Boreham Wood v Aldershot Town – Match Preview – Saturday 19 August 2017
Saturday will see the two top scoring teams in the National League come head-to-head as Aldershot Town (12 goals) make the relatively short journey to Hertfordshire to take on Borehamwood (11 goals). Following Tuesday evening’s 1-1 draw with Maidstone, The Shots go to Wood as league leaders with their opponents five places and three points back.
Rob Worrall previews the action…
Will Evans will definitely miss out (broken toe) and Bernard Mensah (hamstring) is unlikely to be risked until fully fit again. Captain Callum Reynolds picked up a nasty knock to the cheekbone late on against Maidstone United but should be fit to face the team he skippered to promotion three seasons back. Otherwise, Aldershot Town manager Gary Waddock should have a fully fit playing squad to choose from.
Opposition – Borehamwood FC:
Nickname: The Wood
Ground: Meadow Park
Manager: Luke Garrard
Promoted via the play-offs from National League South in 2014-15, The Wood’s first season had been all about avoiding relegation – which they did in dramatic style by winning their final three games to stay two points above the drop zone. That allowed them to build further during the summer of 2016 and the work they did paid dividends with a top-half finish last term. The Wood finished in 11th place.
Luke Garrard became the youngest manager in any of England’s top five divisions when he was appointed as the boss of Boreham Wood aged just 30 in October 2015. A former Wood defender, Garrard started out as a trainee with Spurs before moving on to Swindon Town where he spent three years between 2002 and 2005. He spent time on the books of Bishop’s Stortford and Boreham Wood upon leaving The County Ground and then moved on to AFC Wimbledon in 2006 for a four-year stint and over 100 appearances. He initially returned to Boreham Wood on loan in 2009-10 before making the reunion permanent that summer and he made well over 100 appearances before succeeding Ian Allinson in the Meadow Park hot seat.
Garrard released seven of his playing squad from last season, including winger Jai Reason who joined Maidstone United. He lost three players to other clubs, in experienced midfielder Kenny Davis, who joined Sutton United, whilst Dagenham & Redbridge came in for right-back Ben Nunn and striker Morgan Ferrier.
He retained nine of his squad including goalkeeper Grant Smith and defenders Danny Woodards, Mark Ricketts (Captain) and David Stephens. He also kept hold of midfielders Ricky Shakes and Bruno Andrade, along with forward Angelo Balanta.
Garrard has strengthened his playing squad with some real quality in highly-rated young right-back Kane Smith from Hitchin Town, midfielders Tom Champion (Barnet) and Keiran Murtagh (Woking) and evergreen striker Paul Benson (Dagenham & Redbridge). He has brought in three players on season-long loans: left-back Ryan Johnson (Stevenage), centre-back Jamie Turley (Newport County) and striker Bradley Ash (Barnsley).
The Wood have begun the 2017-18 season well and currently sit in sixth place, with seven points from their opening four matches. A difficult opening day match away to newly-promoted AFC Fylde saw them come away with a creditable 2-2 draw, and this was followed by their only defeat to date, a 1-2 loss at home to Dagenham & Redbridge. Then followed a 4-1 victory at home to Solihull Moors and the 4-2 win at Plainmoor on Tuesday evening that led to the unfortunate sacking of Torquay United Manager Kevin Nicholson. Andrade leads the way to date, having scored three of Wood’s eleven goals so far.
Saturday afternoon sees the seventeenth meeting between the two sides, with Aldershot Town winning eleven, losing three and drawing twice. Last season, the two teams played out a 1-1 draw at Meadow Park, with Morgan Ferrier and Matt McClure scoring in a three-minute window during the second half. At the EBB Stadium in December, The Shots ran out 2-0 victors, with Scott Rendell and Idris Kanu on the scoresheet.
Their first meeting at National League level had taken place in October 2015 at Meadow Park, with Charlie Walker netting in the 10th minute of a 1-0 win. However, Boreham Wood got a modicum of revenge in April with a 2-1 win at the EBB Stadium. Ricky Shakes gave the visitors an early lead, with Jake Gallagher equalising two minutes later. Chris Barker was wrongly sent off for an alleged deliberate handball in the 76th minute, with Conor Clifford stepping up to dispatch the winner from the penalty spot. Arguably the most famous fixture between these clubs was the 1999 Isthmian League Cup Final, which Aldershot Town won 2-1 after extra time, thanks to a Gary Abbott brace.
Aldershot Town’s home record against Boreham Wood is very impressive, with six wins and just the two defeats in eight games, keeping five clean sheets and conceding just five goals. As well as a 1-0 home victory in the 2002-03 Ryman League Premier Division season (Nick Roddis getting the only goal of the game), The Shots recorded a thumping 6-0 win in November 1998, with Roy Young and Gary Abbott both netting hat-tricks in a Ryman League Premier Division fixture. Former Head Groundsman Andy Nunn scored in a 3-1 win for the hosts in April 1995, whilst the first triumph for the visitors in North-East Hampshire came in November 2001 with a 2-0 win, also in the Ryman League Premier Division.
Saturday’s referee is Simon Barrow who has taken the middle in just the one National League match so far this season, showing 2 yellow cards and no red card to date. Last season he refereed 16 National League games, showing 45 yellows and three reds. He did not referee Aldershot Town at all last season, but did referee at Meadow Park three times, all of which ended in 0-1 defeats for The Wood. He also refereed them as they won 2-0 at Chester in April.
BBC Surrey’s Rob Worrall and a special guest summariser will be covering the game live on Saturday afternoon. Tune in to the BBC Sport website (or the BBC Sport App) from 2.45pm for full match commentary. You can also contact us throughout the afternoon via Twitter, @RobShot66. You can also follow @OfficialShots for full text commentary.