FC Halifax Town v Aldershot Town – Match Preview – Saturday 5 August 2017
Aldershot Town kick off the 2017-18 season at The Shay, the home of newly-promoted FC Halifax Town, on Saturday.
Rob Worrall previews the action…
Aldershot Town manager Gary Waddock has kept the vast majority of his playing squad from last season. Thirteen of them signed on for a further year, with only Anthony Straker (who opted for part-time football at Bath City) rejecting a new offer. Hot prospect Idris Kanu remained in contract, but moved on earlier this week to League One Peterborough United.
Waddock’s new signings include Shaun Okojie, a prolific striker at a lower level (40 goals in 39 starts for Corinthian-Casuals); Bobby-Joe Taylor, an exciting young winger from National League rivals Maidstone United; and attacking midfielder James Rowe, who was most recently with League Two Cheltenham Town.
Defensively, The Shots must start the new season without Will Evans (fractured toe) and, to counter this, Waddock has brought in centre-back Kodi Lyons-Foster and, on a month’s loan from Wycombe Wanderers, Will De Havilland.
The Opposition – FC Halifax Town:
Nickname: The Shaymen
Ground: MBi Shay Stadium
Manager: Billy Heath
2016/2017: 3rd in National League North (Promoted via the Play-Offs)
Formed in 2008 following the demise of the old Halifax Town, FC Halifax Town began life in the Northern Premier League Division One North. In their first season, Halifax finished eighth before storming to the league title in the 2009-10 campaign.
It was the first of successive promotions for the Shaymen as they reached the National League North in 2011. After a season in non-league’s step two, they built solid foundations and a year later went on to achieve promotion to the top flight via the play-offs in 2012.
With the old Halifax having spent the majority of their history in the Football League, the new Shaymen looked to continue that tradition, reaching the National League play-offs in their first season back. They failed to reach the play-offs the next season and another year on suffered relegation to the National League North. However, they would soon bounce back.
Under manager Billy Heath, the 2016-17 season was one to remember at the Shay. Having left promoted North Ferriby United to head across to West Yorkshire, he led his side to a competitive and successful year. They battled with the likes of AFC Fylde, Kidderminster Harriers and Salford City for league honours, but it was play-offs that greeted the Shaymen come May. They faced Salford City in the semi-final, drawing both legs 1-1 before winning 3-0 on penalties. They then went on to play Chorley in the final at the Shay. The game went to extra-time before Joe Garner’s 100th minute goal sent Halifax back to the National League in front of a record crowd for the National League North play-off final.
Manager Billy Heath has a wealth of experience in non-league football, but has never made it above National League level. During his playing career, he played for the likes of Alfreton Town, Lincoln United, Matlock and North Ferriby United.
He went into management, taking charge of the likes of Bridlington Town, Frickley Athletic and Hall Road Rangers before moving on to former club North Ferriby United in 2011. With the Villagers, he won promotion as champions of the Northern Premier League Premier Division and promotion via the play-offs in National League North.
Perhaps his greatest achievement came in the FA Trophy in 2015. Heath’s Ferriby side reached the final at Wembley where they met Wrexham. The Dragons led 2-0 before United pulled two goals back and then took the lead in extra-time. Louis Moult equalised late on for Wrexham before Ferriby took the honours in a penalty shoot-out.
Following promotion to the National League, Heath surprised many by taking the job at Halifax, who had been relegated to the National League North, but added to his CV yet another promotion last term.
Despite losing Richard Peniket (Gateshead), Jordan Sinnott (Chesterfield) and Kevin Roberts (Wrexham), Halifax have retained many of last season’s playing squad who will be hoping to continue their fine form into the National League. Striker Tom Denton bagged 18 goals last season in what was his second successive promotion.
It’s been a busy summer for Halifax with a number of quality signings. Former Wrexham defender Martin Riley signed for the club in May, and they have since signed Port Vale goalkeeper Sam Johnson and attacker Bohan Dixon from AFC Fylde. Heath has again signed one of his former charges at North Ferriby, Connor Oliver, who gives good cover both in midfield and defensively. Ben Tomlinson, a striker released by Carlisle United, has also joined, and midfielder Dion Charles has opted for a second loan spell (6 months) from Fleetwood Town.
FC Halifax Town played seven pre-season matches, winning four, drawing one and losing two of them. They scored 12 goals and conceded 6. Tom Denton led the way, scoring three times in his five starts.
Aldershot Town have met FC Halifax Town on six previous occasions, with a win and two draws at the EBB Stadium, plus two Shots defeats and one win in West Yorkshire. When the teams last met, in April 2016, The Shots came away with a rare win at The Shay, with goals from Jim Stevenson and Rhys Browne securing a 2-0 victory for the visitors.
Earlier in the season, Aldershot Town raced into a 3-0 lead, thanks to a Charlie Walker brace and another from Jim Stevenson, before goals from Danny Hattersley and David Brooks ensured a nervy finish at the EBB Stadium. In September 2014, The Shots lost 1-0 at The Shay, with Ross Dyer scoring the only goal of the game for the hosts. Ten months earlier, FC Halifax Town won again at home in this fixture, thumping the Shots 4-0.
Aldershot Town’s overall record at the Shay is less than impressive. Prior to the 2016 victory, Aldershot Town’s only away win came courtesy of a Tim Sills brace in a 2-1 victory in February 2004. Aldershot FC’s record at this ground wasn’t much better, winning four, drawing eight and losing ten of their 22 fixtures in Halifax.
Saturday’s referee is Joseph Johnson. Last season he took the middle in 16 National League matches, showing 50 yellow cards and six red cards. He did not referee Aldershot Town last season.
BBC Surrey’s Rob Worrall and ex-Shots goalkeeper Nikki Bull will be covering the game live on Saturday. Tune in to the BBC Sport website (or the BBC Sport App) from 2:50pm for full match commentary. You can also contact us throughout the afternoon via Twitter. Tweet your predictions and thoughts on the game to @RobShot66 and @BullWorldTrip.
You can also follow our Twitter account @OfficialShots for live text commentary.