Aldershot Town dropped to 14th in the embryonic National League table after their 4-1 defeat at Grimsby Town on Saturday. In amongst September’s multitude of lengthy away trips, the Shots have a home game against Welling United this Tuesday, looking to make it consecutive wins at the EBB Stadium. BBC Surrey’s Gavin Denison previews the action.
Despite it being the second large away defeat of the season, Barry Smith’s charges put in a much better performance than they did at Wrexham last month. The visitors even took a 1-0 lead into half-time thanks to Charlie Walker’s fourth goal in four games. However, Grimsby Town, who’d shaded the opening period, produced a clinical second-half performance to run out comfortable winners in the end. The opening goal came from a contentious 53rd-minute penalty decision – Richard Brodie fouled Aristote Nsiala at a set-piece, but Luke Oliver was similarly tugged at the same time – and the second came from a slip on the edge of the box from Dan Walker. However, substitute goalkeeper Dan Thomas (who replaced Phil Smith) had to make some good saves, including a fine penalty save from Omar Bogle.
There were another two late goals, which continues a worrying trend for Barry Smith’s side so far this season. Of the fifteen goals they’ve given up so far in 2015-16 (only Barrow, Torquay United, Kidderminster Harriers and FC Halifax Town have conceded more), seven of them have come in the final fifteen minutes of games. It’s also the case that only Guiseley have conceded more home goals than the Shots’ seven in this campaign. The breakdown of Aldershot Town’s opponents this season is interesting; they’ve picked up just one point from five games against sides currently in the top seven. In contrast, they’ve garnered ten points from four games against teams outside that bracket.
Welling United celebrated their 50th anniversary by winning the 2012-13 Conference South title, a triumph that returned the club to the level it had last graced in 1999-2000, when the Wings were relegated after fourteen consecutive seasons in the non-league top-flight. Following that relegation, they spent four campaigns in the Southern League Premier Division, before becoming founder members of the Conference South, where they stayed for nine seasons. The Wings finished sixteenth in their first season back in the Conference, but only survived last year on goal difference. A 1-0 home defeat to Southport on the final day was irrelevant as relegation rivals Alfreton Town were demolished 7-0 by Bristol Rovers.
After an opening day 1-0 home win against Guiseley, the South-East London side have failed to win any of their following eight games. They sit 21st in the standings after two 1-1 draws against Tranmere Rovers and Torquay United in their last two fixtures. Their stuttering start to the campaign comes down to a lack of goals, with only Southport having scored less than Welling United’ seven goals in the National League so far in 2015-16. They away form has been abysmal so far, with four defeats from four away from Park View Road, scoring just one goal in the process. In fact, they haven’t won away since they secured a 2-0 win at Lincoln City on 14 March.
The Wings have been in the news this week after striker Sahr Kabba became the first person to be fined and suspended by the FA for “exaggerating or feigning an injury which led to an opponent being dismissed” after an incident against Tranmere Rovers earlier this month. The club unsuccessfully appealed the decision, with manager Loui Fazakerly telling BBC Radio Kent: “Reviewing the video footage, there definitely is contact between the defender and Kabba… I think because it is a new rule, they want a chance to implement it and show they are serious about it,” he said. Players feigning injury is very unsportsmanlike. I think the FA are doing the right thing about trying to clamp down on it.”
After the win against FC Halifax Town, Barry Smith, unsurprisingly, named an unchanged starting line-up for the trip to North-East Lincolnshire. However, he was able to add Sam Hatton amongst his substitutes after the club’s vice-captain missed three games due to complications from the knock to his kidneys on the opening day against Gateshead. Rhys Browne was left out of the squad after an arduous trip back from the World Cup duty in the Caribbean, but he should feature in some capacity against Welling United. Charlie Walker, who has three goals in his last games at the EBB Stadium, will look to continue that good form on Tuesday.
The Shots manager will be without goalkeeper Phil Smith, who damaged his groin in the first half at Grimsby and will be out for a couple of weeks. That means Dan Thomas will finally make his home debut thirteen months after joining the club. Defenders Joe Oastler and Sean McGinty are also long-term absentees. The former’s recovery from an ankle operation will keep him out until mid-October, whilst McGinty should return in early-October after suffering a broken metatarsal in the pre-season game at Basingstoke Town.
Loui Fazakerley, who took over as Welling United manager on 3 March after the sacking of Jody Brown, has had to re-build his playing squad over the summer, with a number of key players from last season’s squad moving onto pastures new. Jake Gallagher, of course, made to switch to the EBB Stadium after 38 games, four goals and three red cards for the Wings last season, but fellow midfielders Joe Healy (Maidstone United), Malachi Hudson (Kingstonian) and Dominic Vose (Wrexham, five goals in 2014-15) also moved on. Like Vose, defender Jamal Fyfield also joined the North Wales side, whilst fellow centre-back Chris Bush is now with Lincoln City. First-choice goalkeeper, and former Shots loanee, Jon Henly returned to Reading after the completion of his loan spell, whilst their two top goalscorers from last season actually left Park View Road during the first half of the previous campaign. Eleven-goal Harry Beautyman moved to Peterborough United last November, while Tyrone Marsh (nine goals) went back to Oxford United at the end of December. Amongst those who have remained are defenders Zac Fagan, Ben Jefford and Barney Williams, plus attacking midfielders Kieron St Aimie, Reece Harris and Sam Corne.
Amongst the players who’ve arrived in South-East London are defenders Michael Chambers (signed permanently from Crystal Palace after a successful loan spell last season), Harry Osborne (Charlton Athletic) and Kevin Lokko (Colchester United), whilst goalkeeper Tom King is on loan from Millwall until January. Defensive midfielder Xavier Vidal arrived from Ryman League Premier Division side Dulwich Hamlet and has two goals already, whilst Ricky Wellard (Sutton United) and Harry Lee (month-long loan from Leyton Orient) have also been added to the midfield ranks. The main signings in the attacking third are Sahr Kabba (Gloucester City, thirteen goals for Havant & Waterlooville in 2013-14) and former Maidstone United forward George Porter.
Kabba will definitely be unavailable for selection on Tuesday night as he serves the second game of his three-match ban, whilst Kieron St Aimie is also unlikely to feature after injuring his knee in preseason.
Tuesday evening sees just the fifth meeting between Aldershot Town and Welling United, with the four previous games all being won by the home side. The most recent game was a massive one in the context of Aldershot Town’s season, with Ryan Jarvis’ stoppage time penalty giving the Shots a 2-1 Valentine’s Day win that ended a run of nine defeats in ten league games. Last season’s other fixture took place on 20 December, with the Wings winning 3-1. Tyrone Marsh and Kieron St Aimie netted for the hosts, before Glenn Wilson scored his first goal for Aldershot Town with 25 minutes left. Marsh then notched his second of the game to secure all three points.
The previous season’s game at Park View Road saw Alex Dyer’s fifteenth-minute goal being the difference between the two sides, but the Shots got a measure of retribution at the Electrical Services Stadium three-and-a-months later. On 28 December, Welling United took the lead five minutes into the second half, but had defender Blaine Hudson sent off in the 66th minute. The hosts took full advantage, scoring three unanswered goals through Brett Williams and a brace from Millwall loanee Aidan O’Brien.
If he plays on Tuesday, Sam Hatton will make his 50th appearance for the Shots.
Tuesday evening’s referee is Alan Young from Cambridgeshire, who’s in his first season on the National Referee’s List. So far this season, he’s overseen three National League games, showing nine yellow cards and no red cards.
BBC Surrey’s Gavin Denison and Rob Worrall of the Aldershot Town media team will be covering the game on Tuesday evening. Tune in to the BBC Sport website from 7.35pm for full match commentary.
You can also contact us throughout the evening via Twitter. Tweet your predictions and thoughts on the game to @bbcsurreysport and @GavinDenison