Macclesfield Town v Aldershot Town – Match Preview – Saturday 30 September 2017
The 2-2 draw with Leyton Orient last Saturday saw Aldershot Town slip from the summit of the Vanarama National League, but they remain in second place in a congested top half of the division which sees the top eight sides separated by just two points. On Saturday, The Shots travel to Cheshire to face Macclesfield Town, who sit eighth, just one point behind them.
Rob Worrall previews the action…
Shots manager Gary Waddock should have Will de Havilland available on Saturday. De Havilland has returned from Wycombe Wanderers for a further loan period, following his recovery from a knee injury sustained whilst playing against Chester. Six players remain unavailable to Waddock this weekend. Nick Arnold (ACL) is out until at least March, whilst Bernard Mensah (tendon) and Bobby-Joe Taylor (knee) remain side-lined. Will Evans and Shamir Fenelon are now back in training, but are unlikely to be involved this weekend as they look to build fitness.
Opposition – Macclesfield Town FC:
Nickname: The Silkmen
Ground: Moss Rose
Head Coach: John Askey
The Silkmen spent most of last season in the top half of the National League table, but their chances of sneaking into the Play-Offs were dealt a blow by a loss of form in the closing stages, as they failed to win any of their final five games. Three wins from four during April had given them hope of nudging into the top five but in the end they had to be content with a ninth-place finish. There was also Wembley heartache for The Silkmen as they lost out 3-2 to York City in a thrilling FA Trophy Final at the end of the season.
The widely-respected John Askey has been the man in charge at Moss Rose since 2013, when he stepped up to replace David Moss, whom he had worked alongside as Assistant Manager. A forward during his playing days, Askey started out at Port Vale but dropped into non-league with Milton United after struggling to make a first-team breakthrough at Vale Park. In 1984 he joined Macclesfield Town and his goals helped them begin their move up in the footballing world, culminating in promotion to the Football League as Conference champions in 1994/95.
There was a lot of player movement at Moss Rose during the close season, and by the time 2017-18 got under way just four players remained: George Pilkington, David Fitzpatrick, Mitch Hancox and the evergreen Danny Whittaker. Key departures included striker Chris Holroyd (to Wrexham) Ollie Norburn (Tranmere Rovers) and Neill Byrne (Gateshead), whilst Kingsley James, John McCombe and Andy Halls all moved to Chester.
Askey’s new-look squad includes sixteen arrivals, including goalkeeper Shwan Jalal (Wrexham), centre-back Keith Lowe (Kidderminster Harriers), midfielders Elliott Durrell (Chester) and Danny Whitehead (Wigan Athletic), and striker Scott Wilson (Eastleigh). Wilson is The Silkmen’s top scorer so far this season, with five National League goals to date.
Askey’s squad have settled quickly and won five of their last seven league games. Like Aldershot Town, they have kept clean sheets in six of their twelve matches so far.
Aldershot Town and Macclesfield Town have faced each other on sixteen occasions, with the Shots winning four, losing six and drawing six of those encounters.
The Silkmen were one of just three teams to beat The Shots at The EBB Stadium last season. A goal in each half from Chris Holroyd saw them forge a 2-0 lead before Will Evans pulled one back for the home side. However, with both sides pushing for a Play-Off place in March 2017, it was The Shots won the return match at Moss Rose 2-0, thanks to second-half strikes from Kundai Benyu and Matt McClure. In the previous season both games were also won by the away side, with the Silkmen winning 3-0 at the EBB Stadium in a game where Jake Gallagher received his marching orders. Back in January, goals from Alfie Pavey and Damon Lathrope gave the Shots a 2-0 victory at Moss Rose. In fact, no home side has won any of the last seven encounters.
Saturday’s referee is Andrew Miller, who has taken charge of five National League games so far this season, showing 17 yellow cards and 1 red card to date. The only time that he refereed Aldershot Town last term was in the opening day fixture at Barrow, which The Shots lost 1-0.
BBC Surrey Sport’s Rob Worrall and ex-Shots striker John Grant 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. To interact with them, tweet @RobShot66 and @JGakamoto9.