Saturday afternoon’s 2-0 win over Altrincham ended a run of three defeats in four and lifted the Shots to 14th in the National League table. Aldershot Town are on the road again on Tuesday night, making the short trip around the M25 to take on National League new boys Boreham Wood. BBC Surrey’s Gavin Denison previews the action.
Not for the first time this season, Barry Smith and his players bounced back from a disappointing defeat to record an impressive victory. After an unconvincing opening twenty minutes, the hosts hit their stride and thoroughly deserved the opening goal, with Dan Walker’s free kick being headed in by Jack Saville in the 33rd minute. It was the centre back’s first goal for the club, and his first since September 2012. The lead was doubled eighteen minutes into the second half when Rhys Browne latched onto a poor back-pass to fire in his second goal of the campaign. Charlie Walker hit the post late on with a curling effort, whilst the Shots defence largely kept the Altrincham attackers at arms length.
It was a welcome win for the Shots, with it being just their fourth in their last thirteen games at the EBB Stadium. However, three of those have come in their last five home games and the desire is obviously there to replicate their fine away form in front of the home fans. Aldershot Town currently have the sixth-best away record in the division, winning four of their last six on the road, scoring thirteen goals in the process. Defensively, it seems to be feast or famine for the Shots’ opponents in recent weeks, with their last eight games seeing Barry Smith’s team keep three clean sheets, but they’ve also conceded three or more goals on four occasions.
Boreham Wood was formed in 1948 by the amalgamation of two local sides, Boreham Rovers and Royal Retournez, winning promotion to the Isthmian League for the first time in 1974. In 2010, the Wood won promotion to Conference South via the Ryman League Premier Division Play-Offs. After four midtable finishes, they made the play-offs for the first time last season having finished second, two points behind champions Bromley. After a 4-2 aggregate semi-final win over Havant & Waterlooville, the Hertfordshire side beat Whitehawk 2-1 after extra-time, winning a promotion to the top-flight of non-league football for the first time in the club’s history.
The side struggled out of the gate in the National League, picking up just seven points from their first eleven games. However, eight points from the next five, including Saturday’s 2-0 home win over Welling United, have lifted them to 20th in the table. Two of the key elements to last season’s promotion was their goalscoring record and home form, both of which were the best in Conference South. However, their home form is the fifth-worst in the division (losing five of their eight fixtures at Meadow Park), whilst only five clubs have fewer goals this season than Boreham Wood’s total of seventeen goals.
However, the club was rocked on Monday by the resignation of manager Ian Allinson, who’d been in charge since 2008. Chairman Danny Hunter told the club’s official website: “In truth I was at first stunned by Ian’s resignation as it genuinely wasn’t something that I saw coming. The transition from evening to daytime training, though difficult, had seemed to go as well as could be expected. The players and management team, including Ian, were in the main all very much in favour of the change. However, in hindsight, and hindsight is a funny thing, Ian felt with the new training programme that he was not in control and simply felt he was on the outside looking in. It’s no secret that Ian and I have had a close working relationship but that’s only to be expected after spending so many years together.”
Barry Smith made three changes to his starting eleven on Saturday afternoon, all of whom had impacts on the Shots’ 2-0 win. Richard Brodie replaced Matthew Barnes-Homer upfront and played a part in both goals by winning the free kick for the first and then forcing defender Adam Griffin into the poor back-pass for the second. Dan Walker replaced club captain Sam Hatton and, although some wayward finishing ensures his wait for a first Shots goal continues, his free kick for the opening goal proved crucial. Tom Richards made his first start since the opening day of the season, after Nick Anderton returned to Preston North End, and had a solid game at left-back. One player hoping to feature on Tuesday evening will be Shots top scorer Charlie Walker, who scored once in eleven games for Boreham Wood last season during a loan spell from Luton Town.
Jake Gallagher has now completed his three-game suspension, so will be an option for the Aldershot Town manager, whilst Sam Hatton’s illness may well have subsided enough for him to make the trip to Hertfordshire. 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 with Bromley, but fellow defender Joe Oastler’s recovery from an ankle operation will keep him out until November.
Allinson had made a number of eye-catching signings since Boreham Wood’s promotion in the hope of securing a second season in the non-league top flight. The most notable was the former Dagenham & Redbridge captain Scott Doe, who made 243 Football League appearances for the East London club, whilst midfielder Luke Howell also arrived from the Daggers. Experienced striker Charlie MacDonald signed after eight goals and a Conference winners medal with Barnet last season, with former Bees loanee Conor Clifford, who signed from Southend United, also bringing the experience of that title-winning campaign. Joe Devera (Portsmouth) has been partnering Doe at centre-back, whilst the former Tranmere Rovers full-back Danny Woodards has also been a regular in this campaign. Midfielder Billy Clifford (Walsall), striker Mustafa Tiryaki (Turkish side Göztepe SK) and goalkeeper Preston Edwards (season-long loan from Ebbsfleet United) also add depth to the squad. Allinson has also brought in a quartet of short-term loanees – defensive midfielder Clovis Kamdjo (Forest Green Rovers), attacking midfielder Anthony Jeffrey (Concord Rangers) and strikers Jamie Lucas (Bristol Rovers, the Wood’s top scorer this season with three goals) and Zane Banton (Luton Town).
Undoubtedly, Boreham Wood’s biggest loss from the previous campaign was 32-goal top scorer Lee Angol, who returned to Luton Town after the completion of his one-year loan deal. Not only was he the Conference South’s top scorer with 24 league goals, making the Conference South Team of the Year in the process, he also won the prestigious Young Player of the Year Award at the National Game Awards. Former Aldershot Town captain Ben Herd also left Meadow Park in the summer, joining Hemel Hempstead Town, whilst Scott Thomas and Ben Martin moved to St Albans City and Ryan Hope moved to Wealdstone. However, the Wood’s boss was able to keep a number of key performers from the promotion-winning squad, including goalkeeper James Russell (who was also named in the Conference South Team of the Year), defenders Josh Hill, Callum Reynolds, Sam Cox and player-assistant manager Luke Garrard; midfielders Matty Whichelow (eleven goals last season), Ricky Shakes (twelve goals in 2014-15) and Graeme Montgomery (thirteen goals last season), plus forward Ricky Morias, who’s thirteen goals last season included the winner in the Play-Off Final.
Since the start of the season, however, Hill and Montgomery have gone on 93-day loan deals to Hemel Hempstead Town and St Albans City respectively, whilst Whichelow and defender Ben Nunn have missed the last few games because of injury.
Tuesday evening sees the thirteenth meeting between these two sides with Aldershot Town winning nine, losing two and drawing just once. However, the last games were during the Shots’ 2002-03 Ryman League Premier Division promotion-winning campaign, both of which they won 1-0. A Nick Roddis goal gave the hosts the win at what is now the EBB Stadium in February 2003, whilst Roscoe D’Sane got the only goal of the game at Meadow Park the previous November. 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 record away to the Wood is equally impressive with three wins, a draw and just the one defeat, winning on their last three visits to this ground. As well as the above victory, the Shots also won 3-1 at Meadow Park in April 2002, with Adam Parker scoring twice and Lee Holsgrove getting the other, whilst a Grant Payne hat-trick helped Aldershot Town to a 5-2 win in December 1999. The only home win was a 2-0 victory in a Ryman League Division 1 game in October 1994, whilst the two teams drew 1-1 in November 1998.
Tuesday evening’s referee is Rob Whitton from Essex, who took charge of the Shots’ 3-2 home win against FC Halifax Town last month. He also oversaw two Shots’ home games last season – the 2-1 win over Grimsby Town last September and the 2-2 draw with Bristol Rovers the following month – as well as the 2-1 home FA Cup defeat to Shortwood United in October 2013. So far this season, he’s refereed six National League games, showing fifteen 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