Aldershot Town v Wrexham Match Preview – Saturday 25th November 2017
With the postponement of Tuesday evening’s match at Bromley, Aldershot Town return to action at home to the National League leaders Wrexham on Saturday. Last weekend, a solid professional display up at Victoria Park saw Aldershot Town record their first away win in two months. Late goals in each half from Bernard Mensah and Jim Kellermann led The Shots to a 2-0 victory. They come in to Saturday’s match in sixth place, six points behind Wrexham, with a game in hand.
Rob Worrall previews the action…
Waddock named an unchanged starting eleven for Tuesday’s aborted match, despite the long trip back from Hartlepool less than 72 hours earlier. That team has now recorded back-to-back wins, so few, if any, changes are expected, although Jake Gallagher and Scott Rendell both featured strongly after coming off the bench last Saturday and are the two most likely to be called upon, should Waddock make any tactical changes.
Whilst Jake Cole continues to recover from a hamstring injury, Reading loanee Lewis Ward, who kept his first clean sheet for Aldershot Town on Saturday, is again likely to deputise, with 17-year-old Luke Skinner likely to take a place on the bench. Shaun Okojie has returned from his loan spell at Wealdstone, whilst Bobby-Joe Taylor is back in full training and close to a return. Matt McClure is still troubled by a nagging groin injury and Nick Arnold continues his recovery from an ACL injury.
After 87 years as a Football League side, Wrexham were relegated to the Conference Premier in 2008. The closest they have come to a return to date is a fifth-place finish in 2012-13, before losing the Play-Off Final against Newport County. The North Wales club were also beaten by Luton Town at the Play-Off Semi-Final stage in the previous two campaigns, with the loss in 2011-12 coming after finishing runners-up to champions Fleetwood Town. Finishes of 17th, 11th and 8th then followed.
Last season, they finish 13th with 58 points, eight clear of the relegation zone and seventeen points off a play-off place.
Dean Keates made 601 professional appearances, scoring 69 goals as a midfielder for a host of clubs, including Walsall, Hull City, Peterborough United, Wycombe Wanderers (where he was managed by Gary Waddock) and Wrexham. Released from Wrexham in 2015, he then returned to the club in October 2016, initially as Caretaker Manager after the departure of Gary Mills. This is his first managerial job in professional football.
The Dragons got off to a mixed start in the National League, losing three of their first five matches. Then followed an unbeaten run of eleven games, in which they conceded just three goals. Indeed, they have lost just once in their last sixteen league matches, winning the last three, including the 1-0 victory at home to Solihull Moors on Tuesday that lifted them to the summit for the first time this season.
Keates made wholesale changes in the summer, retaining just five players from last season, including goalkeeper Chris Dunn and winger Paul Rutherford, who scored Tuesday’s winner. There are sixteen new Dragons this term, including an entirely new defence, which has gelled quickly, conceding just twelve league goals in their first twenty one games. The experienced Manny Smith (Gateshead) and Shaun Pearson (Grimsby Town) marshal the back four, with full backs James Jennings (Cheltenham Town) and Kevin Roberts (FC Halifax Town) either side of them. Midfielders Sam Wedgbury and Marcus Kelly joined from promoted Forest Green Rovers and, up top, Wrexham’s goal charts are currently led by Chris Holroyd, who has scored six goals since joining from Macclesfield Town. Six-month loanees Ntumba Massanka (Burnley) and Alex Reid (Fleetwood Town) have chipped in with three goals apiece.
Saturday afternoon will see the ninth meeting between Aldershot Town and Wrexham, with the Shots losing four (including both in the 2015-16 campaign), drawing one and winning three against the Dragons. Last season, The Shot did the double over the Dragons for the first time, winning both matches 2-0. Shamir Fenelon and Scott Rendell grabbed the goals at The EBB Stadium in August 2016 and, six months later, Rendell again and Jim Kellermann notched as Town became the first ever Aldershot team to win at The Racecourse Ground. The previous season saw The Dragons complete a double of their own. In November 2015, Wes York got the only goal of the game at the EBB Stadium, with Jake Gallagher receiving a second-half red card to compound the woes. Three months earlier, the hosts won 3-0 in North Wales thanks to goals from York, James Gray and Dominic Vose’s 90th-minute penalty.
Aldershot Town’s only other victory over Wrexham was a 2-0 home win in September 2013, when Mark Molesley got the opening goal of the game and Jordan Roberts came off the bench to net his first senior goal. The two sides also played out an entertaining 1-1 draw at the same ground in April 2015.
The Welsh side faced Aldershot FC on 34 occasions between 1961 and 1991, and the Dragons had the edge with sixteen wins to Aldershot’s eleven, plus seven further draws. Most of those fixtures occurred in the old Fourth Division, but six games took place in the old Third Division between 1973 and 1976. It’s also worth noting that the Shots had an excellent record at home against Wrexham, winning eleven and drawing three of the seventeen meetings at what is now the EBB Stadium.
Saturday’s referee is Adam Bromley, who has refereed 9 matches so far this season, showing 27 yellow cards and 1 red card to date. He refereed Aldershot Town’s 2-0 victory at Ebbsfleet this season and Wrexham’s 1-0 win at Dagenham & Redbridge. Last season, he took the middle in Aldershot matches twice, including the 1-1 draw at Eastleigh in which he sent off Jim Kellermann.
BBC Surrey’s Rob Worrall and Shots winger Bobby-Joe Taylor will be covering the game on Saturday afternoon, bringing live commentary via the BBC Sport website or the BBC Sport App from 2:50pm. You can also contact them throughout the day via Twitter, @RobShot66 and @bobbyjoetaylor, or posting in the Aldershot Town Fans Facebook Group.