Shots v York City match preview – 28 January 2017
Aldershot Town stretched their unbeaten run to four games with last weekend’s 1-1 draw at Gateshead. The Shots return to the EBB Stadium this coming Saturday as the National League-s 7th-placed side welcome relegation-threatened York City to North East Hampshire. BBC Surrey’s Gavin Denison previews the action.
A draw was probably a fair result in the North East, with the Shots having the better of the opening period. Shamir Fenelon missed a glorious chance, steering Idris Kanu’s cross wide from seven yards before Jordan Burrow headed in a left-wing cross for the hosts in the 35th minute. However, the lead lasted just six minutes as Scott Rendell fired in Jake Gallagher’s inch-perfect pass. Dan Hanford then saved well from Bernard Mensah and Fenelon just before the break. In the second half, Jake Cole saved from James Bolton, Wes York ballooned a shot over from close range, whilst Anthony Straker headed off the line from Bolton, with Cole saving the follow-up from Nyal Bell. At the other end, Rendell had an effort saved by Hanford in the 81st minute, then fluffed an attempted lob when clean through five minutes later.
Aldershot Town will be confident going into this weekend’s fixture. They’ve won their last three home league games (against Boreham Wood, Woking and Southport), conceding just one goal in the process. Their overall league record at the EBB Stadium of 31 points from fourteen outings is the second-best in the division, behind just Tranmere Rovers on a points-per-game basis. The game against Gateshead was also notable for Aldershot Town picking up their fourth draw from a losing position on their travels in 2016-17. That points total from losing positions matches that from their away games during the whole of last season where they won at Braintree Town in August, then drew at Eastleigh four months later.
York City were initially formed in 1908, before being liquidated in 1917 and reformed five years later. An 82-year unbroken spell in the Football League was ended by relegation in 2004, which started an eight-year stint in the non-league top flight. That ended with a Play-Off Final win over Luton Town, whilst they also won the FA Trophy that season, under Gary Mills. Their second season back in the Football League saw the Minstermen finish 7th, before losing in the 2013-14 League Two Play-Off semi-finals to Fleetwood Town. The following season saw an 18th-place finish before a disastrous 2015-16 campaign saw the North Yorkshire side finish bottom of the table with just seven league wins and 34 points.
They’ve suffered an equally rotten campaign on their return to the National League, sitting bottom of the table with 25 points from 29 games. Former manager Jackie McNamara was sacked in October (although he was moved to a Chief Executive role at the club), with Mills replacing him. His record of two wins from fourteen league games hardly looks impressive, but both of those victories have come in their last four fixtures. In fact, the Boxing Day win at North Ferriby United was their first in eighteen league games. York City have the second worst goalscoring record (27 goals) and the third worst away record (seven points from fourteen games away from Bootham Crescent, just one clean sheet) in the National League.
Mills, who was sacked by Wrexham three days before re-joining York City on 16 October, was dismissive of the squad he inherited. He told the York Press before last weekend’s 2-1 home win against Barrow: “We had thirty (players) when I first came here and that was a frightening amount, but we’ve got better quality, spirit and togetherness now… If I had this group ten weeks ago, I honestly believe we would be sitting on a lot more points now… in the last 12 weeks at this football club, I’ve worked harder to try and turn around the mental mindset than I have anywhere else and that’s not easy halfway through a season. I’ve got York City in my heart and my body and I want to make sure every player here feels the same.”
Gary Waddock named an unchanged line-up for the fourth game in a row at Gateshead. The Shots looked most impressive down the right-hand side, where Cheye Alexander and Idris Kanu attacked well in the first half and defended solidly in the second as the hosts ramped up the pressure. Scott Rendell continued his good goalscoring form, with his eleventh of the campaign and his fifth in his last four appearances, whilst loanees Dion Conroy and Kundai Benyu were impressive once again at centre back and central midfield respectively. With the current run of form of his side, it would be surprising if Waddock made any changes this weekend. However, Jonny Giles could be an option in one of the two wide roles after a pair of lively substitute showings since joining on loan from Oxford United.
The Shots boss will be forced into a change this week with Conroy having returned to Chelsea, and then subsequently sold to League One outfit Swindon Town. As a result, recently-signed Bournemouth loanee defender Callum Buckley could come into the squad for the first time. Waddock was without just two players for the draw at Gateshead. The latest report is that there’s no timetable for the returns of central midfielder Liam Bellamy, who has missed almost three months with a knee injury, and Nick Arnold, who’s been out of action since late November with an ankle problem.
Jackie McNamara was undoubtedly the busiest National League manager last summer, signing 22 players following York City’s relegation, whilst seeing the overwhelming majority of last season’s players departing the club. Midfielders James Berrett (five goals) and Luke Summerfield (eight goals) joined Grimsby Town, whilst Russell Penn moved to fellow League Two side Carlisle United. Fellow midfielders Kenny McEvoy and Josh Carson also left the club. Former Shots defender Dave Winfield joined National League South outfit Ebbsfleet United, whilst fellow defenders Femi Ilesanmi (Boreham Wood) and Taron Hare (North Ferriby United) also departed. Strikers Michael Coulson (seven goals, Scottish Premiership side St Johnstone), ex-Shots trialist Jake Hyde (Stevenage) and Emile Sinclair (Altrincham, then Bradford Park Avenue) all moved on from Bootham Crescent. Long serving goalkeeper Michael Ingham joined Northern Premier League Division One North side Tadcaster Albion after eight years at the club, whilst last season’s first choice goalkeeper Scott Flinders left the Minstermen earlier this month. That means only striker Vadaine Oliver (ten goals in the relegation campaign), plus midfielders Danny Galbraith, Matt Dixon and Callum Rzonca remain at the club from those who played for York City last season.
The wholesale changes occurred throughout the side, starting with a pair of new goalkeepers in Kyle Letheren (Blackpool) and Luke Simpson (Watford). In the defensive ranks, Lanre Oyebanjo (Crawley Town) has returned to North Yorkshire, whilst Shaun Rooney (Dunfermline Athletic), Matt Fry (Braintree Town), Alex Whittle and Ben Barber (Chester) also joining the club. The midfield ranks have been improved by Simon Heslop (Wrexham), Clovis Kamdjo (Forest Green Rovers) and Aidan Connolly (Raith Rovers), but forwards Yan Klukowski (Newport County), Scott Fenwick (Hartlepool United) and loanee Justin Johnson (Dundee United) have struggled to make an impression. However, a number of McNamara’s signing have either left permanently or gone out on loan. The former Aldershot Town striker Richard Brodie (still York City’s top scorer with seven goals) is in the former camp, joining National League North side Boston United after his release earlier this month. Mills has brought in ten new players since his arrival – strikers Jon Parkin (Newport County), Amari Morgan-Smith (Cheltenham Town, rest of season loan) and Johan Ter Horst (Hull City, rest of season loan); midfielders Simon Lappin (St Johnstone), Adriano Moke (Boreham Wood) and Luke Woodland (Oldham Athletic), plus defenders Danny Parslow (Cheltenham Town, rest of season loan), Sean Newton (Wrexham), Danny Holmes (AFC Fylde) and Hamza Bencherif (Wrexham, rest of season loan).
Rooney (ankle) and Holmes (groin) both picked up knocks in last weekend’s win against Barrow, with the former definitely unable to face the Shots on Saturday. Clovis Kamdjo and Matt Fry will also be missing after suffering serious knee ligament injuries this season, whilst Oyebanjo and Connolly have been missing in recent weeks with hamstring problems and may not make the trip to North-east Hampshire.
The Shots and York City have faced each other on eleven previous occasions, with the first eight taking place in the what is now the National League. Back on 1 October, a Bernard Mensah goal earned the visitors all three points in a scrappy game in North Yorkshire. The previous two meetings were in Aldershot Town’s 2012-13 League Two relegation season. The game finished goalless at Bootham Crescent in January 2013, whilst the Yorkshire side secured a comfortable 2-0 win at the EBB Stadium in September 2012, thanks to second-half goals from Matty Blair and Jason Walker. Of the eleven prior fixtures, the Shots have won five, lost five and drawn one, with three of those victories coming in the first three meetings.
Aldershot Town have won three and lost two of their five home fixtures against the Minstermen, including a 2-0 win in their Conference promotion campaign, thanks to goals from Scott Davies and Rob Elvins. They also managed a victory by the same score in August 2004, whilst Darren Barnard notched a late winner thirteen months later in a game that finished 2-1 to the Shots. In addition to their win here in Aldershot Town’s relegation season, York City also won here by the same scoreline in March 2007. They also made 22 visits to what is now the EBB Stadium to take on Aldershot FC, winning six, drawing eight and losing eight of those fixtures.
Saturday sees the 47th anniversary of the Recreation Ground record crowd of 19138 that attended the FA Cup fourth round replay between Aldershot FC and Carlisle United. The Cumbrians won 4-1.
Saturday afternoon’s referee is Carl Brook from Sussex, who took charge of the Shots’ 3-1 home win against Tranmere Rovers in September. So far this season, he’s officiated in twelve National League fixtures, showing 44 yellow cards and one red card.
BBC Surrey’s Gavin Denison and Rob Worrall of the Aldershot Town media team 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