Aldershot Town dropped a place to 7th in the National League after Saturday’s confounding goalless draw at Torquay United. Their good form on the road will face another stiff test on Tuesday evening as they take on recently-relegated, promotion-chasing Dagenham & Redbridge. BBC Surrey’s Gavin Denison previews the action.
It’s quite rare in recent Shots history that the fans have seen their team so utterly dominate a game, but come away with just one point. The undoubted man-of-the match was Gulls keeper Brendan Moore, who made a number of outstanding saves. He denied Bernard Mensah on four occasions in the first half (two of which were excellent stops), he saved well from Matt McClure twice in the opening seven minutes of the second period, as well as saving from Shamir Fenelon with ten minutes to go. Scott Rendell had a good opportunity in either half, but McClure came the closest to breaking the deadlock after hitting the post in the 89th minute. The hosts had fewer chances at the other end, with Jamie Reid forcing a pair of routine saves from Jake Cole, whilst Brett Williams twice failed to capitalise after getting in good positions.
As mentioned, the Shots’ record away from the EBB Stadium has been very solid this season, and overall is the 12th best in the National League. After losing two of their first three on the road, Aldershot Town are unbeaten in their last five away games. That run includes wins at Dover Athletic and York City, plus draws at Boreham Wood, Southport and Torquay United, with only three goals conceded in that sequence. Although they didn’t score on Saturday, the team has distinct patterns when they do score. Eight of their 21 goals in all competitions have come in the opening thirty minutes, whilst ten have come in the last half-an-hour. Meanwhile, eight of the Shots’ last twelve goals have come after the 60 minute mark.
Dagenham & Redbridge were formed in 1992 via a merger of Dagenham and Redbridge Forest, which itself was an amalgamation of the Ilford, Leytonstone and Walthamstow Avenue clubs. The new side took Redbridge Forest’s place in what is now the National League, with the Daggers going into the Football League for the first time as champions of the division in 2007. Their nine Football League campaigns included a one year stint in League One in 2010-11 (they’d been promoted via the play-offs after finishing 7th in the previous season) where they finished 21st. The Daggers suffered another relegation last season as they finished 23rd in League Two with 34 points, nine points from safety.
The East London club have bounced back in 2016-17, sitting 2nd in the National League with 32 points from sixteen games so far. They’ve won six and lost one of their last nine games in all competitions, whilst they’re unbeaten in their last five games at Victoria Road since going down to a 2-0 defeat against Boreham Wood at the beginning of September. They have the eighth-best home record in the division, whilst no-one can better their tally of just three home league coals conceded this season. Only four teams have scored more than their 26 league goals, but only two of those have come in their last quartet of league fixtures. However, they’ve also only conceded two goals in that sequence.
John Still, who started this third stint in charge of the East London side in January of this year, wasn’t overly happy with Saturday’s 1-1 home draw with Macclesfield Town. He told the Barking and Dagenham Post after the game: “I thought that it was a fair result, it was a good, competitive game and I felt we never made the most of the opportunities we had. Jordan Maguire-Drew had two great chances that he’d normally finish, but both keepers did not have much to do… We probably haven’t played as well today as we have done on occasions, but we could have done with a bit more zip on the pitch as it was a little dry… Our squad is (also) not the biggest at the moment, we have lots of players that are out.”
For the second game in a row, Gary Waddock made five changes to his starting line-up for the trip to Torquay United on Saturday. Jake Gallagher returned from suspension to replace Jim Kellermann, who started his own ban, whilst Josh Wakefield also came into midfield for Iffy Allen. Scott Rendell (thigh strain) and Jake Cole (hamstring) returned from injuries to replace Matt McClure and Mark Smith respectively, whilst Cheye Alexander came back in for Nick Arnold at right-back. For Alexander, it marked his 63rd straight league start for Aldershot Town. Ex-Daggers forward McClure, Allen and Charlie Walker all came off the bench at Plainmoor and could be options for Waddock if he chooses to rotate his first eleven on Tuesday evening.
Centre back Will Evans could also come in to face Dagenham & Redbridge having completed the three-game suspension for his red card earlier this month against Forest Green Rovers, whilst Kellermann will serve the second game of his three-match ban on Tuesday evening. The game in East London could come too soon for Chelsea loanee Dion Conroy, who’s missed the last three fixtures with the badly cut foot he suffered in training earlier this month.
As you’d expect after a relegation campaign, John Still made a number of changes to his playing staff over the summer. Sixteen players left the club, including joint nine-goal top scorers Christian Doidge (Forest Green Rovers) and Jamie Cureton (Farnborough, then Eastleigh). Fellow forwards Ashley Chambers (Grimsby Town, five goals), Ashley Hemmings (Mansfield Town, five goals) and Joss Labadie (Newport County, five goals) remained in the Football League, whilst Matt McClure moved to the Shots after netting five goals in 24 appearances. Midfielder Jodi Jones joined Coventry City, goalkeeper Liam O’Brien signed for Portsmouth and defenders Justin Hoyte, Josh Passley, Matt Richards, Jack Connors (Ebbsfleet United) and Ian Gayle (Braintree Town) also left the club. Amongst those who remained with the Daggers were former Shots midfielder Luke Guttridge (fourteen goals in 80 games between June 2010 and January 2012), fellow midfielders Andre Boucaud (thirteen scoreless appearances on loan at the Shots in 2005) and Frankie Raymond, striker Oliver Hawkins (ten league goals so far this season), back-up goalkeeper Mark Cousins and defenders Joe Widdowson and Luke Pennell.
The Daggers boss has seen the same amount of players arrive at the club since relegation, including the return of centre back Scott Doe and midfielder Luke Howell from fellow National League side Boreham Wood. Still also snapped up four players from former club Luton Town, with goalkeeper Elliot Justham, defender Curtley Williams, midfielder Matt Robinson and veteran striker Paul Benson arriving at Victoria Road. He strengthened his attacking options with the captures of Jordan Maguire-Drew (six goals in all competitions since signing on loan from Brighton & Hove Albion until January), Fejiri Okenabirhie (Harrow Borough), Corey Whitely (Enfield Town), Shomari Barnwell (Bowers & Pitsea) and Christian Assombalonga (Waltham Abbey), whilst midfielder Scott Heard signed from Folkestone Invicta last week. Defenders Craig Robson (Bognor Regis Town), Sam Ling (Leyton Orient) and Josh Staunton (Charlton Athletic) have also arrived since the end of last season.
Unfortunately for Still, both Okenabirhie and Robson went off injured on Saturday, so must be doubts to face the Shots. Guttridge (hamstring), Benson (intercostal muscle injury), Williams (knee) and Pennell also missed that game through injury, so may not be available on Tuesday.
Tuesday evening will see the 24th meeting between Aldershot Town and the Daggers, with both sides having ten wins apiece, with a further three draws. The two teams last met in the 2012-13 season, with the Shots’ last Football League victory coming against Dagenham & Redbridge on 20 April at the EBB Stadium. Michael Rankine netted the only goal of the game. Six months earlier, the two sides had played out a goalless draw in East London. Overall, Aldershot Town have won three and drawn two of their last six games against the Daggers, with that one defeat coming in a 3-2 home loss in February 2010. The previously mentioned goalless draw is the only one in the history of this fixture, with the 77 goals coming at a rate of 3.35 per game.
The ten games at Victoria Road have seen four Shots wins, five defeats and one draw. The aforementioned goalless offering in October 2012 was preceded by a pair of remarkable 5-2 victories for Aldershot Town in December 2009 and October 2011 (Jermaine McGlashan scoring twice just three days before the Manchester United League Cup tie). A Gary Abbott goal gave Aldershot Town a 1-0 victory in a Ryman League Premier Division game in December 1998, whilst an Adam Miller brace helped the visitors to a 3-2 triumph on Boxing Day 2003. The last Shots loss on this ground came in April 2009, when a Danny Hylton screamer was merely a consolation goal in a 3-1 defeat.
Tuesday evening’s referee is Rob Whitton from Essex, who took charge of five Aldershot Town games in the 2015-16 campaign – the away wins at Boreham Wood and Welling United, the home victory over FC Halifax Town and the home defeats against Cheltenham Town and Barrow. So far this season, he’s officiated in ten National League fixtures, showing 35 yellow cards and one red card.
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