddock decided that he no longer needed Jim Kellermann to sit in front of his defence and his replacement Idris Kanu came on and made immediate impact. Kanu’s direct play troubled the visitors and once again, he had a penalty appeal turned down. However, after being adjudged to have gone to ground too easily, Kanu received a yellow card for perceived simulation. Patience was ultimately to be the key to success for Waddock’s men and it was finally rewarded 16 minutes from time when referee Neil Hair awarded them a spot-kick, after Jake Gallagher was felled in the box. Striker Matt McClure, on a second-half substitute for regular penalty taker Scott Rendell, was coolness personified as he stepped up and drove home powerfully from 12 yards.
The visitors, who had been on the back-foot throughout the game, struggled to find a response until stoppage time, when they were controversially allowed to continue play after an obvious hand-ball by Miller. His blocked shot rebounded to Dover sub Chris Kinnear, who somehow skewed his shot wide from just eight yards.
The Shots saw Kanu dismissed when he received a second yellow card for a miss-timed tackle near the half way line, but held on for a vital win and leap-frogged Dover in the National League table as a result.
Waddock once again rotated his squad, making three changes to his starting line-up against Dover. Cheye Alexander replaced Anthony Straker, with Nick Arnold moving to left-back. Fenelon came in for Kanu and top scorer Scott Rendell also returned, for McClure.
Kanu will miss the trip to North Ferriby through suspension, and Liam Bellamy remains a long-term absentee, but otherwise Waddock should have a full squad to choose from. The Shots are looking to stretch their current run to just one defeat in 20 league games and travel north with 11 of Waddock’s current squad now signed on for next season, following Friday’s announcement that Mensah and Alexander have also extended their stay for another season.
Bellamy is now walking without the aid of crutches and making good progress following his lateral knee ligament injury.
North Ferriby United, from a village of less than 4000 people, were founded in 1934 and played in the East Riding Amateur League, the Yorkshire League and the Northern Counties East Football League, before winning promotion to the Northern Premier League in 2000. That league was won in 2013, with their first season in Conference North ending with a second-placed finish and a 3-0 aggregate semi-final loss to Guiseley.
The following season saw victory in the FA Trophy Final against Wrexham (a 5-4 penalty shootout win after a 3-3 draw), before another second-place league finish in 2015-16. On this occasion, however they defeated Boston United and AFC Fylde to progress to the national level for the first time.
After a steady start to life in the top flight of non-league football, the ‘Villagers’ struggled from late August through until the end of October, losing 13 of the 14 league matches they played in that period. They rallied to win three out of four as 2016 drew to a close, but a bleak winter, results-wise, left them looking strong favourites for relegation and that was confirmed on Easter Monday when, despite taking an early lead, they succumbed to a 3-1 defeat at Barrow.
Under manager Steve Housham, they have managed 39 points to date, winning six home games and six away, including a notable double over Gateshead and a creditable 1-0 victory at high flying Forest Green Rovers on Good Friday. They have only drawn three matches all season and are currently on a 24-match run without one. Scoring goals has been their biggest issue, having managed just 32 in their 44 National League games played to date. The Villagers have the worst home record in the league, with 20 points earned from their 22 matches at Grange Lane (Won 6, Drawn 2, Lost 14).
Most Apps: Villagers’ goalkeeper Rory Watson has played all bar four league matches this season, making 40 appearances.
Most Goals: Reece Thompson has averaged a goal every three games, with 12 this season from 36 appearances.
Key Player: Thompson, who has scored in each of North Ferriby’s last four games.
Aldershot Town’s 2-0 home victory over the Villagers back in late August was the only time that the two teams have met. Goals from Bernard Mensah and Liam Bellamy secured all three points at The EBB Stadium.
Saturday’s match referee is Anthony Backhouse, who has taken charge of 20 National League matches this season, issuing just 49 yellow cards and 0 reds to date. He has previously refereed Aldershot Town on just one occasion this season, the 1-1 away draw at Southport.
BBC Surrey’s Rob Worrall and ex-Shots goalkeeper Nikki Bull will be covering the game on Saturday afternoon. Tune in to the BBC Sport website from 2.50pm for full match commentary.
You can also contact us throughout the afternoon via Twitter. Tweet your predictions and thoughts on the game to @RobShot66 and @BullWorldTrip.