Aldershot Town v Hartlepool United Match Preview – Saturday 13th April 2019
Following last weekend’s 2-2 draw at Bromley, Aldershot Town go into Saturday’s home match against Hartlepool United, knowing that anything other than three points will see relegation from the National League confirmed. BBC Surrey Sport’s Rob Worrall previews the game…
In stark contrast to the majority of the season, Shots boss Gary Waddock should have the vast majority of his playing squad available for Town’s penultimate home game of the season. The likes of Lewis Kinsella, Nick Arnold and Shamir Fenelon have all been back in training and are pushing for inclusion in the match day squad. James Rowe made his long-awaited return from injury at Hayes Lane, coming off the bench in the second half. George Fowler remains the only long term absentee, Regan Booty should be available after missing the Bromley match through illness although George Elokobi is doubtful after picking up a knock against AFC Fylde.
Name: Hartlepool United
Manager: Craig Hignett
Stadium: Victoria Park
2017/18 National League position: 15th
2018/19 Current position: 16th
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 last season, but new ownership has now steadied the ship.
49-year-old Craig Hignett took charge of the ‘Pools for the third time in late 2018, having previously been Director of Football at the club. He replaced Richard Money, who barely lasted a couple of weeks in charge, following the departure of Matthew Bates. Hignett, a forward in his playing days, scored 125 goals in 465 matches for 13 clubs, including Crewe Alexandra, Middlesbrough & Barnsley.
Bates let five players go in the summer, including left back Blair Adams, who scored from long distance against Shots at The EBB Stadium last season. He also lost defender Liam Donnelly, to Motherwell and striker Devante Rodney to Salford City (now on loan at FC Halifax Town). Twelve players stayed including; highly regarded goalkeeper Scott Loach, club captain Carl Magnay, plus midfielders Michael Woods (top scorer last season with 11 goals, now at Harrogate) and Nicky Featherstone. Bates added ten players to his ranks – most notably, former Forest Green Rovers midfielder Liam Noble who is the club’s top scorer this season, with thirteen goals to date. They also paid an undisclosed fee for young striker Niko Muir, who scored an impressive 40 goals for Hendon last season (five goals to date).
Other new arrivals this season include; full backs Peter Kioso (Dunstable) and Mark Kitching (Rochdale) plus Gateshead midfielder Paddy McLaughlin. Midfielder Josh Hawkes, loaned out to Dunston in November, has been a revelation since his return and now has nine goals for the season. Former Aldershot loanee Nicke Kabamba, moved north from Havant in January and has settled quickly, scoring six goals. Hignett has brought in defenders Danny Amos (Doncaster Rovers) and Michael Raynes (Crewe) on loan, plus defender David Edgar and midfielder Gavan Holohan on short term deals.
Saturday’s referee is Christopher Pollard and this will be his 15th National League game of the season. So far he has shown 53 Yellow cards and 0 Red cards. It will be his third visit to the EBB Stadium this season and the fourth time he has taken charge of a Shots match (W1, D1, L1).
BBC Surrey Sport’s Rob Worrall and Gavin Denison 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, tweet @RobShot66 and/or @GavinDenison.
Saturday’s Match Sponsor will be the Army FA.