Aldershot Town suffered their second consecutive 1-0 defeat on Tuesday night, going down to a narrow loss at home to local rivals Woking. The Shots have an almost-immediate chance to bounce back, however, as they make the trip to Nuneaton Town on Saturday afternoon. BBC Surrey’s Gavin Denison previews the action.
After a highly entertaining series of local derbies between Aldershot Town and Woking, the midweek contest between the two teams was a lot cagier, with both sets of players largely cancelling each other out. The home side had their best chance after just ten minutes, when Josh Scott headed Jaydon Gibbs’ inch-perfect cross over the crossbar, but never really tested either Cards goalkeeper after that point. The home side improved slightly, as they did in the game at FC Halifax Town three days earlier, after the visitors took their 70th-minute lead through Giuseppe Sole’s long-range free kick, with Scott having a shot cleared off the line five minutes later. Ultimately though, Andy Scott’s team didn’t do enough from an attacking perspective to earn a positive result.
Despite away defeats at Eastleigh and FC Halifax Town, the Shots have put in a number of good showings away from the Electrical Services Stadium, and they should make the trip to Nuneaton Town confident of securing a result. Only Barnet and Kidderminster Harriers have conceded less than the Shots’ three goals on their travels, but the fact they’ve only managed to score three times on the road should see a close game this weekend. A couple of concerns for Andy Scott on the defensive side will be the fact that four of the seven goals conceded by his club have been from set-pieces, whilst six of the seven have been conceded from the 58th-minute onwards.
Football has been played in Nuneaton since 1889, with the current team being the third footballing incarnation, with previous clubs having disbanded in 1937 and been liquidated in 2008. The latter saw Nuneaton Borough suffer a two-division demotion from Conference North and restart as Nuneaton Town in the Southern League Division 1 Midlands. Successive promotions through the play-offs in 2008-09 and 2009-10 preceded a Conference North play-off final win in 2011 against Gainsborough Trinity. Boro’s first season in a national league, saw a fifteenth-placed finish, seven points above the relegation zone, but they improved on that last season to finish 13th, eleven points from the play-off places.
Nuneaton Town’s start to this campaign has been highly disappointing, however, as they sit in 20th place after eight games. Their first five fixtures saw the Warwickshire side pick up just one point without scoring a single goal. It was a start that saw the departure of manager Brian Reid, who’d only taken charge in April and had put together a record of two wins, two draws and six defeats from ten games. Their total of three goals scored is the worst in the division, but Boro have won their last two home games against Altrincham and Forest Green Rovers.
Reid’s assistant manager Mark Noon took charge of the team on Tuesday night and led them to an excellent 1-0 home win over Forest Green Rovers. After the game, the delighted boss told the Coventry Telegraph: “It’s all about the players. They’ve given us some real positive energy and attitude to everything they’ve done. We want to show energy and endeavour, and we did that. As a group, the players would admit they’ve been under-performing and they’ve come together and done the right thing. If you work hard, you get your rewards and in previous years we’ve always done that. We know we’re not a group that will be fighting for the title at the end of the season. So if every game we play, we can come off and say ‘I’ve given that a right go’ that’s all you can ask.”
Andy Scott named an unchanged line-up for the visit of Woking, with Anthony Tonkin keeping his place at left-back and the striking partnership of Brett Williams and Josh Scott continuing upfront. Dan Fitchett came off the bench for another lively substitute appearance and may force his way into Saturday’s starting eleven. After missing the last two months of last season with a knee injury and the first month of this campaign with a hamstring strain, Tristan Plummer also came off the bench on Tuesday to make his first appearance since 1 March. The former Weston-super-Mare forward should feature again this weekend as he bids to get back to full fitness.
Club captain Chris Barker has been injured for the last four games with a calf problem, and certainly won’t be rushed back to action, whilst a tendonitis issue has meant Mark Molesley has been unavailable for the last two matchday squads. Joe N’Guessan’s ankle injury caused him to miss the game against Woking and Scott will be hoping the Stevenage loanee will be fit for the game at Nuneaton.
Before his departure, Brian Reid had made plenty of changes to his squad over the summer, with twelve permanent signings arriving at Liberty Way and eleven moving onto pastures new. The most high-profile players to depart were last season’s top scorer Louis Moult (eighteen goals) and attacking midfielder Wes York, who both followed Reid’s predecessor Kevin Wilkin to Wrexham. Goalkeeper James Belshaw, defender Danny Sleath, plus strikers Dave Hibbert and Connor Taylor all moved to Tamworth, whilst striker Greg Pearson, midfielders Jon Adams and Phil Trainer, plus defenders Emmitt Delfouneso and Simon Forsdick also departed the club. Amongst those players to remain were striker Andy Brown (ten goals in 2013-14), midfielders James Armson and Adam Walker, plus defenders Gavin Cowan, Gareth Dean and Theo Streete.
In the attacking third of the pitch, Reid was able to bring in forwards Ben Hutchinson from Mansfield Town, veteran Craig Curran, who’d spent the previous eighteen months at League of Ireland side Limerick, and former Corby Town forward Jorrin John. The midfield was strengthened by Jack Dyer (Burton Albion) Anton Brown (Harrogate Town), Ryan Quinn (Coventry City) and Lee Fowler (Welsh Premier League club Cefn Druids), whilst Ryan Smith (Coventry City), Exodus Geohaghon (who last played for Solihull Moors in January), Connor Franklin (Alfreton Town) and former Shots right-back Ben Starosta were added to the defensive ranks. The first-choice goalkeeper is Reice Charles-Cook, who’s on a six-month loan deal from Coventry City, whilst Notts County striker Tyrell Waite is in the middle of a one-month loan spell.
Gavin Cowan is unlikely to be fit for Saturday’s game after injuring his knee last month, but Noon will be able to welcome Hutchinson back into his matchday squad after the striker completed a three-match suspension. James Armson has missed the last two games for personal reasons, but may be available for the visit of the Shots on Saturday.
These two clubs have only met on two previous occasion, with the Warwickshire side winning 2-1 in the corresponding fixture on 28 January of this year. Nuneaton Town played the pitch, as well as the wet and windy weather conditions, better than the Shots and secured a deserved 2-0 half-time lead thanks to goals from Andy Brown and Louis Moult. Aldershot Town only responding in the latter stages, with Tristan Plummer getting a goal back after 84 minutes, but the hosts held on for all three points.
Six weeks later, the Shots and Boro met at the Electrical Services Stadium, with the visitors again taking a 2-0 half-time lead through Gavin Cowan and a James Armson penalty. Andy Scott made two changes at the break, which gave Aldershot Town some extra impetus. Goals from Josh Scott and Martin Rowlands gave the Shots a share of the spoils.
If he plays on Saturday, Dan Fitchett will make his 50th appearance in the Conference.
Saturday afternoon’s referee is Ian Hussin from Liverpool, who is in his first campaign as a Conference referee. This season, he’s officiated in three Conference games, showing ten yellow cards and one red card.
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 radio frequencies and website at 2.55pm.
We also want your thoughts on how you think the Shots will do against Grimsby Town. 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.