Shots – Welling United match preview – 14 February 2015
Caretaker boss Chris Barker’s first game in charge last weekend ended in an all-too-familiar 1-0 defeat for the Shots. The loss continued their woeful run of form in the last two months, but this weekend’s fixture against Welling United is the first of three consecutive games against teams currently below them in the Conference table. BBC Surrey’s Gavin Denison previews the action.
Despite the change in manager, the story from last Saturday’s trip to Altrincham could have come from any of Andy Scott’s final few games in charge. Chances were missed, whilst poor defending from a set-piece led to the only goal deflecting in off the unfortunate Barker. For the eleventh time in thirteen games, Aldershot Town failed to score first, with Andre McCollin shooting over in the opening 20 seconds before Jordan Roberts hit the crossbar. After the Robins made the breakthrough, the visitors upped their game, but Josh Scott and Roberts were denied by fine late saves from Stuart Coburn. There wasn’t a lot between the two sides, but the Shots were once again ruing their lack of quality in the final third.
The defeat stretched Aldershot Town’s run to five straight defeats since the turn of the year, a run which has seen just one goal, whilst they’ve only managed three points from their last possible 30 in the Conference. Altrincham’s 74th-minute goal also means that an extraordinary 46% of the goals conceded by Aldershot Town have come after the 65th minute. The club’s home form also needs to improve if Chris Barker’s side are to climb away from the drop zone. They’ve lost five consecutive league games at the Electrical Services Stadium since a 2-0 win over Nuneaton Town on 15 November, which was also the last time the Shots kept a clean sheet.
There aren’t many better ways for a club to celebrate its fiftieth anniversary than with a promotion, and that’s exactly what Welling United did by winning the 2012-13 Conference South title. That triumph returned the club to the level it had last graced in 1999-2000, when the Wings were relegated after fourteen consecutive seasons in the non-league top-flight. Following that relegation, they spent four campaigns in the Southern League Premier Division, before becoming founder members of the Conference South, where they stayed for nine seasons. Last season saw the Wings finish sixteenth in the Conference, nine points above the relegation places.
The club suffered the shock of losing manager Jamie Day to local rivals Ebbsfleet United in December, with former Grays Athletic boss Jody Brown taking over after the Wings’ win over the Shots later that month. Speaking to the club’s official website, Welling’s chief executive Barrie Hobbins commented: “In Jody, the Board were unanimous in their view that we have an ambitious, young and hungry manager who has earned his spurs over the last ten years plus coaching and managing both at Academies and steadily rising through the non-leagues. He impressed us with his desire and passion to manage at this level, and he shares our belief that whilst the realities of Welling United are that we do not have a big budget, this need not be a bar to organic progression.”
However, Welling United’s league form has slumped dramatically since Brown’s arrival, losing six (including all five in 2015) and drawing one of the seven games under his stewardship. Those fixtures have also seen the Kent side concede an astonishing nineteen goals. They now sit 19th in the Conference table, just below Aldershot Town on goal difference, and a mere two points above the relegation zone. Only Dartford and Nuneaton Town have worse away records in 2014-15 than the Wings’ ten points from sixteen games, whilst they’ve lost their last three league outings on the road against Dover Athletic, Forest Green Rovers and Macclesfield Town.
In his first game in charge, Chris Barker made one change with Andre McCollin lining up alongside Brett Williams in preference to Ryan Jarvis, Josh Scott and MK Dons loanee Kabongo Tshimanga. However, all three came off the bench (for Tshimanga it was an Aldershot Town debut) in the closing stages to decent effect and must be in contention for a starting berth on Saturday. Another loanee, Portsmouth’s Danny East, was scheduled to return to his parent club earlier this week, but the caretaker boss was able to secure his signature for another month. East should continue on the right-hand side of midfield, where he’s formed a good partnership with right-back Jaydon Gibbs.
Barker had just sixteen fit players for the game at Moss Lane and, barring any new arrivals, that may well be the case for the visit of Welling United. However, midfielders Damon Lathrope, who’s been out for the last four months with a groin problem, and Mark Molesley, who’s missed the last eight games with an Achilles injury, should be available for selection towards the end of February.
There weren’t too many changes over the summer, but the Wings did lose some key players from last season’s Conference Premier campaign. Seventeen-goal top scorer Ross Lafayette joined newly-promoted Luton Town, whilst fellow striker Kurtis Guthrie signed for Forest Green Rovers. Midfielders Lee Clarke and Loick Pires signed for St Albans City, whilst Jack Obersteller also moved on from Park View Road and Blaine Hudson returned to Cambridge United. This season’s top scorer, Harry Beautyman (eleven goals) left the Wings to join Peterborough United in October, whilst nine-goal loanee striker Tyrone Marsh has returned to Oxford United. Last year’s first-choice goalkeeper Lee Butcher departed the club in September to concentrate on his full-time job. Amongst those who have remained at the club were full-back Loui Fazakerley, midfielders Jake Gallagher and Joe Healy, plus youngsters Joey Taylor, Barney Williams and Sam Corne.
Following the end of last season, the Wings defence was strengthened with the arrival of Chris Bush (Hereford United), Jamal Fyfield (Grimsby Town) and Ben Jefford (Port Vale), whilst ex-Arsenal youngster Zac Fagan has adapted well to a defensive central midfield role. Forwards Kieron St Aimie (Chelmsford City) and Charlie Penny (Millwall) have impressed sporadically thus far, whilst former Shots loanee Jonny Henly (ten appearances in November and December 2013) has been a regular in goal since joining on loan from Reading. Since Jody Brown took charge in December, however, there have been ten new arrivals. Centre-back Darren Purse (Chesham United), former Shots winger Glen Little (Grays Athletic) and midfielder Karl Duguid (Stanway Rovers, ex-Colchester United) all add vast experience to the young squad, but a fourth, former Luton Town and QPR striker Rowan Vine, left the club earlier this week. Also arriving at Park View Road have been defender Joseph Zerafa (Grays Athletic), midfielders Dominic Vose (Colchester United) and Josh Carmichael (Bournemouth), plus forwards Reece Harris (East Thurrock United), Anthony Jeffrey (Wycombe Wanderers) and Jason Williams (rest-of-season loan from Southend United), who scored on his debut at Macclesfield Town on Saturday.
The Welling United boss will definitely be without Jeffrey on Saturday after the youngster was sent off on his debut last weekend, whilst Jake Gallagher is serving the second game of a five-match ban for picking up a third red card of the campaign last month.
Saturday afternoon sees just the fourth meeting between Aldershot Town and Welling United, with the three previous games all being won by the home side. The most recent game took place on 20 December, with the Wings winning 3-1. Dan Fitchett missed a couple of excellent chances in the opening five minutes, before Tyrone Marsh and Kieron St Aimie netted for the hosts. Glenn Wilson scored his first goal for the club with 25 minutes left, before Marsh notched his second of the game to secure all three points.
Last season’s game at Park View Road saw Alex Dyer’s fifteenth-minute goal being the difference between the two sides, but the Shots got a measure of retribution at the Electrical Services Stadium three-and-a-months later. On 28 December, Welling United took the lead five minutes into the second half, but had defender Blaine Hudson sent off in the 66th minute. The hosts took full advantage, scoring three unanswered goals through Brett Williams and a brace from Millwall loanee Aidan O’Brien.
Saturday afternoon’s referee is Nigel Lugg from Surrey, who took charge of the Shots’ 2-1 home defeat against AFC Telford United last month, as well as the 1-1 draw at Dartford in October 2014. So far this season, he’s refereed eleven Conference games, showing 49 yellow cards and four red cards.
BBC Surrey’s Gavin Denison and Shots Trust vice-chairman Stuart Griffiths will be covering the game on Saturday afternoon. Tune in to 104.0 & 104.6 FM for team news just after 2pm, followed by pre-match interviews and full match commentary via the BBC Surrey website at 2.55pm.
We also want your thoughts on how you think the Shots will do against the Wings. Let us know on the day via the following methods:
Text: 81333 (please start your text with the word ‘Radio’)
Plus, we want your reaction to the game between 5pm and 6pm on Saturday in ‘The Final Whistle’. Win, lose or draw, we want to hear from you throughout this season. Call us on 03459 57 00 57 and let your voice be heard.