Aldershot Town v Bromley Match Preview – Tuesday 20th February 2018
Aldershot Town’s eight-match unbeaten run was ended by National League leaders Macclesfield Town on Saturday. The 4,358 spectators packed in to the EBB Stadium witnessed early controversy as referee David Rock awarded the visitors a third-minute penalty and sent off Shots defender Will Evans. The Silkmen took full advantage as goals from Danny Whittaker and Nathan Blissett saw them leading 2-0 against Town’s ten men with more than forty minutes left to play. However, Gary Waddock’s team showed great heart, togetherness and mental strength to stay in the game. Scott Rendell slotted home a penalty to half the deficit and Shots threw everything at their visitors in search of a late leveller, but eventually ran out of time. The win gave Macclesfield a four-point lead at the top of the National League coming in to Tuesday’s fixtures, which see Neil Smith’s Bromley visit the EBB Stadium.
Rob Worrall previews the action…
Shots skipper Callum Reynolds returned to the starting line-up on Saturday, initially in the right-back position to replace Cheye Alexander, who missed out due to an eye infection. Should Alexander return on Tuesday evening, Reynolds is likely to switch to the centre-back role he resumed following Will Evans’ early red card. Shamir Fenelon, who has missed the last two Shots matches, is back in training and could be in contention for the Bromley match. Nick Arnold continues to progress towards a return following his long-term knee ligament injury.
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 resulted in Play-Off semi-final defeat to Ebbsfleet United, only for them to claim the National League South title twelve months later. The Ravens finished 14th with sixty points in their first campaign at a national level, one place and four points above Aldershot Town. Last season, manager Neil Smith led the Kent outfit to a highly respectable tenth place finish in the top tier of Non-League – the highest placing in the club’s history.
Neil Smith played more than 350 games in the Football League, for Gillingham, Fulham and Reading. He then switched to non-league football, making 142 appearances for Woking, in addition to brief spells at Welling, Bromley and Maidstone United.
He was appointed Joint-Interim-Manager of Woking in March 2007 and helped steer the Surrey side to safety, only for Frank Gray to ultimately get the permanent role. Smith then took the reins of Welling United for just six months, before being sacked in January 2008 and returning, briefly, as a player to Bromley. After coaching spells at Grays Athletic, Croydon and Lewes, he took the job as Assistant Manager at Bromley. In February 2016, following the departure of manager Mark Goldberg, Smith took over as Interim Manager and, after a successful run of results, was given the job on a permanent basis. In the 2014-15 season, Smith led Bromley to the Conference South title and promotion to the National League.
Smith freshened up his playing squad in the summer, retaining just eight of last season’s Ravens and bringing in thirteen new players. He lost striker Toby Sho-Silva to Dover Athletic, but crucially retained the likes of promising right-back Alan Dunne, defender Jack Holland and forwards George Porter and Louis Dennis. The latter is Bromley’s top scorer this season, with 16 goals so far. Newcomers included three former Shots stars, in Adam Mekki (Tranmere Rovers), Brett Williams (came from and now gone back to Torquay United) and Iffy Allen (Wrexham AFC, now on loan to Wealdstone). Smith also brought in midfielder Josh Rees (Chelmsford) who has been a revelation, scoring 15 goals to date, and Luke Wannadio (Dartford) who has also excelled, scoring 8 times for the Ravens.
The Ravens currently sit eighth, just one point and one place outside the Play-Off positions. They got off to a flying start, unbeaten in their first five games, which included a 6-1 home romp against Leyton Orient. Three defeats on the spin followed, but they then settled down and have been in the top half of the table all season, quite often sitting in one of the six Play-Off positions. Most recently, they have won four, drawn one and lost two of their last seven National League fixtures. They lost narrowly to the only goal at high-flying Tranmere Rovers on Saturday, drawing a rare blank in front of goal. Indeed, they are the second highest goal-scorers in the league, with fifty-five goals to date in their thirty-three games played.
Tuesday evening sees the fourteenth meeting between these two sides, with the Shots winning eight, losing twice and drawing on three occasions. Back in November, goals from Bernard Mensah and Scott Rendell saw The Shots win 2-0 at Hayes Lane and hit the top of the National League. Prior to this season, the sides last met in February 2017, when The Shots romped to a 4-0 win at The EBB Stadium, with Nick Arnold, Shamir Fenelon, Jake Gallagher and Matt McClure all on the scoresheet. In August 2016, the two sides drew 2-2 at Hayes Lane, with Scott Rendell and Matt McClure giving the visitors a 2-0 advantage. However, goals from Tobi Sho-Silva and Louis Dennis earned a point for the Ravens. On the last day of 2015-16, a Charlie Walker brace and a Sean Francis own goal gave the Shots a 3-1 win in Barry Smith’s last game in charge, whilst in October 2015, at the EBB Stadium, Walker scored again to give the home side a 38th minute lead. Jack Holland equalised with a fine goal three minutes later before Jake Gallagher received a second-half red card.
Tuesday’s referee is Adrian Quelch, who has taken charge of just nine National League matches so far this season, showing 29 yellow cards and one red card to date. He has refereed Aldershot Town just once in those games, the 0-0 draw with Torquay United at Plainmoor back in early December.
BBC Surrey Sports Rob Worrall and Shots defender Nick Arnold will be covering the game live on Tuesday evening. Tune in to the BBC Sport website or BBC Sport App from 7.35pm for full match commentary. To interact with them, tweet @RobShot66 and/or @narnold10