Aldershot Town v Gateshead – Match Preview – Tuesday 17 April 2018
Saturday’s 2-0 defeat at Tranmere Rovers left Aldershot Town in sixth place in the National League, with three games to go. On Tuesday, Gateshead visit the EBB Stadium in The Shots’ penultimate home fixture of the 2017-18.
Rob Worrall previews the action…
Manager Gary Waddock will assess the fitness of Scott Rendell, Fabien Robert and James Rowe prior to selecting his matchday squad, but Nick Arnold continues his recovery from the ACL injury suffered in August.
Opposition – Gateshead FC:
Nickname: The Tynesiders / The Heed
Ground: Gateshead International Stadium
Manager: Steve Watson
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 in 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.
Steve Watson was appointed Heed manager, to succeed Port Vale-bound Aspin, in October 2017, after 15 months as Assistant Manager at Macclesfield Town. Watson was previously coach at Birmingham City, after a playing career in which he made 262 appearances and scored 14 goals for Newcastle United. Having been The Toon’s youngest-ever player, at the age of 16 years 223 days, the versatile defender also played for Aston Villa, Everton, West Bromwich Albion and Sheffield Wednesday.
Gateshead lost five players from last season’s squad – most crucially in defence, three quarters of which moved on. Aspin had a further released five but retained twelve players, including strikers Danny Johnson and Jordan Burrow. Aspin’s new look defence included 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 included experienced midfielder Russell Penn (Wrexham) and strikers Richard Peniket (FC Halifax Town) and Jordan Preston (Guiseley AFC). Since taking charge, Watson has brought in defender Callum Williams on loan from Newcastle United, Ben Fox (Burton Albion) and Rees Greenwood on a short-term deal from Sunderland.
Gateshead currently sit 13th, with mixed form and just two wins in their last ten National League matches. This evening’s match is their fifth game in just 11 days, having drawn with Bromley, lost at Tranmere Rovers, drawn at FC Halifax Town and, on Saturday, beaten Eastleigh 2-0 at the International Stadium.
Earlier in the season, a depleted Shots squad came away with their first ever win on The Heed’s patch, as Fabien Robert hooked home a late winner.
Prior to that game, Aldershot Town and Gateshead had played each other on eight occasions, with the Shots registering their first victory 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 putting The Shots ahead, 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.
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.
Tuesday evening’s referee is Adam Penwell, who has taken charge of just six National League matches so far this season, showing 26 yellow cards and one red. He has not previously refereed either side in 2017-18.
BBC Surrey Sports Rob Worrall and Shots defender Nick Arnold will be covering the game live on Tuesday evening. Tune in to the BBC Sport website (or the BBC Sport App) from 7.35pm for full match commentary. To interact with them, tweet @RobShot66 and/or @narnold10