Aldershot Town v AFC Fylde Match Preview – Saturday 3rd August 2019
A new era will begin at Aldershot Town FC on Saturday, as new boss Danny Searle takes charge of The Shots for the first time in a competitive match. Following Gateshead FC’s demotion for financial irregularities, the Hampshire club has retained its National League status and will kick off the 2019-20 campaign at The EBB Stadium against title favourites AFC Fylde. BBC Surrey’s Rob Worrall previews the action…
Searle, who will be assisted by former Conference title winner Anwar Uddin and Goalkeeping Coach Dave Blackmore, has pretty much had a ‘blank canvas’ to create his playing squad from, with just two contracted to the club upon his arrival at the EBB. Striker Reece Grant has since moved on to Dagenham & Redbridge, meaning that just Alex Finney remains. Young goalkeeper Ryan Hall and former Ipswich Town defender George Fowler have since also opted to accept new offers made to them by the club prior to Searle’s arrival and the former Braintree boss has elected to award three of last season’s Shots players (James Rowe, Lewis Kinsella and Jacob Berkeley-Agyapong) new contracts. There have been fourteen new arrivals at Aldershot Town including several already established in the National League; Mitch Walker (Dover Athletic), Robbie Tinkler (Gateshead) and Dean Rance (Ebbsfleet United). The new Shots manager has also dipped into the National League South for exciting young talent, in the form of Hungerford Town midfielder Alfie Whittingham and central defender Kodi Lyons-Foster, who returns to The Shots after a spell with Braintree Town. Ollie O’Dwyer (Crystal Palace), Connor Shields (Sunderland), Aaron Eyoma (Derby County), Shamir Mullings (Macclesfield Town) and Brazilian Alefe Santos (Yeovil) have all been signed from EFL clubs. Forward Harry Panayiotou, a St Kitts & Nevis international with 10 goals in 21 appearances, has returned from a spell in Greece to join Searle’s new revolution and last, but not least, another exciting youngster, midfielder Ethan Chislett has joined from Step Three Metropolitan police.
Searle is adamant that there should be a pathway to the first team for Academy players and has backed that up by awarding first team squad numbers to youngsters Harry Woodward (Right Back) and Simba Kudyiwa (Defender).
Name: AFC Fylde
Nickname: The Coasters
Manager: Dave Challinor
Stadium: Mill Farm
2018/19 National League position: 4th (lost in Play-Off Final)
Former Tranmere Rovers, Stockport County and Bury defender Dave Challinor is in charge of The Coasters. Challinor ended his playing career and started his managerial experience at Colwyn Bay, whom he guided to Runners-Up spot in the Northern Premier League in his first season at the helm, eventually gaining promotion to what was the Conference North via the Play-Offs. In November 2011, he was announced as the new manager of AFC Fylde, who at that time, played in the Northern Premier League Division 1 North. His impact was instant, gaining promotion (as Champions) in his first season and then guiding The Coasters to NPL Play-Offs the following season. They lost on that occasion, but gained promotion to the Conference North twelve months later. Competing at National League level for the last two seasons, they have made the play-offs both years and this year will look to go one step further and complete their journey to the Football League.
Challinor has kept ten of last season’s playing squad, including the prolific Danny Rowe, who once again finished as The National League’s top scorer last term. Other key players still at Mill Farm include club captain Lewis Montrose, defender Neil Byrne and England C international midfielder Ryan Croasdale.
Perhaps the most eye-catching of Challinor’s summer signings is former Eastleigh forward Mark Yeates, who ‘Assisted’ more goals than any other National League player last season. If the goals he scored for FC United last season are anything to go by, then exciting young England C striker Kurt Willoughby should help to take some of the goal-scoring pressure off Rowe. Other new faces at Mill Farm include highly rated Stockport County left back Scott Duxbury, FC Halifax Town winger Matty Kosylo and Dunfermline midfielder James Craigen. A measure of Fylde’s financial muscle is that their other four new signings have all dropped down from the EFL to play for The Coasters; Goalkeeper James Montgomery (Forest Green Rovers), Defenders Kyle Jamieson (West Bromwich Albion) and Alex Whitmore (Grimsby Town), plus forward Jordan Williams (Rochdale). Challinor has awarded most of the newcomers two year contracts with a third-year option.
Saturday’s referee is Sam Allison who has been a good omen for the Shots so far, refereeing five Shots games with the Shots winning four, drawing once, scoring 15 times and yet to concede with Allison as the man in the middle. His most recent Shots game was our 0-0 draw against Maidenhead United on New Year’s Day at the EBB Stadium.
BBC Surrey Sport’s Rob Worrall and Aldershot Town Communications Officer Chris Woods will be covering the game live on Saturday afternoon. Tune in to the BBC Sport website, the BBC Sport App or the Red Button on your TV from 2:50pm for full match commentary. To interact with them, tweet @RobShot66 &/or @CWoodsy14.
Saturday’s Match Sponsor is MLI and Ball Sponsor is Steve Brett.