Aldershot Town v Dover Athletic – Match Preview – Saturday 9 September 2017
Aldershot Town returned to winning ways last Saturday, with a 1-0 home victory over Solihull Moors. The three points were achieved in quite exceptional circumstances, with manager Gary Waddock being unable to start nine of his playing squad due to injury, illness or impending births! Shamir Fenelon scored the only goal of the game in the tenth minute, only to injure his hamstring in doing so. Four players made their Shots debuts against Moors, including Ipswich Town loanees George Fowler and Adam McDonnell, and seventeen-year-old Academy graduates Luca Wrightman and Matt Bozier.
Rob Worrall previews the action…
Shaun Okojie (dead leg) and Scott Rendell (wife in labour) should be available for selection on Saturday, and Jake Gallagher may be an option to start again, following his recovery from illness. However, there was bad news for Nick Arnold this week, as the results of a scan suggested that his Anterior Cruciate Ligament injury will require surgery, with the full-back unlikely to return to playing action before March 2018. Will Evans (broken toe), Will de Havilland (chipped knee bone), Kodi Lyons-Foster (suspended), Manny Oyeleke (hamstring) and Shamir Fenelon (hamstring) are all definitely out, whilst it’s unlikely that Matt McClure – who limped off towards the end of the Solihull match will a knee problem – will be risked.
Opposition – Dover Athletic FC:
Founded: 1983 (following the dissolution of Dover FC)
Nickname: The Whites
Stadium: The Crabble Athletic Ground
Manager: Chris Kinnear
Dover were a Conference South club when they reached the third round of the FA Cup for the first time in 2011-12, following wins over Gillingham and Aldershot Town. In the 2012–13 season, The Whites reached the Play-Offs, only to lose in the final to Salisbury City. In the following season the team reached the second round of the FA Cup and made the Play-Offs once more, and on 10 May 2014 beat Ebbsfleet United 1–0 to seal the club’s return to the top flight of non-league football for the first time since 2002. In May 2016, in just their second season at this level, Dover finished fifth to make the National League Play-Offs, but lost out to that season’s promotion final winner, Forest Green Rovers. Last term, Dover found themselves in a battle over the closing weeks for the final Play-Off spot with The Shots, which saw the Hampshire club pip The Whites to fifth place.
Chris Kinnear is in his second stint as Dover manager. In his first reign at Crabble, he took the club from the foot of the Southern League to the Conference, winning the Southern League Southern Division (1987-88) and the Southern League Premier Division twice (1989-90, 1992-93), reaching the Conference in 1993 for the first time after the club were contentiously denied due to ground regulations in 1990.
After promotion in 1993, Kinnear led the club to eighth place in their first Conference season after an incredible start saw the team challenging at the top of the table before slipping away. A year later, personal issues led to his departure from Crabble after ten years of success.
Re-joining the club in 2013, he has led them to promotion back to the top tier of non-league football and fifth and sixth place finishes in the last two seasons.
Kinnear has had to recruit an almost entirely new squad this season, with just five players remaining from 2016-17. Eleven players departed at the end of their contracts, including the National League’s top scorer Ricky Miller (forty goals) who joined League One side Peterborough United. Fellow strikers Ross Lafayette and Moses Emmanuel signed for Sutton United, along with defender Aswad Thomas. Other notable departures include Maltese international Sam Magri (Ebbsfleet United), Bondz N’Gala (Dagenham & Redbridge) and Ricky Modeste (Billericay).
The Dover boss, who has a reputation for getting the best out of players with a point to prove, has recruited well. Connor Essam, who had been on loan at Crabble last season, signed permanently from Eastleigh, and other defensive signings include Josh Passley (Whitehawk), Femi Ilesanmi (Boreham Wood), Giancarlo Gallifuoco (Torquay United) and Manny Parry (Braintree Town). His midfield ranks have been bolstered by the likes of Nortei Nortey (Solihull Moors) and Mitch Brundle (Gateshead). Up front, Kinnear has good competition for places with four forwards joining: Toby Sho-Silva (Bromley), Jamie Allen (Southport), Ryan Bird (Newport County) and Kane Richards (Chester).
Remarkably, Dover travel to the EBB Stadium for Saturday’s match in sixth place, the position they finished in last season, whilst Town sit fifth, where they finished in 2016-17 as well. The Whites won three of their first four matches in August, including an opening day win at Hartlepool United, but then failed to win in their next three games. However, last weekend they too returned to winning ways, snatching late victory at Prenton Park, as Ryan Bird’s 79th minute penalty earned a 1-0 win against Tranmere Rovers in front of the live BT Sport cameras.
Aldershot Town won the key encounter between the two sides back in April – Matt McClure’s late penalty gaining The Shots three precious points in the race to a Play-Off place. Town has also won at Crabble back in August 2016, which saw them end a wretched run at the ground. First-half goals from Shamir Fenelon and Liam Bellamy (against his previous club) gave The Shots a 2-0 lead, before ex-Shots loanee Ross Lafayette pulled one back. In a frantic, high-tempo second period, with the home side inspired by the half time introduction of Ricky Miller, Town dug in and held on to claim all three points.
Saturday will see the tenth meeting between the two sides, and the seventh in the league. In 2015-16, The Shots were demolished 5-2 at Crabble, with all five goals coming from set pieces. Goals from Sam Hatton and Charlie Walker had put the visitors back on level terms shortly after half-time before defensive errors sunk any hopes of a positive result. Earlier that season, Stefan Payne had given the Kent side an early advantage at the EBB Stadium, before Richard Brodie’s first goal for Town ensured both teams finished with a point. In September 2014, The Shots’ trip to Crabble was another horror show, with the visitors going down to a comprehensive 3-0 defeat. The reverse game in March 2015 finished 3-1 to the home side, thanks to goals from Andre McCollin and a Jim Stevenson brace.
The three previous occasions saw the sides face-off in the FA Cup. The most recent one of those saw two Adam Birchall goals give the Whites (then of Conference South) a 2-0 home win against Kevin Dillon’s team in a second round tie in November 2010. The Kent side also won by the same score in the only other meeting at Crabble, a second qualifying round fixture in September 1996. Aldershot Town’s sole victory came courtesy of a Gary Abbott goal in a fourth qualifying round game on 31 October 2000.
Saturday’s referee is Alan Young, who has taken charge of four National League matches so far this season, showing 16 yellow cards and no red cards. He refereed The Shots’ home game versus Torquay United last month, showing seven yellow cards that evening. Last season, Young – who did not referee The Shots in 2016-17 – showed nine red cards in just 21 matches.
BBC Surrey Sports Rob Worrall, plus 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 2.50pm for full match commentary. Tweet your views to @RobShot66.