After picking up 4 points from the 6 available at The EBB over the festive season, Aldershot Town take the road to Wales on Saturday, where they’ll play Wrexham at The Racecourse Ground. Both sides sit in the bottom seven of the National League table, but both will come into the game on the back of a win.
Rob Worrall previews the action:
George Fowler is making good progress as he attempts to come back from his long-term knee injury. Alex Finney is still troubled with a niggling injury and is unlikely to make the trip to Wales. Jacob Berkeley-Agyepong (Dartford) and Shamir Mullings (Dulwich Hamlet) continue their one-month loan spells.
After 87 years as a Football League side, Wrexham were relegated to the Conference Premier in 2008. The closest they have come to a return to date is when they finished fifth in 2012-13, before losing the Play-Off Final against Newport County. The North Wales club were also beaten by Luton Town at the Play-Off Semi-Final stage in the previous two campaigns, with the loss in 2011-12 coming after finishing runners-up to champions Fleetwood Town. Since then, they have struggled somewhat, albeit being early front runners in two of the last three seasons, only to fall away following management changes. Last season they reached the play-off eliminators, only to get knocked out by Eastleigh.
Dean Keates is a former professional footballer that made 601 appearances, scoring 69 goals as a midfielder for a host of clubs, including Walsall, Hull City, Peterborough and Wrexham amongst others. Released from Wrexham in 2015, he then returned to the club in October 2016, initially as Caretaker Manager after the departure of Gary Mills. It was his first managerial job in professional football, but soon led to an opportunity at a higher level, with one of his former clubs, Walsall. Keates now finds himself back at the Racecourse in an attempt to turn around Wrexham’s poor start this season.
The Dragons find themselves just outside the bottom four of the National League coming into today’s fixture, having picked up all three points at Chorley on New Year’s Day. Previous manager Bryan Hughes departed the club after The Dragons poor start to this campaign. They have picked up slightly since, with three victories under Keates in his current spell to date.
Hughes kept faith in 16 of last season’s play-off squad, which makes the club’s poor start to this campaign even harder to rationalise. That included the vast majority of what has been a mean defence for the club in recent seasons, led by skipper Shaun Pearson. Of the players retained, Bobby Grant has provided the best goals return, with 8 goals in all competitions to date. Undoubtedly, The Dragon’s most eye-catching signing in the summer was JJ Hooper, who was prolific on his long-term loan spell with Bromley last season, netting 22 goals. Unfortunately, Hooper picked up an early season injury which has limited his appearances to date. However, he is back now and scored again at Chorley taking him to five goals for the season. Omari Patrick has been Wrexham’s most potent supply of goals in the meantime, with six goals, including one at Chorley on New Year’s Day.
Saturday’s referee is Gareth Rhodes, who has taken charge of 9 National League matches so far this season, showing 28 yellow cards and 1 red card to date. He has not refereed Aldershot Town so far this season.
BBC Surrey Sport will be supplying live online commentary on Saturday afternoon. Tune in to the BBC Sport website (or the BBC Sport App) from 2:50pm for full match commentary with Rob Worrall (@RobShot66) and a Special Guest Summariser.