Aldershot Town v Torquay United match preview – Saturday 8 April 2017
Last Saturday’s 2-0 win at Solihull Moors was The Shots’ fourth consecutive victory. They were totally dominant from start to finish at Damson Park, and the three points kept Town in fifth place, with less than a month of the National League season left to be played.
Rob Worrall previews the action…
Having had his youth loan from Ipswich Town extended to a fifth month, Kundai Benyu celebrated in fine style, scoring a goal in each half to double his tally for the club to four. Spurred on by the support of 725 travelling fans, the Shots turned on the style and put in a high-tempo performance that was, at times, breathtaking. In truth, the victory could and probably should have been by a far bigger margin: Town had eighteen efforts on goal all told. Shamir Fenelon alone could have had a first-half hat-trick, had his finishing been as impressive as his movement. Opportunities came and went for eight other Shots players, including substitutes Manny Oyeleke (making his third Shots debut) and Matt McClure, both of whom fired at goal within thirty seconds of being on the pitch. The Shots were equally impressive in defence, with skipper Callum Reynolds and Will Evans dominant throughout and goalkeeper Jake Cole stopping the one shot on target that Moors produced in a fruitless ninety minutes for the home side.
Manager Gary Waddock made just the one change from the previous weekend’s 2-0 victory in Macclesfield. Fenelon came back into the starting eleven, allowing Idris Kanu a much-needed rest from the match-day squad. Cheye Alexander returned to the bench, having missed the previous match following the head injury he sustained against Dagenham & Redbridge a week earlier. Along with Oyeleke and McClure, Dom Hyam also came on towards the end of the match as Waddock took the opportunity to freshen things up and rest key players for the battles that lie ahead. Alexander, who has more appearances than any other Shots player over the last two seasons, and McClure will be hoping for a recall against the Gulls, but the competition for places in Waddock’s starting eleven is really hotting-up now, with 19 players fit and available for selection – more than at any stage this season. Only Liam Bellamy, who is back in light training following knee ligament surgery, is certain to miss out.
Formed in 1899, it took Torquay United 28 years to initially reach the Football League, and that’s where they stayed until their first relegation from League Two in 2007. The Gulls were promoted two years later (one year after The Shots) and managed to reach the League Two play-offs in consecutive seasons. In 2011, they lost 1-0 to Stevenage in the final at Wembley, whilst twelve months later they lost 4-1 on aggregate to Cheltenham Town in a Play-Off semi-final. They finished bottom of the Football League again in 2013-14, five points from safety, before a 13th-place finish in 2014-15. Last season, they slumped to an 18th-place finish, just three points above the National League relegation zone.
Currently player-managed by Kevin Nicholson, The Gulls again find themselves in a battle at the wrong end of the table and sit 21st coming into this game, with 43 points from 41 games. They are within two points of Braintree Town (19th) and one of Woking (20th) and still have all to play for over the final five matches. United have won just four matches of their 20 on the road this season, but are unbeaten in their last four away games, with two wins and two draws.
Most Apps: Keeper Brendan Moore, Sean McGinty and Nathaniel Rowe-Turner are all ever present with 41 league appearances.
Most Goals: Brett Williams and Dan Sparkes both have six league goals to date.
Key Player: Gulls ‘stopper’ Brendan Moore was outstanding against The Shots down at Plainmoor, making more than half a dozen key saves to ensure a clean sheet and a point for Torquay.
Aldershot Town and Torquay United have faced each other on sixteen previous occasions, with the Shots having the edge by seven wins to five, plus four draws. Back in October, Waddock’s team were thwarted almost single-handedly by Gulls keeper Brendan Moore (see above). 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 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 match referee is Robert Whitton, who has taken charge of 19 National League matches this season, showing 52 yellow cards and 1 red. He has previously refereed Aldershot Town twice this term and the Shots lost both matches 1-0, away to Dagenham & Redbridge in October and at home to Eastleigh in November.
BBC Surrey’s Rob Worrall and ex-Shots goalkeeper Nikki Bull will be covering the game on Saturday afternoon. Tune-in to the BBC Sport website from 2.50pm 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.