Aldershot Town v Dagenham & Redbridge – Match Preview – Tuesday 3 October 2017
A 2-0 defeat at Macclesfield on Saturday saw Aldershot Town drop to eighth place in the National League, but they remain just three points off the top in an increasingly unpredictable and exciting season. The Shots, who have a reputation for quick starts themselves, conceded the fastest goal in the club’s history (20 seconds) in Cheshire. Despite plenty of possession, Shots were unable to level and the home side scored again in the second-half to wrap things up. On Tuesday evening, title favourites Dagenham & Redbridge visit The EBB Stadium.
Rob Worrall previews the action…
Will de Haviland, Will Evans and Shamir Fenelon all returned to the pitch at some point on Saturday to bolster the options available to Shots’ manager Gary Waddock. Chris Arthur and Kodi Lyons-Foster were left out of the squad. Arthur could return against The Daggers, allowing Cheye Alexander to return to his more regular right-back position. Nick Arnold (ACL) remains out until at least March, whilst Bernard Mensah (tendon) and Bobby-Joe Taylor (knee) remain side-lined, but Waddock otherwise has a full squad to select from.
Opposition – Dagenham & Redbridge FC:
Nickname: The Daggers
Ground: Victoria Road
Head Coach: John Still
Despite an extensive early-season injury crisis (sound familiar?) The Daggers finished fourth in the National League – one place above The Shots – and made the end of season Play-Offs, losing at the semi-final stage to eventual winners Forest Green Rovers.
Widely-respected manager John Still returned to Dagenham & Redbridge to commence his third spell in charge of the club in December 2015. He had previously been in charge between 1992 and 1994 and again between 2004 and 2013. The vastly-experienced boss has been patrolling dugouts since the 1970s and, despite being unable to save The Daggers from relegation from League Two, he was kept-on to lead the comeback. His knowledge of the non-league scene is second to none, having spotted and developed some real ‘gems’ over the years, including the likes of Craig Mackail Smith and Dwight Gayle.
Having seen his playing squad decimated by injury last season, the wily Still has put together a larger squad this season, keeping the vast majority of his 2016-17 squad and adding to it with both quality and quantity. Last season’s top scorer Oliver Hawkins has now progressed to the Football League, eventually joining Portsmouth in League One. Veteran striker Paul Benson and ex-Shots midfielder Luke Guttridge also left Victoria Road, as Still rang the changes in key positions.
With the long-term loan of the prolific Jordan Maguire-Drew also ending, the promising Corey Whitely has really stepped-up to the plate this season, weighing in with eight goals already and leading the club’s goal-scoring chart ahead of eye-catching new signings Morgan Ferrier (from Boreham Wood) and Michael Cheek (Braintree Town) although that pair have already scored seven goals between them to date.
Whitely was one of seventeen players to remain at Victoria Road, with a further 12 coming in, giving Still the biggest ‘full-time’ playing squad in the National League. Other new signings this season include defender Bondz N’Gala (Dover Athletic), winger Dan Sparkes (Torquay United) and centre-back Kevin Lokko, who was at Maidstone United last season but joined Stevenage in August, only to then be immediately loaned out to Daggers for the season.
The Daggers have started the season well and come into Tuesday evening’s game in second place in the National League table, with 23 points from their opening 13 matches. They are just a point behind leaders Dover Athletic and two points ahead of The Shots. They are – by some distance – the division’s top goal scorers and come into Tuesday’s match against Aldershot Town unbeaten in their last three league matches.
Tuesday evening sees the 26th meeting between Aldershot Town and Dagenham & Redbridge. Both teams have 11 victories each to their name, with just three matches between the two sides having been drawn. The last meeting between the two sides was as recently as March 2017 when, with both sides chasing a Play-Off place, it was The Shots who prevailed 3-1. Shamir Fenelon, Bernard Mensah and Matt McClure scored for Town, whilst Scott Doe scored the only goal for the visitors.
Earlier last season, Waddock’s men were perhaps a shade unlucky to come away from Victoria Road on the end of a 1-0 defeat, after impressing against John Still’s charges who sat 2nd in the league at the time. Corey Whitely’s 81st minute strike was all that separated the two teams.
Aldershot Town’s last Football League victory came against The Daggers in April 2013 at the EBB Stadium, as Michael Rankine netted the only goal of the game. Six months earlier, the two sides had played out a goalless draw in East London.
Overall, Aldershot Town have won 4, drawn 2 & lost 2 of their last 8 games against Tuesday’s opposition, with the other defeat coming in a 3-2 home loss in February 2010.
Tuesday evening’s referee is Peter Wright, who has taken charge of seven National League games so far this season, showing 17 yellow cards and no red cards to date. Last season, he refereed Aldershot Town just once, in the 2-2 draw away at Tranmere Rovers in April 2017.
BBC Surrey Sport’s Rob Worrall and ex-Shots skipper Ben Herd will be covering the game live on Tuesday. Tune in to the BBC Sport website or BBC Sport App from 7.30pm for full match commentary. To interact with them, tweet @RobShot66 and @BenHerd, or post on the match thread in the Aldershot Town FC Fans group on Facebook.