Aldershot Town made it two defeats out of two in 2015 with a loss at home to the league’s bottom side, AFC Telford United on 4 January. The loss dropped them to 18th in the table, but hopes are that thirteen days rest will have reinvigorated the squad. A tough task awaits them this weekend, however, as they visit Lincoln City. BBC Surrey’s Gavin Denison previews the action.
The Shots’ league campaign reached a new low after the first home game of the New Year with boos ringing out at the final whistle. The 2-1 scoreline didn’t flatter the visitors, especially considering they hit the crossbar after twelve minutes. Neill Byrne’s header hitting the post and going in off Kieron Forbes in the 28th minute to give AFC Telford United the lead was galling, with Joe Oastler’s own goal just after the hour mark adding to the misery. Manny Oyeleke had had a trio of long-range opportunities either side of half-time, before Brett Williams’ second goal in three games (his eleventh of the season) got the Shots back into as the thickening mist descended. However, no further threats from the hosts were forthcoming as Andy Scott’s side tamely slumped to another defeat.
The defeat means the Shots have lost eight of their last ten games in all competitions, whilst only picking up three points from their last possible 21 in the Conference. The obvious area of concern is in the attacking third, with those ten games seeing Aldershot Town score just seven goals. In fact their record of 31 goals from 29 league games is the fourth-worst in the division and needs dramatic improvement if they’re going to move towards mid-table safety. However, the Shots’ only win since 25 November has come on the road (at Woking on 28 December) and their record of sixteen points from fifteen away outings is the eleventh-best record in the Conference.
2014-15 sees Lincoln City’s fourth successive campaign in the Conference, following their relegation from the Football League in May 2011. It was a sorry demise for the Imps, who had spent all-but-one of the previous eighty seasons in the Football League and famously made the play-offs for five straight campaigns between 2002 and 2007, but failed to secure promotion to the third tier of the Football League on each occasion. The Lincolnshire side have struggled in their first three seasons back in non-league, finishing 17th, 16th and then 14th in 2013-14, where they finished twelve points from the play-off places.
They’re faring better this season, however, sitting 11th, despite a disappointing to the start of the season. Six wins from the first eighteen league games saw former manager Gary Simpson relieved of his duties, with youth team coach Chris Moyses being promoted. Moyses has picked up nineteen points from his ten league fixtures in charge, including six wins from their last eight Conference games. We’re almost guaranteed goals this weekend, with only Barnet and Eastleigh scoring more than the Imps’ 49 league goals, but they also have the division’s fifth-worst defensive record. The Lincolnshire side are excellent home as well, wining their last five league games at Sincil Bank.
After beating league leaders Barnet 4-1 on 4 January, the Imps then collapsed to a 4-0 defeat at Eastleigh six days later, with the hosts missing three penalties. Speaking to the Lincolnshire Echo after the game, Moyses said: “We were well in the game until the sending off, it changed the game completely. I’m bitterly disappointed to see our game come to an end because of a reckless tackle. It was reckless, there is no point defending it, I’m not even going to try. We will deal with this at the club on Tuesday morning… I’m really proud of how they carried on despite the situation. You cannot measure how proud I am of how they put a shift in. They are proper honest men, and that will do for me… We’re disappointed the run has come to an end, but we’ll go again next Saturday, let’s have another run of wins.”
Andy Scott made one change for the home game against AFC Telford United, with captain Glenn Wilson returning from a knee injury in place of Andre McCollin, who dropped to the bench. The Shots boss will be able to call on two new signings this weekend with defender Danny East (Portsmouth, loan until 9 February) and forward Ryan Jarvis (York City, loan until the end of the campaign) arriving earlier this week. Both will be keen to return to action, with East (one goal in nineteen games last season) missing the first half of the campaign with a groin problem, whilst Jarvis (nine goals in forty games last season, none in nine in 2014-15) hasn’t played since a red card in York City’s home loss to Shrewsbury Town on 18 October.
Damon Lathrope (who’s been out for over three months with a groin problem) and Josh Scott (who broke a metatarsal in the home defeat against Gateshead at the beginning of November) are back in training and may be ready for this weekend’s game. However, Mark Molesley’s achilles problem has been described as a long-term ailment, so he’ll be out for the foreseeable future. Tristan Plummer and Naby Diallo were both in the last Aldershot Town squad, but have since left the club, as has forward Tom Derry. The loan spells of Dan Holman and Manny Oyeleke have also ended, with the pair returning to Colchester United and Brentford respectively.
Gary Simpson oversaw a severe pruning of his squad last summer with thirteen players leaving Sincil Bank and just six arriving on permanent deals, although three further players were signed on long-term loan deals. Amongst those who moved on were midfielders Bohan Dixon, Dan Gray and Jake Sheridan, forwards Waide Fairhurst, Danny Rowe and Adi Yussuf, plus defender Luke Foster. However, two of the summer signings – Karl Ledsham (Southport) and Sahr Kabba (Havant & Waterlooville) – have already left the club, whilst goalkeeper Nick Townsend (Birmingham City) was recalled halfway through his season-long loan deal. Those who remained at the club include goalkeeper Paul Farman, defenders Sean Newton and Nat Brown, midfielders Alan Power and Jon Nolan, plus last season’s twenty-goal top scorer Ben Tomlinson, who has nine goals so far in this campaign.
The next highest scorer after Tomlinson for Lincoln City last season was Power with six goals, so Simpson’s main focus was to strengthen his forward line. Strikers Jordan Burrow (eight goals this season, signed from Stevenage) and Delano Sam-Yorke (seven goals, on loan from Cambridge United until the end of the season) have added goals to the squad, whilst Marcus Marshall (arrived on a season-long loan from Morecambe) has featured prominently in an attacking midfield role. In the defensive third, centre-back Tony Diagne (Morecambe), right-back Jake Caprice (Dagenham & Redbridge) and defensive midfielder Hamza Bencherif (five goals this year after signing from Algerian club JS Kabylie) have all proved good captures by the former Macclesfield Town manager. Moyses’ one signing has been Birmingham City midfielder Charlee Adams, who’s on loan with the Imps until the end of February.
The Lincoln City boss has a largely fully-fit squad to choose from, with the only definite absentee being Jon Nolan, who will be suspended on Saturday after being sent off at Eastleigh. Tom Miller has missed the last two weeks with a groin problem, but good replace Nolan in the centre of midfield.
Saturday sees the tenth meeting between Aldershot Town and Lincoln City, with the North-East Hampshire side certainly having the superiority, having won six, drawn one and lost two of the previous eight meetings. In September, a Brett Williams goal gave the Shots all three points in a 1-0 victory at the Electrical Services Stadium, but, six months earlier, the Imps won 3-2 at the same ground. Goals from Tom Miller and Thierry Audel twice gave the visitors the lead, with Bradley Bubb and Josh Scott equalising, before Ben Tomlinson netted the 70th-minute winner.
Williams also got the only goal of the game on Aldershot Town’s last visit to Sincil Bank, when his second-half penalty earned all three points on 12 October 2013. It continued the Shots’ excellent run of results at the ground, with Aldershot Town winning on three of their four trips. The Lincolnshire side’s only win came in October 2009, when Sergio Torres scored the only goal of the game. Incredibly, that’s the Imps’ only home win over a side from Aldershot in thirteen fixtures dating back to April 1969, as Aldershot FC managed four wins and five draws in their last nine visits to Sincil Bank. Aldershot FC’s overall record against Lincoln City saw them win thirteen, draw eleven and lose nine of the 33 ties.
If he plays on Saturday, Anthony Tonkin will be playing on the occasion of his 35th birthday.
Saturday afternoon’s referee is Richard Wigglesworth from South Yorkshire, who took charge of the Shots’ 1-0 loss at Tamworth last March. So far this season, he’s refereed eleven Conference games, showing 36 yellow cards and two red cards.
BBC Surrey’s Gavin Denison and Rob Worrall of the Aldershot Town media team will be covering the game on Saturday afternoon. Tune in to 104.0 & 104.6 FM for team news just after 2pm, followed by pre-match interviews and full match commentary via the BBC Surrey website at 2.55pm.
We also want your thoughts on how you think the Shots will do against Lincoln City. Let us know on the day via the following methods:
Text: 81333 (please start your text with the word ‘Radio’)
Plus, we want your reaction to the game between 5pm and 6pm on Saturday in ‘The Final Whistle’. Win, lose or draw, we want to hear from you throughout this season. Call us on 03459 57 00 57 and let your voice be heard.