Aldershot Town v Dagenham & Redbridge match preview – Tuesday 21 March 2017
Saturday’s victory at home to Sutton United saw Aldershot Town bounce back from defeat at Guiseley with three precious points that kept them in the National League play-off hunt.
Bernard Mensah’s 94th minute close range finish eased the nerves of the Shots faithful, doubling the slender and rather fortuitous lead that The Shots had held since the 43rd minute, courtesy of a U’s own goal.
Rob Worrall previews the action…
In blustery conditions, Town’s performance rarely hit the heights they have reached so often at The EBB Stadium this season, where – with 40 points from 19 home matches – Waddock’s men now proudly boast the best home record in the National League. Sutton will have considered themselves unfortunate to trail at the break after a strong first-half performance in which Shots’ keeper Jake Cole twice denied Adam Coombes from close range.
Will Evans’ blocked shot in the 18th minute had been the home side’s only effort on target, prior to them taking the lead just before half-time, when good work from Mensah, Jake Gallagher and Idris Kanu put the visitors defence under pressure and Nicky Bailey’s goal line clearance thumped into the midriff of Will Puddy and into his own net.
The Shots put in an improved second-half performance but saved their best move of the match for stoppage time. Substitute Anthony Straker and Kundai Benyu exchanged a neat one-two on the halfway line, before the former sent over a pin point cross, which Mensah rifled home from inside the area to secure the points for Town.
Once again, Gary Waddock elected to make two changes to his starting eleven for the Sutton match, although his decision to leave out both natural strikers (top scorer Scott Rendell and six-goal Matt McClure) may have surprised many. There was just a third start for Bournemouth loanee Callum Buckley, who came in at left back, with Nick Arnold moving into a central midfield holding role.
Rendell, Straker and McClure all came on in the second-half, to stake respective claims for a starting place against high flying Dagenham & Redbridge.
Jim Kellermann will serve the third of his four-match ban against The Daggers and this game may come a little too soon for Manny Oyeleke, who recently returned from a loan spell at Canvey Island with a slight hamstring strain. The Shots’ only other confirmed, long-term absentee for this match will be central midfielder Liam Bellamy, who continues his recovery from a knee ligament injury.
Dagenham & Redbridge were formed in 1992 via a merger of Dagenham and Redbridge Forest, which itself was an amalgamation of the Ilford, Leytonstone and Walthamstow Avenue clubs. The new side took Redbridge Forest’s place in what is now the National League, with the Daggers going into the Football League for the first time as Champions of the division in 2007. Their nine Football League campaigns included a one-year stint in League One in 2010-11 (having been promoted via the play-offs after finishing 7th in the previous season) where they finished 21st. The Daggers suffered another relegation last season, finishing 23rd in League Two with just 34 points.
The East London club have bounced back strongly in 2016-17. With nine games to play, they currently sit fourth in the National League with an impressive 67 points from 37 games. However, they have lost four of their last 6 league matches and fallen behind in the race for the one automatic promotion spot available. That said, The Daggers still come to ‘Town’ with the second-best away record in the National League: 34 points from 18 matches on the road. Away from home they have lost six, drawn just one and picked up all three points on an impressive 11 occasions this term. Whilst Town have kept 17 clean sheets this season, Dagenham & Redbridge have failed to keep a clean sheet in any of their last 8 league games.
Tuesday evening sees the 25th meeting between Aldershot Town and Dagenham & Redbridge. The visitors have the slight edge, with 11 victories to The Shots’ 10, whilst just three matches between the two sides have been drawn. Earlier this season, Waddock’s men were perhaps a shade unlucky to come away from Victoria Road on the end of a 1-0 defeat, after impressing against John Still’s charges, who sat second in the league at the time. Corey Whitely’s 81st minute strike was all that separated the two teams.
Town’s last Football League victory came against The Daggers in April 2013 at the EBB Stadium, as Michael Rankine netted the only goal of the game. Six months earlier, the two sides had played out a goalless draw in East London. Overall, Aldershot Town have won three, drawn two & lost two of their last 7 games against Tuesday’s opposition, with the other defeat coming in a 3-2 home loss in February 2010.
Tuesday evening’s match referee is Adrian Quelch, who has taken charge of 15 National League games this season, issuing 48 yellow and, as yet, no red cards. He has previously refereed Aldershot Town on two occasions this season – the 0-0 draw at Torquay in October and the 2-1 victory at Woking on New Year’s Day.
BBC Surrey’s Rob Worrall and ex-Shots goalkeeper Nikki Bull will be covering the game on Tuesday evening. Tune in to the BBC Sport website from 7.35pm for full match commentary.
You can also contact us throughout the evening via Twitter. Tweet your predictions and thoughts on the game to @bbcsurreysport and @RobShot66