Match Preview: Aldershot v Tranmere Rovers
By Louise Formston
September 1 2016
With the Bank Holiday now behind us, Rovers are on the road again this weekend as they travel to Aldershot. Once again Louise brings us her Match Preview ahead of the game....
After remaining unbeaten throughout the entire month of August, Tranmere travel south to Hampshire as they take on Aldershot Town. Rovers will be looking to extend their stint at the top of the National League Table with another win whilst Aldershot will be looking to cement their place in the play-offs.
Rovers’ trip to The EEB Stadium last season saw Tranmere return with a point as the teams saw out a 0-0 draw. Despite chances for both teams throughout the game, and penalty appeals denied at each end – no one could find a breakthrough. Sort of makes me glad I spent that weekend in Edinburgh instead!
I think we all know Tranmere’s form of late – an unbeaten month racking up six wins and a draw, conceding just three along the way. Whilst the table looks impressive, the performances have been less than thrilling. Rovers have dominated virtually every minute of every game they’ve played this season yet none of their wins have seen total annihilation of the opposition - we are not a free scoring side.
Aldershot have had four wins so far this season with three of them coming at home whilst they’ve lost just two games (Barrow and Braintree). In fact, Aldershot haven’t lost a home game this season, nor have they conceded a goal at home. The Shots sit fifth in the table, but have scored just two goals less than Rovers.
It’s only the first week of September but I’ve already heard Rovers’ fans call at least three games this season as “true tests” with regard to any improvement from last season. I think the phrase applies again to Saturday’s game. With a home form like Aldershot, and Rovers only managing a draw there last season – this will not be an easy game.
The Opposition Dugout:
Gary Waddock was named Aldershot manager for the second time in May 2016, following the conclusion of last season. The 54-year old started his playing career at QPR in 1979 before moving on to Charleroi (Belgium), Millwall and Bristol Rovers. Waddock eventually retired after making over 150 appearances for Luton Town. His first managerial job was caretaker manager of QPR in 2006 after Ian Holloway was suspended. From there, Waddock has managed Aldershot, Wycombe (where he oversaw their promotion to League One) and Oxford United before having another spell as a caretaker manager – this time at Portsmouth last year. His first spell at Aldershot saw him rack up a 48% win rate, win the Conference League Cup on penalties and be named Conference Manager of the Year.
The Shots’ Squad:
30-year old keeper Jake Cole joined the Shots in the summer and has split goalkeeping duties with Mark Smith (another summer arrival) with Waddock yet to settle on a permanent number one. Former Port Vale trainee Cheye Alexander and Callum Reynolds have become the mainstays of Aldershot’s defence this season and they’ll be tasked, along with one of their keepers, with preventing Rovers from becoming the first to score at The EEB Stadium this season.
Tranmere fans might remember Aldershot midfielder Scott Rendell, who signed for the Shots at the start of the summer. Rendell ruptured his cruciate knee ligament playing for Woking at Prenton Park on the first day of the 2015/2016 season and didn’t play again for the remainder of the season. However, Rendell’s showing what he can do, with two goals so far this year.
Another Shots player that Rovers fans might recall is Matt McClure. The striker came on a substitute for Wycombe way back in March 2015, when Rovers were fighting for League Two survival. However McClure’s stay at Prenton Park was short lived, just over a minute later he received a red card for elbowing Adam Dugdale (although I seem to recall some acting from Dugdale’s part) – the red card proved irrelevant as Rovers lost the game 2-1. Former Tranmere loanee Shamir Fenelon signed for Aldershot this season and has scored two in five already this season. After a poor spell at Rovers, Fenelon will be looking to add to his tally no doubt at the weekend.
Going the other way; perhaps former Shots player Adam Mekki will get a chance to show his ex-team exactly what he can do.
Around the League:
Chester vs Forest Green: Local rivals Chester are host to Forest Green this weekend. Chester had a recent upturn in form and hopefully they can prevent FGR from getting any closer to Rovers in the table.
Guiseley vs Braintree: Guiseley remain without a win, and bottom of the table but they’ll be hopeful of scraping at least a draw against Braintree as their form has been improving.
Torquay vs Lincoln City: Lincoln City are Rovers next opponents and they aren’t far behind in the table. They make the long journey south to 15th placed Torquay.
My Starting XI:
Vaughan McNulty Ihiekwe Hughes
Harris S Jennings
Reverting to the team that has won us the most games this season, with one change – Cook out, Mekki in. Whilst I don’t think Mekki is the Messiah, I do think he offers something different and his link up play with Norwood was strong last season. I’ve been told repeatedly that I’m wrong about Connor Jennings and he’s been brilliant so far this season – I’m yet to see him set the pitch alight but I feel bringing him in from the wing and behind the strikers might give him that opportunity.
Vaughan returns to right back. Defensively he can have issues but he gets forward and at least attempts to take on players – something we were crying out for on Bank Holiday Monday. With Vaughan back in the side Maynard returns to midfield and to a position he’s well and truly made his own. Whilst I’d rather have Ridehalgh at LB, Hughes returns there, as his experience is invaluable on the pitch when things get tough and we’re up against nine defenders.
Score Prediction? 2-1 Rovers
August Player of the Month? Maynard.
If my preview isn’t good enough; the local paper in Hampshire has kindly produced an article covering the main things to be aware of before the game this weekend – if someone could pass it onto Brabin that’d be great!
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