AFC Fylde v Aldershot Town Match Preview – Saturday 10th March 2018
It may not have been a vintage performance, but on Tuesday evening The Shots returned to winning ways, moving back up to third place in the National League. Goals from Scott Rendell and Manny Oyeleke, either side of a wonder strike from Hartlepool’s Blair Adams, saw Gary Waddock’s team secure all three points. On Saturday, Aldershot Town make their first ever trip to Mill Farm, to take on fellow Play-Off contenders AFC Fylde, on what will also be the tenth-annual Shots supporters ‘Tour of Duty’.
Rob Worrall previews the action…
Waddock will once again be without goalkeeper Lewis Ward, who is likely to remained side-lined for a couple more weeks after a muscle injury picked up in the warm-up prior to the Wrexham match. Jim Kellermann, so influential for The Shots this season, and Forest Green Rovers loanee Fabien Robert are also doubtful. Nick Arnold completes the quartet of players likely to be unavailable to Waddock this weekend, but Cheye Alexander, who returned to action midweek, has now fully recovered from his eye infection.
AFC Fylde were founded in 1988, as Kirkham & Wesham. They won the FA Vase in 2008 and then changed their name to AFC Fylde. They play at Mill Farm, in Wesham, are nicknamed The Coasters and are playing at National League level for the first time this season.
Former Tranmere Rovers, Stockport County and Bury defender Dave Challinor is in charge of The Coasters. Challinor ended his playing career and started his managerial experience at Colwyn Bay, whom he guided to runners-up spot in the Northern Premier League in his first season at the helm, eventually gaining promotion to what was Conference North via the Play-Offs. In November 2011, he was announced as the new manager of AFC Fylde, who at that time played in the Northern Premier League Division 1 North. His impact was instant, gaining promotion as Champions in his first season and then guiding The Coasters to the Northern Premier League Play-Offs the following season. They lost on that occasion, but gained promotion to Conference North twelve months later.
Last season, Challinor led The Coasters to the top tier of non-league as they romped to the National League North title. On a personal level, it ensured a quite remarkable fourth promotion in five years for him.
After a slow start to life at National League Premier level, AFC Fylde really began to find their feet, and an unbeaten January, with five wins from their six matches, lifted them into a play-off position. Since then, they have won two, drawn one and lost three National League matches and they come into Saturday’s game in eighth place. The Coasters gave a good account of themselves in the FA Cup, beating Kidderminster Harriers 4-2 before going on to hold League One high-flyers Wigan Athletic to a draw at Mill Farm, only to lose in the replay. The Coasters, impressively, are the National League’s top goal scorers, with sixty-one strikes to date from just thirty-six games.
Any review of the AFC Fylde playing squad has to start with prolific striker Danny Rowe, who scored an incredible 50 goals for The Coasters last season. He has coped well with the transition to top-flight non-league football and leads both the club’s and the National League’s goal-scoring charts this season, with twenty-four strikes in all competitions to date. Rowe’s goals have been well backed up by former Lincoln City striker Jack Muldoon, who has weighed in with eight goals of his own, whilst winger Jonny Smith (on loan from Bristol City) has chipped in with seven goals. At the back, experienced centre-back and former Shots loanee Simon Grand anchors the defence, which also contains three players who joined from Kidderminster Harriers in the close season: Jordan Tunnicliffe, Josh Ezewele and Zaine Francis-Angol. In midfield, The Coasters also have promising talents in Serhat Tasdemir, who started his career with Blackburn Rovers, Henry Jones (Bangor City and Swansea City Academy) and England C international Sam Finley, all of which have four goals apiece this season.
Aldershot Town FC and AFC Fylde had never played each other before November’s fixture at The EBB Stadium, in which the Shots came out on top. Shamir Fenelon gave The Shots an early lead, but The Coasters levelled through top scorer Rowe after the break. Will Evans scored Town’s eighty-sixth minute winner as both sides finished the game with ten men after referee Sam Purkiss dismissed Fylde’s Jack Muldoon and The Shots’ Manny Oyeleke.
Saturday’s referee is Andrew Miller, who has refereed 16 matches so far this season, showing 53 yellow cards and three red cards to date. He has refereed Aldershot Town on two occasions this season: the 2-0 defeat at Macclesfield Town in September and the 1-1 draw at Guiseley in December.
BBC Surrey’s Rob Worrall and former Shots striker John Grant will be covering the game on Saturday, bringing live commentary via the BBC Sport website and BBC Sport App from 2:50pm. You can also contact them throughout the afternoon via Twitter. Get in touch with them by tweeting @RobShot66 and @JGakamoto9.