Tuesday evening’s 1-0 win at Boreham Wood was Aldershot Town’s third victory in four games, and one that lifted them to 12th in the table, just three points outside the play-off places. A tough task awaits them this weekend, however, with high-flying Bromley visiting the EBB Stadium. BBC Surrey’s Gavin Denison previews the action.
The Shots’ performance in Hertfordshire wasn’t one of their best of the campaign, but it was certainly one of their most resilient. The home side had the better of the chances and the possession, but it was Charlie Walker’s tenth-minute goal, after Damon Lathrope’s free kick was headed down by Omar Beckles and bundled off the post by Richard Brodie, that won Barry Smith’s side all three points. Phil Smith certainly played his part, making two excellent second half stops from Ricky Shakes and Conor Clifford. The Aldershot Town defence wobbled in front of him, but wasn’t breached and, in fact, Jim Stevenson came closest to a second half goal. His 88th-minute drive was well saved by home stopper James Russell.
As well as the three wins in four games, the Shots have also managed three clean sheets in that sequence, giving them six for the season so far. However, they’ve also had five games where they’ve conceded three or more goals, so they’ll be striving for some consistency in that department for the rest of the campaign. Aldershot Town’s home form has also improved of late, but is also marred by that inconsistency. Recent EBB Stadium wins over FC Halifax Town, Welling United and Altrincham (last Saturday) have been counteracted with successive 3-0 defeats against Macclesfield Town and Forest Green Rovers. Their tally of fourteen goals in their last thirteen home games also needs improvement.
Bromley Football Club was founded in 1892, switching between the Kent, London, Spartan, Athenian and Isthmian League before settling in the latter in 1952. They’ve won three FA Amateur Cups and were Isthmian League winners on four occasions, whilst their promotion via the Play-Offs in 2007 started a run of eight seasons in Conference South. On six consecutive occasions they ended the season between 11th and 17th before a third-place finish in 2013-14 (losing to Ebbsfleet United in the Play-Off semi-final) and the Conference South title last season. They finished two points clear of Boreham Wood to secure their first appearance in the non-league top flight.
They’ve continued that form this season and currently sit 5th in the National League standings after winning eight of their last ten games. However, only one of those victories came against a side currently in the top ten (Gateshead). Of the Kent side’s 100 goals last season, 79 of them came in the league, which was the joint best record in the division, whilst their 37 goals leads the way this season. Their total of 42 points from 20 away games led the way in Conference South in 2014-15 and they’ve won three of their last four on the road in this campaign, including a 7-3 win at Torquay United. However, they’ve conceded twenty goals in eight away games, a record only ‘bettered’ by FC Halifax Town.
The former Crystal Palace owner Mark Goldberg has been the Ravens’ manager since June 2011 (his third spell in charge) and he took the positives from Tuesday’s 2-1 home defeat to Cheltenham Town. He told the News Shopper: “They had one or two chances of their own but I think we were in control in the first half. Obviously second half it was important that we continued the same momentum but I thought we sat back a little bit. I’ve got to be honest, we tired. I think for the first time, the recent injury crisis has caught up with us. I looked to see what we had on the bench. We really could have done with a little bit more impetus in the middle of the park. We’ve got some very big players that aren’t yet available to us.”
Barry Smith named an unchanged line-up for the game at Boreham Wood in midweek, which meant no place in the starting eleven for the available-again midfielders Sam Hatton and Jake Gallagher. The former missed the Altrincham game through illness, whilst the latter had completed his three-game suspension. Both came on as second half substitutes and will hope they’ve done enough to earn a recall to the first eleven. Charlie Walker continued his good form, with the goal against one of his former sides meaning he now has eight goals in his last twelve games. This is in stark contrast to the run of his striker partner Richard Brodie, who has gone seven games without a goal.
Sean McGinty, who suffered a broken metatarsal in the pre-season game at Basingstoke Town, is aiming for a return to the squad for this weekend’s game, but fellow defender Joe Oastler’s long-term recovery from an ankle operation will keep him out until November.
Mark Goldberg was able to keep the majority of his title-winning squad intact over the summer, whilst also adding a number of players with Football League experience. The seven permanent signings included former Newport County midfielders Lee Minshull and Max Porter, strikers Alex Wall (Luton Town, six goals on loan at Dartford in 2013-14) and Bradley Goldberg (seven goals in the previous campaign whilst on loan from Dagenham & Redbridge), plus centre-back Ben Chorley from Portsmouth. They also snapped up defenders Sean Francis from Dover Athletic and Aaron Tumwa from Farnborough, whilst goalkeeper Chris Kettings has started the Ravens’ last seven games since signing on loan from Crystal Palace.
Amongst the players who remained at Hayes Lane following the end of the previous campaign include the National League’s current top scorer, Moses Emmanuel. Previously known as Moses Ademola, the former Woking forward, who was Bromley’s top scorer with seventeen goals last season, already has thirteen to his name in this campaign. Fellow strikers Pierre Joseph-Dubois and Louis Dennis, who both scored nine goals last season, are also still at the club, as is Anthony Cook, who made the 2014-15 Conference South Team of the Year after scoring twelve goals for Ebbsfleet United and Bromley. Midfielders Jack Holland, Reece Prestedge and Ali Fuseini are also onboard for the club’s first season at this level, as are experienced goalkeeper Alan Julian, plus defenders Rob Swaine (who was also in the 2014-15 Conference South Team of the Year), Joe Anderson and Emmanuel Udoji. Amongst the players that did leave the club over the summer were former Aldershot Town striker Jamie Slabber (Hemel Hempstead Town, twelve goals last season), midfielder Danny Waldren (ten goals, Dulwich Hamlet) and goalkeeper Seb Brown (Hampton & Richmond Borough).
The Bromley boss does have injury problems though, with five players missing from Tuesday night’s game. Minshull injured his achilles in the second game of the season at Woking, Alex Wall is out with an ankle problem, Louis Dennis missed the game through illness, whilst Ben May and Max Porter were also out injured. Swaine and Joseph-Dubois must also be doubts for the trip to North-East Hampshire after going off on Tuesday with hamstring and ankle ligament injuries respectively.
Saturday afternoon sees the ninth meeting between these two sides with the Shots winning five, losing two and drawing just once. Six of those games have been in cup competitions with the only two previous league meetings happening in the 1998-99 campaign. In September, Aldershot Town picked up a 1-1 draw in Kent thanks to a Gary Abbott goal, whilst the legendary Shots striker also scored in the 3-0 home win three months later. The most recent game took place just under ten years ago, with Tim Sills scoring the only goal of the game for the Shots in an FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round tie on 22 October 2005.
Overall, Aldershot Town have won four and lost one of their five home games against Bromley, scoring eleven goals in the process. As well as the League and FA Cup victories, the Shots also won 3-1 in the FA Trophy in November 1998 and the Isthmian League Full Members’ Cup in October 1995. The Ravens only win came in the second leg of the Isthmian League Cup Semi-Final in April 1999. However, the Shots won 4-3 on aggregate before beating Boreham Wood to win the trophy.
Saturday afternoon’s referee is Adam Hopkins from Plymouth, who took charge Aldershot Town’s 2-1 home defeat against Gateshead on the opening day of the season. He also oversaw three Aldershot Town home games in the previous campaign – the 1-0 win over Lincoln City last September, the 2-0 defeat to Eastleigh in November and the 1-1 draw with FC Halifax Town in March. This season he’s officiated in five National League fixtures, showing thirteen yellow cards and two red cards.
BBC Surrey’s Gavin Denison and Aldershot Town defender Joe Oastler will be covering the game on Saturday afternoon. Tune in to 104.0 & 104.6 FM 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 @bbcsurreysport and @GavinDenison