Aldershot Town won consecutive games for the first time since January with Saturday’s outstanding 2-0 victory against Wrexham at the EBB Stadium. Gary Waddock and his side will look to continue their promising start to the season on Tuesday evening as they travel to Bromley, where they won on the last day of 2015-16. BBC Surrey’s Gavin Denison previews the action.
The Shots boss should be delighted with his players’ performances in every area of the field at the weekend, but especially with the improved finishing. After missing several early chances against Maidstone United, Shamir Fenelon’s third-minute goal – after he won possession and played a one-two with Matt McClure – was the perfect start. That’s especially true as it was their only opportunity of the first half. After the break, McClure was denied twice by John Rooney’s goalline clearance and a Chris Dunn save, but in between those was Scott Rendell’s first Aldershot Town goal since April 2005. He turned in Bernard Mensah’s 58th-minute cross from close range to secure the three points. The defence stood firm and Wrexham’s only effort on target was a Martin Riley header that was well saved by Mark Smith.
Even though the 2016-17 campaign is only three games old, Aldershot Town’s defensive solidity has been a very impressive feature of it thus far. No National League side has conceded less than their one goal this season and that came 263 minutes ago at Barrow. It’s also the first time since the autumn of 2014 (2-0 v Lincoln City on 20 September, followed by 2-0 v Alfreton Town on 4 October) that the Shots have won consecutive home league games without conceding a goal. They’ll also be looking to get their first points on the board away from the EBB Stadium on Tuesday, especially after the disappointment of the opening day defeat at Barrow, where they deserved at least a point.
Bromley Football Club was founded in 1892, switching between the Kent, London, Spartan, Athenian and Isthmian League before settling in the latter in 1952. They’ve won three FA Amateur Cups and were Isthmian League winners on four occasions, whilst their promotion via the Play-Offs in 2007 started a run of eight seasons in Conference South. On six consecutive occasions they ended the season between 11th and 17th before a third-place finish in 2013-14 (losing to Ebbsfleet United in the Play-Off semi-final) and the National League South title twelve months later. The Ravens finished 14th with sixty points in their first campaign at a national level, one place and four points above Aldershot Town.
The Ravens actually sat in 4th place in the National League table at the end of October before they slumped to their final position. The former Woking midfielder Neil Smith took charge on 4 February, but his side is currently on a six-game losing streak. Their three defeats this season leave them bottom of the embryonic league table, with the team yet to score a goal in 2016-17 either. All four of the goals they’ve conceded have been in the first half, with two each in the opening ten minutes and the other two after the forty-minute mark. Last season, Bromley struggled defensively, conceding 72 league goals (the same total as the Shots), whilst also putting together the division’s fourteenth-best home record.
Despite the club’s 1-0 defeat at Solihull Moors on Saturday, Smith was pleased with his side’s overall performance. He told the club’s official website after the game: “That’s the best we’ve played so far. There was really good aspects of the game, obviously the goal against after three minutes was a real blow, but the boys were working hard, they created more chances today than they have done this season. We’ve hit the target, they’re blocking and I believe we should have come away with something today… we’ve got to move onto Aldershot, which is another pressurised game because we haven’t won yet, but there were good aspects there today.”
Gary Waddock ended up making four changes to his starting line-up from the win against Maidstone United, but one of those was enforced after goalkeeper Jake Cole suffered back spasms in the prematch warm-up. That meant a Shots debut for 20-year old Mark Smith, which he marked with a clean sheet. There was also a debut for Nick Arnold at left-back in place of Anthony Straker, whilst Will Evans and Bernard Mensah replaced Jack Saville and Iffy Allen, who, like Straker, were named amongst the substitutes. Cole’s injury meant midfielder Josh Wakefield was promoted to the bench and he also made a first Aldershot Town appearance after replacing Scott Rendell in the 86th minute.
Jake Cole and Shamir Fenelon, who limped off in the first half with a hamstring problem, must be considered doubts for the midweek trip to South-East London. However, the only definite absentee will be last season’s top scorer Charlie Walker. Whilst he won’t need surgery after damaging his ankle ligaments in pre-season, he will be unable to take part in any footballing activity for at least a month, meaning it’s looking unlikely that he’ll feature for the first team until mid-October at the earliest.
Neil Smith has managed to keep the vast majority of the key members of his squad together over the summer. The main loss for the manager, and it’s a key one, has been Moses Emmanuel (formerly Ademola). The striker signed for Dover Athletic after top scoring for Bromley last season with twenty goals, although only three came in 2016. Fellow strikers Adam Birchall (retired) and Pierre-Joseph Dubois (Welling United) also left Hayes Lane, whilst midfielder Ali Fuseini has joined Margate. Departing from the defensive corps are Sean Francis (Welling United), Aaron Tumwa (Margate), Ugo Udoji (Tonbridge Angels, season loan) and Paul Rodgers.
The seven arrivals since the end of the 2015-16 campaign include exciting midfielders Blair Turgott (Leyton Orient), Connor Dymond (Crystal Palace) and the former Whitehawk winger Dave Martin. George Porter, who spent last season at Welling United, and Tobi Sho-Silva (Charlton Athletic) have been added to the striking corps, whilst Joe Howe (Ebbsfleet United) and Daniel Johnson (Ryman League Division 1 South side Herne Bay) will provide competition in the defensive third of the pitch. Amongst those players who have returned for Bromley’s second season in the National League are goalkeeper Alan Julian, defenders Rob Swaine, Jack Holland, Ben Chorley and Joe Anderson, midfielder Lee Minshull, Max Porter and Reece Prestedge, plus strikers Adam Cunnington, Bradley Goldberg, Louis Dennis and Alex Wall.
Like Waddock, the Bromley boss saw two of his players go off with injuries on Saturday. Adam Cunnington suffered a back injury, whilst Rob Swaine had a foot problem, and both could be doubts for the visit of the Shots. Meanwhile, Lee Minshull has missed the first three games through injury and is unlikely to feature on Tuesday evening.
Tuesday evening sees the eleventh meeting between these two sides with the Shots winning six, losing twice and drawing twice. Six of those games were in cup competitions with the only two league meetings prior to last season happening in the 1998-99 campaign. In September 1998, Aldershot Town picked up a 1-1 draw away from home thanks to a Gary Abbott goal, whilst the legendary Shots striker also scored in the 3-0 home win three months later. The most recent game took place on the last day of last season, with a Charlie Walker brace and a Sean Francis own goal giving the Shots a 3-1 win in Barry Smith’s last game in charge. Last October at the EBB Stadium, Walker scored again to give the home side the lead in the 38th minute. Jack Holland equalised with a fine goal three minutes later before Jake Gallagher received a second half red card.
Aldershot Town have won three, drawn one and lost one of their five visits to Hayes Lane. Their prior wins came in the Fourth Qualifying Round of the FA Cup in October 2005 (Tim Sills scoring the only goal of the game) and in the first leg of the Isthmian League Cup Semi-Final in March 1999, with the Shots winning 3-1 in South-East London. They ended up winning 4-3 on aggregate before Aldershot Town beat Boreham Wood to win the trophy. In addition to the 1-1 league draw mentioned above, Bromley also won 3-1 in a Ryman League Full Members Cup tie in October 1999.
Tuesday evening’s referee is David Rock from Hertfordshire, who took charge of the Shots’ 2-1 home defeat to Boreham Wood in April, as well as the 5-2 drubbing at Dover Athletic last December. So far, this season he’s officiated in two National League fixtures, showing five yellow cards and no red cards.
BBC Surrey’s Gavin Denison and Rob Worrall of the Aldershot Town media team will be covering the game on Tuesday evening. Tune in to the BBC Sport website from 7.35pm for full match commentary.
You can also contact us throughout the evening via Twitter. Tweet your predictions and thoughts on the game to @bbcsurreysport and @GavinDenison