Aldershot Town v Torquay United – Match Preview – Tuesday 8 August 2017
Having kicked off the 2017-18 season with a 2-0 victory at FC Halifax Town on Saturday, Aldershot Town return to the EBB Stadium on Tuesday evening to renew acquaintances with Torquay United, with whom they drew twice last term.
Rob Worrall previews the action…
Aldershot Town manager Gary Waddock gave full debuts to three players at the weekend: Wycombe loanee centre-back Will de Havilland, winger Bobby-Joe Taylor and attacking midfielder James Rowe. All gave a good account of themselves, with Rowe scoring from the penalty spot after fourth debutant (and substitute) Shaun Okojie was brought down in the box. Earlier Shamir Fenelon had shown great touch, blistering pace and a cool finish to give his side a precious lead.
Waddock went into the Halifax game without the services of Bernard Mensah (groin) and Will Evans (fractured toe). Evans is expected to be out for a few weeks yet and the Shots boss is unlikely to risk Mensah on Tuesday.
Opposition – Torquay United
Nickname: The Gulls
Manager: Kevin Nicholson
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.
Kevin Nicholson is a former Gulls player who began his career as a trainee with Sheffield Wednesday, turning professional in 1998. He made just one appearance for the club, before moving on to Notts County (95 appearances), Scarborough (82), Forest Green (44). He joined Torquay United in June 2007 and stayed with the club for seven years before being released in May 2014. He then spent a season at Kidderminster Harriers (43 appearances) and another at Bath City (19).
On 28 September 2015, Nicholson was announced as Torquay United’s new player-manager. After a slow start to his managerial career, Kevin brought in a group of new players in the January transfer window and led United to an unlikely escape from a near-certain relegation. After a summer of financial uncertainty at the club, Kevin retained his position as manager for the 2016/2017 season with a smaller squad than before. Another challenging season saw them finish in seventeenth place.
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, whilst winger Dan Sparkes was snapped up by Dagenham and Redbridge and Aman Verma moved to Tamworth. Nathanial Rowe-Turner is now at Chester and Courtney Richards at Macclesfield Town.
Just six players remained at Plainmoor. Ex-Shots Damon Lathrope, Sean McGinty and Myles Anderson, midfielders Sam Chaney and Luke Young, and striker Ruairi Keating, who scored The Gulls’ goal at The EBB Stadium back in April.
Nicholson has brought in twelve players: goalkeeper Ryan Clarke (Oxford United), left-back Liam Davis, right-back Ryan Higgins (Southport), centre-back & Captain Josh Gowling (Grimsby Town), midfielders Jake Gosling (Bristol Rovers) and Jan Klukowski (York City); and utility player Jordan Lee (AFC 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.
The Gulls drew their opening National League encounter 0-0 with title favourites Tranmere Rovers at Plainmoor on Saturday. In a feisty affair, the visitors were reduced to nine men after the second-half dismissals of Steve McNulty and James Norwood. The point extended United’s unbeaten run in the National League to four matches.
Aldershot Town and Torquay United have faced each other on seventeen previous occasions, with the Shots having the edge by seven wins to five, with five draws. The Gulls secured a valuable point towards their National League survival at The EBB Stadium in April, Ruairi Keating scoring their goal in a 1-1 draw. In October 2016, Waddock’s team had been thwarted almost single-handedly by Gulls keeper Brendan Moore, when 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 of 2015-16, The Shots won 2-0 at Plainmoor, with Sam Hatton and Charlie Walker getting the crucial first-half goals; whilst the game at the EBB Stadium in March 2016 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 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.
Tuesday’s referee is Alan Young. Last season he took charge of 21 National League matches, showing 96 yellow cards and 9 red cards. He did not referee any of Aldershot Town’s matches in 2016-17.
BBC Surrey’s Rob Worrall and former Aldershot Town goalkeeper Nikki Bull will be covering the game live on Tuesday evening. Tune in to the BBC Sport website (or the BBC Sport App) from 7.35pm for full match commentary. You can also contact us throughout the afternoon via Twitter. Tweet your predictions and thoughts on the game to @RobShot66 and @BullWorldTrip.
You can also follow live text commentary via the Club’s twitter account @OfficialShots