Gateshead v Aldershot Town – Match Preview – Saturday 16 September 2017
Tuesday evening’s remarkable, against-the-odds victory for injury-decimated Aldershot Town, over previously unbeaten Ebbsfleet United, saw The Shots bounce back up to third place in the National League. On Saturday, Town hit the road again and travel north to take on Gateshead.
Rob Worrall previews the action…
Shots manager Gary Waddock, who named an unchanged team on Tuesday night, will have at least one extra string to his bow up at Gateshead, with Kodi Lyons-Foster having now completed his three-match suspension. Shaun Okojie remains troubled by a hip problem. Nick Arnold (ACL) is out until at least March, whilst Bernard Mensah (tendon), Will Evans (broken toe) and Will de Havilland (chipped knee bone) remain side-lined. Manny Oyeleke and Shamir Fenelon (both hamstring) are still a week or so away from a return and it’s also unlikely that Bobby-Joe Taylor (ankle) will travel north this weekend.
Opposition – Gateshead FC:
Nickname: The Tynesiders / The Heed
Ground: Gateshead International Stadium
Manager: Neil Aspin
The Heed looked on course for a Play-Off spot when a last-minute winner against Woking at The International Stadium in March saw them move up to fifth spot in the National League table. It had been their seventh win in eight undefeated games and few could have predicted the dramatic loss of form that would follow as Neil Aspin’s men tasted victory just once in their final eight outings. They ended up finishing eighth in the table, but there were enough signs of encouragement to suggest they could have a bigger say in 2017-18.
Gateshead turned to the experience of Neil Aspin in November 2015 when they needed a replacement for Malcolm Crosby, who had departed after just five months in the hot seat. Aspin was actually born in Gateshead but began his playing career with Leeds United, where he made almost 250 appearances as a defender during a seven-year spell. He was just as successful at Port Vale, who paid £150,000 for his services in 1989, and he played some 409 times for The Valiants before a spell with Darlington was followed by a short stint with Hartlepool United, for whom he played 11 games in 2001. Aspin cut his managerial teeth with Harrogate Town in 2005 but was offered the chance to step up at FC Halifax Town in 2009 and went on to guide them to three successive promotions before departing in September 2015.
Aspin lost five players from last season’s squad – most crucially in defence, three quarters of which moved on. In addition, The Heed boss released five and retained twelve, including strikers Danny Johnson and Jordan Burrow. Aspin’s new look defence includes right-back Theo Vassell from Wrexham, left-back Scott Barrow (Hartlepool United) and centre-backs Fraser Kerr (Macclesfield Town) and Neil Byrne (FC Halifax Town). Other key signings include experienced midfielder Russell Penn (Wrexham) and strikers Richard Peniket (FC Halifax Town) and Jordan Preston (Guiseley AFC).
Gateshead currently sit 11th, with the best home record in the National League, having won four and drawn one of their five matches at the International Stadium this season. On Tuesday, they led Chester 2-0 before being pegged back, only to secure all three points late on, thanks to their top scorer “own goal” who is in prolific form so far this term, heading The Heed’s goal scoring charts with four!
Aldershot Town and Gateshead have played each other on eight occasions, with the Shots finally registering their first victory at the EBB Stadium in September 2016. The game finished 3-0 to the Shots (Iffy Allen, Matt McClure and Charlie Walker with the goals), but the visitors missed a number of good opportunities. When the two sides met again at the International Stadium, in January 2017, the spoils were shared in a 1-1 draw. Jordan Burrow put The Heed ahead, before Scott Rendell tucked away the Shots’ equaliser.
The previous six meetings saw four wins for the Heed, including a double in 2015-16. The North-East side won 2-1 at the EBB Stadium on the opening day of the season, despite Rhys Browne opening the scoring, whilst they also came from behind to win 3-2 at home last February. Browne netted first again, finishing off a wonderful passing move, whilst Jake Gallagher made it 2-2 just before half-time. However, Paddy McLaughlin’s 53rd-minute strike ended up being the winning goal.
Both previous games in the North-East had finished all square, with the sides drawing 1-1 in September 2014. The visitors led again, through a Joe N’Guessan goal, but Danny Wright headed home an 88th-minute equaliser. In January of the same year, the game finished goalless, with Glenn Morris saving a 93rd-minute penalty from the home side’s Colin Larkin. Prior to last season, all three meetings at the EBB Stadium had finished 2-1 to Gateshead.
There were also five meetings between the North-East club and Aldershot FC. All five games were won by the home side, which included an 8-1 win for the Shots in the old Division 4 in September 1958 (the club’s record Football League victory) and a 3-2 victory twelve months later. The Tynesiders won 1-0 and 4-1 in a pair of league fixtures in January 1959 and September 1959 respectively, while also defeating the Shots 3-1 in an FA Cup Third Round tie at their old Redheugh Park ground in January 1949.
Saturday’s referee is Karl Evans, who has taken charge of four National League matches this season, showing 15 yellow cards and no reds. Last season, he refereed Aldershot Town’s 2-1 defeat at Forest Green.
BBC Surrey Sport’s Rob Worrall and Aldershot Town Director Tommy Anderson will be covering the game live on Saturday. Tune in to the BBC Sport website (or the BBC Sport App) from 2.48pm for full match commentary. To interact with them, tweet @RobShot66 or post on the match thread in the Aldershot Town FC Fans group on Facebook.