Aldershot Town v Maidenhead United – Match Preview – Saturday 7 April 2018
Aldershot Town remain in a Play-Off position despite a winless Easter weekend, and with three of their remaining five matches at The EBB Stadium should be confident of at least maintaining that position. That run starts with the visit of mid-table Maidenhead United on Saturday.
Rob Worrall previews the action…
Recent weeks have been more about squad rotation, and team selection for manager Gary Waddock, than the injuries his playing squad have been dogged by for most of the season. Nick Arnold continues to build his way back to full fitness, following his long-term knee injury, and despite steady progress, it’s doubtful that he’ll be back in action this season. Jake Gallagher missed out against Eastleigh – Waddock taking no chances following the midfielder’s knock, picked up at Solihull Moors – although he could be back in contention for a place on Saturday. Otherwise, Waddock should have a full playing squad to pick from.
Opposition – Maidenhead United:
Nickname: The Magpies
Ground: York Road
Head Coach: Alan Devonshire
Formed in 1870, Maidenhead United are one of the oldest football clubs in the country, originally known simply as Maidenhead Football Club. They played their first match in December of that year against Windsor Home Park on a site close to the river Thames. They played their first game at their York Road ground in February 1871, coming up against Marlow. It is still their ground and holds the record of the oldest continuously used ground in senior football.
Maidenhead were one of the fifteen original clubs to compete in the FA Cup, when the competition began in the 1871-72 season, which Wanderers famously won for the first time. They have great history in the competition, reaching the semi-final in 1873 before losing to Oxford University.
Maidenhead were founder members of the Southern Premier League, facing the likes of Watford, Brentford and Fulham, but it proved too demanding and they dropped to the West Berkshire League. They moved across a number of divisions in non-league throughout their history, picking up three Corinthian and three Spartan league titles.
Undoubtedly the greatest season in Maidenhead United history, the 2016-2017 season will never be forgotten at York Road. An amazing tally of 98 points saw them fight off Ebbsfleet United for the National League South title on the final day of the season, where they beat Margate 3-0 away from home to avoid the lottery of the Play-Offs. Highlights of last season included a 5-1 win over Bath City, 6-1 battering of Oxford City, and 5-0 wins over Bishop’s Stortford and Hemel Hempstead. Striker Dave Tarpey won the National League South Player of the Year award for his 44 league goals.
Alan Devonshire is an experienced manager who is currently in his second spell at the Club. He began his playing career at non-league Southall, before he was picked up by West Ham United, for whom he made over 350 appearances in 14-years between 1976 and 1990. The final two years of his playing career came at Second Division Watford.
In 1996, he took charge of Maidenhead United and won promotion from the Isthmian League Division One in 2000. He also won the 1997 Isthmian Full Members Cup and four Berks & Bucks Senior Cups, and reached the 2000 Isthmian League Cup Final.
From 2003, he spent eight years with Hampton & Richmond Borough, where he reached the FA Cup First Round, and in 2009 finished runners-up in Conference South, only to lose in the Play-Offs. Previously, he won promotion from the Isthmian League Division One South and the Isthmian Premier Division (2007).
Devonshire took over as Braintree Town manager in May 2011 as they ventured into the National League for the first time. He spent four seasons with the Iron, remarkably taking his part-time side to the Conference Play-Off semi-final, prior to re-joining Maidenhead United in 2015.
Prolific striker Tarpey continued where he had left off, netting seven times before earning a move to the Football League with Barnet. It was a big loss for The Magpies, but Devonshire kept the nucleus of last season’s title winners (including winger Sam Barratt, who has had trials with Crystal Palace) and added shrewdly to it. Centre-backs Alan Massey (100+ games for Braintree Town) and former Shots loanee Jake Goodman give them solidity in defence, whilst in attack Harry Pritchard has fifteen goals in all competitions, with Adrian Clifton and Ryan Upward both weighing in with six apiece. The loan signing of Moses Emmanuel from Sutton United has also proved successful, with the forward scoring five times since joining the Magpies.
The Magpies, who currently sit 15th in the table, settled quickly into the National League with just one defeat in their opening six matches. Losing Tarpey to the EFL after just seven games could have hit them hard, but under Devonshire’s excellent guidance, they promptly went to early leaders Sutton United and won 2-0. More recently, they have won just three of their last thirteen matches and have not tasted victory in their last five National League games. They last won away from home on 13th February at Guiseley (3-1) and overall have scored 52 goals and conceded 58.
The Magpies and The Shots have only met once at National League level – the thrilling 3-3 draw at York Road back in September. Inman, Clifton and Pritchard scored for United, with Town’s goals coming from Jim Kellermann (2) and Adam McDonnell.
Prior to that Autumn encounter, the two sides met previously six times in the Ryman Premier League, between 2000 and 2003, with The Shots winning on four occasions, drawing once and losing 3-0 at York Road in January 2001. In 2004, the teams met in the FA Cup at The Rec, with Town coming out 2-1 winners. Seven years later, The Shots and The Magpies met again, also in the FA Cup, with Aldershot Town needing a replay to progress following a 1-1 draw at York Road. Alex Rodman and Luke Guttridge scored the Shots goals as they won the replay 2-0.
Saturday’s ‘man in the middle’ is Richard Hulme, who has refereed 14 National League matches to date this season, showing 42 yellow cards and three red cards in those matches. He has not refereed Aldershot Town this season, but has officiated Maidenhead United on three occasions, resulting in one win, one draw and one defeat.
BBC Surrey Sport’s Rob Worrall and Shots defender Nick Arnold will be covering the game live on Saturday. Tune in to the BBC Sport website or BBC Sport App from 2.50pm for full match commentary. To interact with them, tweet @RobShot66 and/or @narnold10.