Aldershot Town v Solihull Moors – Match Preview – Saturday 2 September 2017
Aldershot Town’s 0-0 draw at Eastleigh on Bank Holiday Monday was enough to keep them in 5th place in the early-season National League table. However, whilst it was certainly a point gained – given the adversity of the first-half sending off of Kodi Lyons-Foster and the loss of two further players to injury – it also saw The Shots run without a league win stretch to four matches.
Rob Worrall previews the action…
Monday’s game proved to be one of high attrition for Town. Lyons-Foster’s 34th minute red card came with an automatic three-match suspension. Both Manny Oyeleke (hamstring) and Nick Arnold (knee) await news on how serious their respective injuries are. They join Will Evans (toe), Will de Havilland (knee) and Bernard Mensah (tendon) on the sidelines. Manager Gary Waddock will have to wait to see if Jake Gallagher recovers from illness in time to be considered for the Solihull Moors game. Meanwhile, with so many players unavailable to him, Waddock has turned to the loan market and once again to Mick McCarthy at Ipswich Town to secure both Adam McDonnell (20-year-old midfielder) and George Fowler (19-year old defender) for the next month.
Opposition – Solihull Moors FC
Founded: 2007 (as a result of the merger of Moor Green and Solihull Borough)
Nickname: The Moors
Ground: Damson Park, aka Automated Technology Group Stadium
Manager: Liam McDonald
Moors began in the Conference North in season 2007-08, with the nucleus of the Moor Green squad which secured survival with a seventeenth-place finish. Similar finishing positions were obtained over the next two seasons and then, in 2010-11, they finished seventh. Marcus Bignot then took over the reins, following the death of Bob Faulkner, who had managed the side (and previously Moor Green) for twenty-five years in total. Another season of survival followed, before ninth and eighth place finishes saw them just miss out on the Play-Offs. In 2015-16, Bignot steered Moors to the Conference North title and promotion to The National League. After guiding his team to a steady start, Bignot left the club in October 2016 to become manager of Grimsby Town and current boss Liam McDonald took over. A dangerous late slide down the league table caused a relegation scare, but McDonald secured consecutive wins to see out the season and Moors attained their highest-ever finish – sixteenth in the National League.
Thirty-one-year-old Liam McDonald was appointed Solihull Moors manager on 14 November 2016 after joining the club from Hednesford Town, where the highly-rated manager had guided The Pitmen to the top of the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League.
Prior to that, he spent three years rebuilding Redditch United into Evo-Stik Southern Premier League promotion contenders in his first managerial role. In his first two seasons in charge, The Reds finished tenth and sixth respectively, lifting the Worcestershire Senior Cup in the former, before ending the 2015-16 campaign second, only to agonisingly lose out to Leamington in the play-offs.
McDonald began his playing career at Worcester City, amassing nearly 100 games, before turning out for Hednesford, Barwell, Kettering Town and Tamworth, where he was a member of The Lambs’ famous run to the FA Cup third round proper. He eventually arrived at Redditch where he hung up his playing boots to take up management at the age of 27.
McDonald lost six players at the end of last season, including forwards Harry White (Chester), Omari Sterling-James (Mansfield Town) and his Captain and Player of the Year, Liam Daly (Kidderminster Harriers). However, this week centre-back Daly has returned to the club to bolster the manager’s defensive options. McDonald released two other players, retaining just nine of last season’s squad, including striker Oladapo Afolayan, England C midfielder George Carline and goalkeeper Nathan Vaughan, who scored the winner at Torquay United last weekend! The Moors boss has added more than twenty players to his part-time playing squad for the 2017-18 season – more than any other National League club. The pick of the new arrivals are former Birmingham City and Forest Green Rovers midfielder Darren Carter and striking pair Luke Benbow and Chris Lait, who formed a prolific partnership at Stourbridge last season.
Whilst The Shots come into the game without a win in four matches, The Moors have secured just one win so far this season, the 2-1 away victory at bottom side Torquay United last Saturday. Solihull sit 23rd in the National League, with four points from their six matches played to date. Their opening day fixture at home to Chester was postponed due to safety and security matters, for which the club has since been fined. They’ve lost to Leyton Orient (3-1), Borehamwood (4-1) Halifax (1-0) and Tranmere Rovers (2-0) with their only other point gained coming in the 3-3 home draw against Barrow AFC.
The two side have met just twice – both last season, with The Shots winning both games 2-0. Second-half strikes from Shamir Fenelon and Scott Rendell secured a win for Town at the EBB Stadium last October, whilst two Kundai Benyu goals at Damson Park were enough to bring them home at what was last season’s annual ‘Tour of Duty’ game for Shots supporters.
Saturday’s referee is Daniel Middleton, who is in his first season refereeing at National League level. He has currently shown 10 yellow cards and no red cards in the four matches he has taken the middle in to date.
BBC Surrey Sport’s Rob Worrall and Shots forward Bernard Mensah will be covering the game live on Saturday afternoon. Tune in to the BBC Sport website (or the BBC Sport App) from 2.50pm for full match commentary. To interact with them, tweet @RobShot66 and @Mensah_23