Shots v North Ferriby United match preview – 27 August 2016
Aldershot Town suffered their second league defeat of the campaign on Saturday, going down to a 2-0 loss at Braintree Town. The Shots will look to bounce back immediately this weekend as they welcome newly-promoted North Ferriby United to the EBB Stadium. BBC Surrey’s Gavin Denison previews the action.
Getting a positive result at a windy Cressing Road was always going to be difficult, but Gary Waddock’s side got off to a terrible start, with former Shots loanee Jake Goodman heading in from a corner after 9 minutes. The visitors then had their best spell of the game, with Scott Rendell missing the most clear-cut chance when he headed wide from Matt McClure’s pinpoint cross. Rendell and Gallagher forced saves from Iron goalkeeper Jamie Butler, whilst Jack Saville headed wide from a corner. Butler blocked from McClure five minutes into the second half, whilst Mark Smith did the same at the other end from Michael Cheek. Aldershot Town had plenty of possession for the rest of the game, but failed to open up the home defence, and it was Simeon Akinola who finished a 76th-minute counterattack to seal the points.
After winning just seven home league games in the whole of the 2015-16 campaign, the Shots fans will have been delighted with two wins and two clean sheets to start this season at the EBB Stadium. Aldershot Town haven’t won three straight home league games since the winter of 2013, when they defeated Southport 5-1, Braintree Town 2-1 and Tamworth 6-0. The side’s defensive record has been good this season, with just five goals conceded. Only five National League sides have conceded fewer. Those have tended to come either very early or very late, with the Shots having conceded two goals in the opening nine minutes and another pair of goals after the 74-minute mark.
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.
The Villagers made a slow start to their National League campaign, picking up just one point from their opening three games. That came in a home goalless draw against Braintree Town, before they suffered successive away defeats to Lincoln City (6-1) and Dover Athletic (2-0). However, a pair of home wins against Guiseley and Torquay United has moved them up to 15th in the table. North Ferriby United had the 7th-best away record in National League North last season, whilst only champions Solihull Moors managed more their 82 league goals in 42 games. In this campaign, however, they’ve struggled defensively and only three sides have ‘bettered’ their total of ten goals conceded in this campaign.
Steve Housham, who spent the previous five years managing Gainsborough Trinity in National League North before taking over in June, is in a positive mood. Earlier this week, he told the club’s official website: “I’ve told the lads to keep their feet on the ground and keep enjoying the experience. We have got the belief that we can win and the team are buzzing. On Saturday, we needed to up our game to get the win and I feIt the team reacted positively to the half-time team talk. I want the fans to know that we’re all in this together as a group and for them to keep enjoying the experience too. We are working hard in training this week in defence to ensure we keep getting points. There are tough away games to come.”
Gary Waddock made four changes for the trip to Braintree Town on Saturday, with one being injury-related and three being selection decisions. Liam Bellamy, who picked up a foot injury the previous Tuesday against Bromley, wasn’t risked, so Josh Wakefield came into central-midfield for a classy full Shots debut. Will Evans, Anthony Straker and Jim Kellermann all dropped to the bench to be replaced by Jack Saville, Nick Arnold and Iffy Allen. Due to injuries, the Aldershot Town boss was only able to name the three substitutes at the weekend, so he’ll be hoping to increase that number for the visit of North Ferriby United on Saturday.
Speaking after the game at Braintree, Waddock was confident that Bellamy, goalkeeper Jake Cole (back) and Shamir Fenelon (hamstring) would be fit for the Bank Holiday weekend’s games. The only definite absentee will be last season’s top scorer Charlie Walker. Whilst he won’t need surgery after damaging his ankle ligaments in pre-season, he will be unable to take part in any footballing activity for at least a month, meaning it’s looking unlikely that he’ll feature for the first team until mid-October at the earliest.
More than most of the promoted managers to the National League, Steve Housham has had to give his squad a significant re-build. Six players followed the previous manager Billy Heath to AFC Halifax Town in the summer, including 21-goal top scorer Tom Denton, captain and National League North Team of the Season midfielder Liam King (nineteen goals), fellow midfielder Nathan Hotte, defenders Josh Wilde and Danny Hone, plus back-up goalkeeper Tom Nicholson. The Villagers also lost their Player of the Year – Ashley Palmer – with the centre-back signing for National League rivals Guiseley, whilst first-choice goalkeeper Adam Nicklin and midfielders Russell Fry (over 400 appearances for North Ferriby United), Adam Bolder (retired) and Tom Davie (Bradford Park Avenue) have also left the club . A number of last season stand-out performers have remained at Grange Lane, however, including defenders Ben Middleton, Mark Gray, Louis Bruce and Sam Topliss, thirteen-goal midfielder Danny Clarke (who’s the new Club Captain), plus forwards Curtis Bateson (thirteen goals), Ryan Kendall and Danny Emerton.
Like Heath, the new manager has also had his pick of his former side’s squad. The three arrivals so far from Gainsborough Trinity are player-assistant manager, and former Chester City and Stevenage striker, Darryn Stamp, defender Stephen Brogan and midfielder Simon Russell. Goalkeeper Rory Watson has signed on a season-long loan deal from Hull City, whilst the midfield ranks have been bolstered by the signings of former Blackpool man Connor Oliver, Conner Robinson from Lincoln City, Jordan Cooke (Buxton FC) and Ryan Fallowfield (Harrogate Town). In defence, new signings Taron Hare (York City), Liam Slade (Burton Albion) and Jake Skelton (Leeds United) have started games already this season, whilst Vinny Mukendi (Oxford City) and Alfons Fosu-Mensah (Skelmersdale United) provide new options in the attacking third.
Brogan, Bruce and Skelton were all left out of the Villagers’ defence for last weekend’s win against Torquay United, so Housham will have a decision to make about whether to bring them back into the starting eleven or stick with Gray, Middleton and Slade.
Aldershot Town have never played a competitive fixture against North Ferriby United, who also never played against Aldershot FC.
If he features on Saturday, Anthony Straker will be making his 200th league appearance for the Shots.
Saturday afternoon’s referee is Sam Allison from Wiltshire, who is in his first season on the National Referee’s List. This season he’s officiated in two National League fixtures, showing six yellow cards and no red cards.
BBC Surrey’s Gavin Denison and Aldershot Town striker Charlie Walker will be covering the game on Saturday afternoon. Tune in to 104.0 & 104.6 FM or DAB from 2.10pm for team news and pre-match interviews, followed by full match commentary via the BBC Surrey website and BBC Sport app from 2.50pm.
You can also contact us throughout the afternoon via Twitter. Tweet your predictions and thoughts on the game to @gavindenison and @bbcsurreysport