Aldershot Town v Torquay United – Match Preview – Saturday 14 October 2017
Last Saturday’s thrilling 3-3 draw at Maidenhead left Aldershot Town without a win in their last four league matches. The Shots twice led at York Road, with Jim Kellermann and Adam McDonnell on the scoresheet in the first-half. However, after the break, the home side levelled from a long throw-in before taking an 86th minute lead from the penalty spot after Will De Haviland’s unfortunate handball. Kellermann – assisted for the second time in the match by Scott Rendell – saved the day in the 90th minute, blasting the ball in off the upright to secure a point for the visitors.
On Saturday, Town take a break from league action and host Torquay United in the 4th qualifying round of the FA Cup.
Rob Worrall previews the action…
The majority of Waddock’s playing squad are currently fit. Bernard Mensah has been back in training this week but Saturday could be a few days too soon for a return to matchday action. Nick Arnold’s cruciate ligament injury will keep him out until at least March and Bobby-Joe Taylor remains side-lined with a knee injury.
Opposition – Torquay United:
Nickname: The Gulls
Manager: Gary Owers
League position: 24th
The Gulls found themselves in a battle at the wrong end of the National League table and, with three matches to play, looked odds-on to be relegated. However, a maximum nine points from those final games saw them finish 17th. Ex-Shots striker Brett Williams scored crucial goals in those games to help preserve Torquay’s National League status.
Gary Owers was appointed Manager in September 2017, following the sacking of Kevin Nicholson. Born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Owers began his playing career with Sunderland, making his debut in 1986 and playing in the 1992 FA Cup Final, in which the Black Cats lost to Liverpool. In December 1994, Owers moved to Bristol City for a fee of £250,000, and he spent four years there, before moving to Sam Allardyce’s Notts County in the summer of 1998. He was released by Notts County at the end of the 2001–02 season and was signed by Nigel Spink, the manager of Forest Green Rovers, in August 2002.
Owers became player-coach at Bath City in October 2003. He was appointed as Bath’s new manager the following month and led them to sixth place in the Southern League Premier Division in 2005–06. He has also been the manager of Forest green Rovers, as well as the assistant manager at Aldershot Town, Plymouth Argyle and Gateshead. Owers is assisted by Martin Kuhl, who was Assistant Manager to Gary Waddock as The Shots won the Blue Square Premier in 2007-08.
Former manager Nicholson chose to release two players from last season’s squad but lost or failed to agree contracts with a further seven. Goalkeeper Brendan Moore – so outstanding against The Shots at Plainmoor – has moved up to League One Rochdale. Strikers Brett Williams and Shaun Harrod moved on to Bromley and Matlock respectively. Winger Dan Sparkes was snapped up by Dagenham & Redbridge, and Aman Verma went to Tamworth. Nathan Rowe-Turner is now at Chester and Courtney Richards at Macclesfield Town.
Just six players remained at Plainmoor: ex-Shots Damon Lathrope and Sean McGinty, defender Myles Anderson, midfielders Sam Chaney and Luke Young, and striker Ruairi Keating, who scored United’s goal at The EBB Stadium back in April.
Nicholson brought in twelve players: goalkeeper Ryan Clarke (from Oxford United), left-back Liam Davis, right-back Ryan Higgins (Southport), centre-back and Captain Josh Gowling (Grimsby Town), midfielders Jake Gosling (Bristol Rovers) and Jan Klukowski (York City), plus utility player Jordan Lee (Bournemouth). Forward Jamie Reid has once again joined on loan from Exeter City and is joined up top by some exciting striker signings: Jon-Paul Pittman (Harrogate Town), Rory Fallon (Plymouth Argyle) and James Gray (Glenavon). Gray initially came in on trial, but hit the net four times in pre-season to earn a contract.
Since taking the reins, Owers has brought in winger Josh McQuoid on a three-month loan from Luton Town and striker Rhys Murphy (loan) from Forest Green Rovers.
The Gulls failed to win a game prior to Nicholson’s departure and took a while to register their first win under Owers. It finally came in fine style, at home to Maidenhead United on Tuesday 3 October, when The Gulls ran out 4-0 winners. Last weekend, Torquay lost 2-0 at home to league leaders Dover Athletic.
Aldershot Town and Torquay United have faced each other on eighteen previous occasions, with the Shots having the edge by eight wins to five, plus five draws. The two sides met at The EBB Stadium back in August, with The Shots winning by the odd goal in five. The Gulls secured a valuable point towards their National League survival, also at The EBB Stadium in back in April, Ruairi Keating scoring their goal in a 1-1 draw.
In October 2016, Waddock’s team were thwarted almost single-handedly by Gulls keeper Brendan Moore. His shut-out earned United a clean sheet and a point. The draw took Town’s unbeaten run against The Gulls to seven games (four wins and three draws). In the first meeting last season, The Shots won 2-0 down at Plainmoor, with Sam Hatton and Charlie Walker getting the crucial first-half goals; whilst the game at the EBB Stadium in March saw the two sides play out a tedious 0-0 draw.
The last time the South Devon side beat the Shots was at Plainmoor in October 2012. A nineteen-minute Craig Reid hat-trick had given the visitors a 3-0 lead, but the hosts rallied to win 4-3, with Rene Howe netting the 89th minute winner. Perhaps the most memorable match between the two sides (for Shots supporters at least) was the Blue Square Premier tie in March 2008, which saw Scott Davies’ famous winner in the run-in to the title.
Saturday’s ‘man in the middle’ is Chris O’Donnell who has taken charge of seven National League fixtures so far this season, showing 30 yellow cards and one red card. That red was the sending off of Kodi Lyons-Foster at Eastleigh in August.
BBC Surrey Sport’s Rob Worrall and ex-Shots and Gulls striker Tim Sills 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 @Sillsmeister, or post on the match thread in the Aldershot Town FC Fans group on Facebook.