Aldershot Town carried their excellent form from the draw at Portsmouth into their midweek league fixture, comfortably defeating Kidderminster Harriers. The victory lifts the Shots to 13th in the Conference table, with struggling Nuneaton Town visiting the Electrical Services Stadium this weekend. BBC Surrey’s Gavin Denison previews the action.
Wednesday’s evening trip to Aggborough could have been a case of ‘after the Lord Mayor’s Show’ for Andy Scott and his team, especially after their coach got stuck in traffic. However, they produced a textbook away performance to pick up all three points at a side that had only lost once at home in the league in 2014-15. A dour first half display by both sides was erased two minutes into the second half, when a foul on Andre McCollin produced an Aldershot Town penalty and a red card for the hosts. Brett Williams tucked away his 8th goal of the campaign, whilst Mark Molesley’s second goal in consecutive matches doubled the visitor’s advantage. Harriers only looked dangerous from set-pieces, but the Shots defence held firm for their fifth clean sheet of the season, and second on the road.
The Shots have now won two, lost one and drawn three of their last six games in all competitions, performing strongly in the games since the 1-0 loss at Chester last month and scoring ten goals in the process. Wednesday’s win was Aldershot Town’s first away win in nine outings, and they’ll now attempt to return to winning ways at home. Last time out, they lost 2-1 against Gateshead, a defeat that ended a run of three wins and a draw from their four previous games in North-East Hampshire. Overall, their record of fourteen points from nine home games is the fifteenth-best in the division, with Andy Scott’s men already having faced five of the current top eight at the Electrical Services Stadium.
Football has been played in Nuneaton since 1889, with the current team being the third footballing incarnation, with previous clubs having disbanded in 1937 and been liquidated in 2008. The latter saw Nuneaton Borough suffer a two-division demotion from Conference North and restart as Nuneaton Town in the Southern League Division 1 Midlands. Successive promotions through the play-offs in 2008-09 and 2009-10 preceded a Conference North play-off final win in 2011 against Gainsborough Trinity. Boro’s first season in a national league, saw a fifteenth-placed finish, but they improved on that last season to finish 13th, eleven points from the play-off places.
Nuneaton Town’s start to this campaign has been hugely disappointing, however, as they currently sit 23rd in the table. Four points from their opening seven games saw former boss Brian Reid being sacked, with the ex-Ebbsfleet United manager Liam Daish replacing him. Fortunes haven’t improved, however, and they’re currently on a five-game winless streak, which includes an FA Cup exit to Conference South side Hemel Hempstead Town. Boro are the lowest scorers in the Conference with fourteen goals in eighteen games, whilst their records of one point and three goals on their travels are comfortably the worst in the division.
The Warwickshire side haven’t played since 1 November, when they drew 1-1 against Macclesfield Town, with Daish, who took charge on 22 September, admitting the break could work well for his team. He told the Nuneaton News: “I have not had much time to work with the lads in training or anything like that yet. This was a good chance to do that. I had them in early on Saturday and we worked on a few things. I have got another couple of sessions to do that this week as well. That is the longest I have had to train them since I got here. We have had a lot of Tuesday matches so far so that has really affected what I can and cannot do with them.”
Andy Scott made four changes for the trip to Worcestershire, three of which were enforced. Sam Hatton, Manny Oyeleke, Kieron Forbes and Andre McCollin all returned to the starting line-up in place of injured trio Jaydon Gibbs, Mark Phillips and Jordan Roberts, whilst Tom Derry dropped to the bench. All four played their part in the Aldershot Town victory, with Hatton featuring at right back for the first time in a Shots shirt. The change to a 4-3-3 formation certainly paid dividends at Aggborough, with the midfield triumvirate of Oyeleke, Forbes and Molesley all producing fine performances to overpower their Harriers counterparts.
The absence of Gibbs and Roberts (both hamstring injuries) were described as ‘precautionary measures’, so hopefully one or both of them will feature this weekend. Mark Phillips injured a quadriceps muscle at Portsmouth and must also be a doubt for this weekend’s fixture as well as the FA Cup replay. Damon Lathrope (groin) and Anthony Tonkin (calf) are long-term injury doubts, whilst Josh Scott has missed the last two games with a foot problem. Sam Hatton limped off on Wednesday with a similar injury, so we could see a full Aldershot Town debut for Naby Diallo at right back.
Before his departure, Brian Reid had made plenty of changes to his squad over the summer, with twelve permanent signings arriving at Liberty Way and eleven moving onto pastures new. The most high-profile players to depart were last season’s top scorer Louis Moult (eighteen goals) and attacking midfielder Wes York, who both followed Reid’s predecessor Kevin Wilkin to Wrexham. Goalkeeper James Belshaw, defender Danny Sleath, plus strikers Dave Hibbert and Connor Taylor all moved to Tamworth, whilst striker Greg Pearson, midfielders Jon Adams and Phil Trainer plus defenders Emmitt Delfouneso and Simon Forsdick also departed the club. Liam Daish’s arrival has seen the release of a trio of summer signings – Leon McSweeney, Ben Hutchinson and Exodus Geohaghon – as well as Delroy Gordon.
In the attacking third of the pitch, Reid was able to bring in veteran forward Craig Curran, who’d spent the previous eighteen months at League of Ireland side Limerick, and former Corby Town winger Jorrin John. The midfield was strengthened by Jack Dyer (Burton Albion) Anton Brown (Harrogate Town), Ryan Quinn (Coventry City) and Lee Fowler (Welsh Premier League club Cefn Druids), whilst Ryan Smith (Coventry City), Connor Franklin (Alfreton Town) and former Shots loanee right back Ben Starosta were added to the defensive ranks. The first-choice goalkeeper has been Reice Charles-Cook, but he was recalled by Coventry City earlier this month, so fellow new arrival James Wren (Tamworth) should start in goal on Saturday. Four of Daish’s signings could feature this weekend – strikers Michael Gash (two-month loan from Kidderminster Harriers for whom he’s score three goals this season), Onome Sodje (Albanian side Partizani Tirana) and Cardiff City loanee Dane Griffiths plus former Aldershot Town captain Anthony Charles, who scored 15 goals in 229 appearances in three spells at the club between 2002 and 2011.
One who won’t play, though, is Leicester City loanee Adam Dawson who, like Charles-Cook, has been recalled by his parent club. Striker Andy Brown will definitely be out with both knee ligament damage and a broken jaw, whilst Sodje may also be unavailable because of a hamstring problem. Craig Curran limped off against Macclesfield Town, whilst Jack Dyer has also missed recent games through injury.
These two clubs have only met on three previous occasions, with the Shots not beating their Warwickshire opponents thus far. The game on 13 September saw a very disappointing performance by Andy Scott’s team, barely managing to scrape a point at Liberty Way. Andy Brown gave the home side a 19th-minute lead, with it taking until the 66th minute for Aldershot Town to equalise, thanks to Sam Hatton’s first goal for the club.
The corresponding fixture, on 28 January of this year, saw Nuneaton Town secure a deserved 2-0 half-time lead thanks to goals from Brown and Louis Moult. Aldershot Town only responding in the latter stages, with Tristan Plummer getting a goal back after 84 minutes, but the hosts held on for all three points. Six weeks later, the Shots and Boro met at the Electrical Services Stadium, with the visitors again taking a 2-0 half-time lead through Gavin Cowan and a James Armson penalty. However, goals from Josh Scott and Martin Rowlands gave the Shots a share of the spoils.
If they play on Saturday afternoon, Jaydon Gibbs and Chris Barker will make their 50th league appearances for Aldershot Town.
Saturday afternoon’s referee is David Rock from Hertfordshire, who is in his first season as a Conference referee. So far in this campaign, he has officiated in six Conference games, showing nineteen yellow cards and three red cards.
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 for team news just after 2pm, followed by pre-match interviews and full match commentary via the BBC Surrey radio frequencies and website at 2.55pm.
We also want your thoughts on how you think the Shots will do against Nuneaton Town. Let us know on the day via the following methods:
Text: 81333 (please start your text with the word ‘Radio’)
Plus, we want your reaction to the game between 5pm and 6pm on Saturday in ‘The Final Whistle’. Win, lose or draw, we want to hear from you throughout this season. Call us on 03459 57 00 57 and let your voice be heard.