Aldershot Town v Ebbsfleet United Match Preview – Saturday 20 January 2018
After a fourteen day ‘winter break’ from National League action, Aldershot Town host tenth-place Ebbsfleet United on Saturday. The Shots have begun 2018 well, with away victories at Woking and Dover Athletic. Last time out, goals from Jim Kellermann and debutant substitute Nicke Kabamba saw Town take all three points from The Crabble for the second year running.
Rob Worrall previews the action…
The Shots were once again without injured skipper Callum Reynolds (ankle) at Dover, but top scorer Shamir Fenelon returned to the side and played 45 minutes. Gary Waddock has lost the services of the effervescent Bernard Mensah, who has joined League One Bristol Rovers, but has brought Fabien Robert back in on loan from Forest Green Rovers until the end of the season. Robert may need a little longer to regain full fitness, whilst Nick Arnold continues to recover from a long-term knee injury.
Opposition – Ebbsfleet United FC:
Nickname: The Fleet
Ground: Stonebridge Road
Manager: Daryl McMahon
Ebbsfleet United were promoted to the National League in 2011 but then suffered relegation in 2013 to National League South, where they remained until last season’s promotion. They battled it out with Maidenhead United for the title, losing just four matches all season, but eventually finished second on 96 points. In the Play-Offs, they faced Hampton & Richmond Borough, beating them 2-1 in both legs to progress to the final, where they took on Chelmsford City, and another 2-1 victory saw them secure a place in the National League.
Daryl McMahon began life in football with West Ham United in 2002 and eventually made his professional debut during a loan spell with Torquay United. He had spells with Port Vale, Leyton Orient and Notts County, before signing-on for two years at Stevenage. He later went on to play for Cambridge United, Farnborough and Boreham Wood, where he joined as a player-coach in 2011 at the age of 27. He left in 2012 and joined Eastleigh, before a year with Dover Athletic. His first spell with Ebbsfleet United was in 2013, and he was appointed Caretaker-Manager following the departure of Steve Brown in 2014, taking control for three games before Jamie Day was appointed. In 2015, he signed for Boreham Wood and made 11 appearances. In April 2015, he was offered the role as manager at Ebbsfleet United, finishing second in his first season before losing in the Play-Offs to Maidstone United. Twelve months later he led The Fleet to promotion and signed a new five-year contract this season.
Sam Deering was the only player to leave Stonebridge Road of their own choice following last season’s promotion to the National League, opting to join the revolution at Billericay. McMahon retained eighteen players – more than any other National League club, including ex Shots Dave Winfield & Aaron Mclean. Striker Danny Kedwell (12) and midfielder Jack Powell (9) lead the Fleet goal scoring charts at present. McMahon added eight players in the close season, most notably; Maltese international defender Sam Magri from Dover, experienced winger Myles Weston (Wycombe) and midfielder Jack Payne (Blackpool). His most recent capture is that of the vastly experienced Port Vale right back Lawrie Wilson, who has joined on loan to the end of the season.
After a bizarre start to the season, in which The Fleet drew ten of their first eleven National League games, they then began to find the winning formula. It was, though, The Shots that brought an end to their thirty-two-match unbeaten run, which extended through the back-end of last season and into their first couple of months in the top tier of Non-League. More recently, McMahon’s side have shown mixed form, winning five, losing four and drawing two of their last eleven matches.
As mentioned above, The Shots came away from Stonebridge Road with all three points the last time the two sides met in September 2017, with James Rowe and Scott Rendell scoring the goals in a 2-0 victory. Overall, Aldershot Town enjoy the better record, having won ten, drawn five and lost just four of the nineteen matches played between the two sides.
Prior to September’s encounter, it had been ten years since The Fleet and The Shots had last met. Back in 2007-08 season, in which Waddock led Aldershot Town back to the Football League, The Shots took four of the six points in the Conference. However, it was Ebbsfleet United who prevailed in the two-legged semi-final of the FA Trophy, beating Shots 3-1 at Stonebridge Road and then progressing to Wembley with a 1-1 second leg draw at The Rec.
Saturday’s referee is Peter Gibbons, who has taken charge of 11 National League matches so far this season, showing 25 yellow cards and no red cards to date. He has not refereed Aldershot Town this season.
BBC Surrey Sport’s Rob Worrall and Shots star Nick Arnold 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. To interact with them, tweet @RobShot66 and @narnold10.