Phil Parkinson’s Altrincham side travel south to face Aldershot Town at the Recreation Ground this weekend, as they look to continue their pursuit for a play-off place.
Following last week’s morale-boosting 1-0 win at home against Woking, Alty were faced with the challenging task of welcoming Hartlepool United to the J. Davidson Stadium, who at the time were level on points with Sutton United and Torquay United at the top of the league.
After striking the post in the 23rd minute, the Monkey Hangers found themselves reduced to ten men, after Lewis Cass was shown a straight red card for a dangerously high challenge on Robins midfielder Matty Kosylo.
However, less than ten minutes later, Hartlepool took the lead through Rhys Oates, after the forward turned Luke Molyneux’s cross past Tony Thompson from close range.
Despite the setback, the Robins found themselves level on the stroke of half time following a mistake from Pools’ ‘keeper Ben Killip who failed to handle Ryan Colclough’s thunderous strike, spilling the ball into his own net at the near post.
The Robins pressed forward in the second half, searching for a second goal against the ten men, with Yusifu Ceesay, Yoan Zouma, and Tom Peers all trying their luck on the Hartlepool goal. However, the visitors were able to hang on, forcing Alty to settle for a point which leaves them unbeaten in their last two games.
You can watch the highlights of that 1-1 home draw by pressing play below.
Following that 1-1 home draw, the Robins still remain 11thin the Vanarama National League table, level on points with Boreham Wood, FC Halifax Town, and Bromley in the three places immediately above them, but having played one more game than the Wood and three more games than FC Halifax and Bromley.
But despite feeling frustrated about not having claimed all three points on Tuesday evening, Phil Parkinson’s side will be happy to see their fortunes taking a turn for the better, with the club now unbeaten in their last two fixtures. This follows a horrific run of form which saw Alty lose five on the bounce, letting their grip on a play-off place slip.
Since their relegation from the Football League in 2013, Aldershot found the going tough to begin with, finishing the next three campaigns in 19th, 18th, and 15th. However, the Shots looked to have turned a corner, making the National League play-offs during the 2016/17 and 2017/18 seasons, ultimately losing to Tranmere Rovers and Ebbsfleet United respectively. Since then, the struggles have resumed, as the Hampshire based club failed to finish above 18th.
Having said that, their form over the last five games shows a side that is full of confidence, winning three times (against Maidenhead United, Wrexham, and Barnet), drawing once (against Stockport County) and losing once (against Solihull Moors). Also, having only played 24 games so far this season, the Shots are well within their rights to believe a promotion push is still on, having played fewer games than Stockport in fourth and Wrexham in fifth.
In their last outing against mid-table Maidenhead United, midfielder Josh Rees, formerly of Bromley and Gillingham, scored an impressive hattrick to help the Shots claim all three points. Striker Ricky Miller had given Aldershot the lead after only six minutes, before two goals from Rees gave the visitors a three-goal lead. The Magpies’ joint top goalscorer Danilo Orsi-Dadomo netted a brace to threaten an unlikely comeback for the hosts, but a third strike from Rees, after teammate Killian Colombie was shown a red card in the 70th minute, was enough to put the game beyond any doubt for our hosts on Saturday.
This weekend’s tie will be the second time we have faced the Shots this season, after suffering a disappointing 2-1 defeat at the J. Davidson Stadium on November 14, 2020. On that occasion, goals from Toby Edser and Chike Kandi gave the visitors a commanding 2-0 lead. Striker Tom Peers scored a goal in the 89th minute, but that proved to be nothing more than a consolation for Alty.
You can watch the highlights of that 2-1 home defeat by pressing play below.
Our opponents this weekend are managed by Danny Searle, who joined the Shots in May 2019 after spending the second half on the previous season with National League South side Braintree Town. He replaced the outgoing Gary Waddock, who went on to spend a brief period with Football League side Southend United as interim manager.
The 41-year-old holds a UEFA Pro Licence and has coached in the Academies of Chelsea, Charlton Athletic, Southend United and lastly, West Ham United where he was their Academy’s Head of Coaching. He joined Braintree in 2018 as Assistant Manager to Hakan Heyrettin and took over as First Team Manager when Heyrettin joined Maidstone in January 2019. In his short tenure in charge of the Iron they beat both Play-Off finalists Salford City and AFC Fylde and drew at the Champions Leyton Orient on the final day of the season.
Since taking over at the Shots, he has brought in the likes of Josh Rees, Ross McCormack, Shadrach Ogie, Giles Phillips, and Ricky Miller to help further the club’s promotion hopes. Currently, Rees is the Shots’ top goalscorer, having scored seven goals from 24 games. However, with the likes of Ricky Miller finding his feet at the Recreation Ground, with one goal from one game, Searle’s side have the strength in depth to mount a late play-off charge.
A win for Altrincham this Saturday could see them climb to up to sixth, above Boreham Wood, FC Halifax Town, Bromley, Eastleigh, and Notts County, depending on results elsewhere. However, a win for Aldershot would see the Shots rewarded with the same prize, showing just how tight the fight for a play-off place has become in the National League this season.
Last five league games
Aldershot Town: WDLWW (F10 A6)
Altrincham: LLLWD (F5 A8)
Watch the game live
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Listen to the game live on Radio Robins
Aldershot Town will not permit Radio Robins to broadcast from The EBB Stadium, therefore Radio Robins, sponsored by Ashley Mowers Garden Machinery will provide a remote broadcast from The J.Davidson Stadium, starting at 2.30pm.
The match commentary sponsor is Andys Man Club.
The commentary team is Paul Salt and Simon Ellis.
You can listen to Radio Robins in any of the following ways:
1) By visiting our Match Centre on the club website
2) Download and install the Mixlr app on Android devices from the Google Play Store - start the app and search for 'Radio Robins'.
3) Download and install the Mixlr app on Apple devices from the Apple Store - start the app and search for 'Radio Robins'.
It was déjà vu for Alty as Chike Kandi came off the bench to score the winning goal, as he had done at The J.Davidson Stadium in October as The Shots completed the double over the Robins, who had recovered from a very poor first half display to dominate after the break, looking the more likely victors until Kandi’s late strike.
Phil Parkinson & Neil Sorvel made 2 changes from Tuesday night’s 1-1 draw with title chasing Hartlepool United, with Tom Peers starting & Josh Hancock returning after a 5 game absence with a knee injury.
Matty Kosylo (quad injury) did not travel & Tom Hannigan returned from his 1 match suspension to take a place on a strong looking bench, along with Connor Hampson, Sean Williams, Byron Harrison & James Hardy.
Both sides started brightly in sunny but blustery conditions with Mo Bettamer firing over in the 6th minute after Miller’s shot had been blocked & Nouble forced a save out of Thompson with an effort from a very tight angle that the Robins keeper tipped over.
The Shots gradually took control of the game with all 3 frontmen, Bettamar, Miller & particularly Nouble causing problems. Altrincham lacked fluidity & the performance was increasingly disjointed with a much higher number of misplaced passes than has been seen in almost all games this season, barring the 2-0 defeat at Yeovil last month.
When the Robins did get forward, they found the wind difficult to deal with & it was almost 40 minutes before there was any threat on The Shots goal, Joel Senior’s decent effort from the best part of 25 yards was not too far away from Ryan Hall’s goal.
Danny Searle’s side broke the deadlock in the 43rd minute as the impressive Joel Nouble worked an opening inside the area before planting a shot across Thompson & into the far corner.
Alty started the 2nd period really brightly hitting the bar, through a thunderous Toby Mullarkey header, following a 46th minute corner & when a 2nd corner was cleared the ball was played in by Colclough & Moult was tripped by Colombie inside the area.It was an easy decision for Jacob Miles to award a penalty & Josh Hancock confidently fired the spot-kick down the middle as Hall dived to his right.
The visitors dominated the majority of the second half, creating a number of opportunities, the best of which fell to Tom Peers who turned a dangerous cross from Colclough over the bar from close range.
As the 2nd period progressed, conditions worsened dramatically & with the wind & the rain at their backs, Aldershot regained a foothold iin the latter stages & it was Kandi, a 71st minute substitute for Ricky Miller, who broke Alty’s hearts, cleverly working an opening to finish very smartly from 15 yards.
Alty poured forward, with only 2 minutes plus added time to play & Tom Peers seemed to be fouled inside the penalty area, only for a freekick to be awarded, rather than a 2nd penalty. Ryan Colclough’s ferocious drive almost went through Ryan Hall’s hands but the young keeper got enough on his save to divert the ball over.