Aldershot v FC Halifax Town: Opposition focus

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FC Halifax Town face an Aldershot side still a work-in-progress, according to Steve Gibbs, who has covered them across local and national media for the last 13 years.

Aldershot have won just one of their first four matches - 1-0 at Woking - losing the other three against Fylde (2-1), Solihull (2-1) and Bromley (1-0).

Manager Danny Searle was appointed in May a day after he resigned as Braintree boss and has been a coach in the academies at Chelsea, Charlton and West Ham.

The Shots were relegated from the National League last season, but were handed their place in the division back when Gateshead were demoted.

“Promising in patches but still very much a work-in-progress,” is how Gibbs describes their start to the season, “although Searle has impressed a lot of fans with his openness and attacking ethos.

“Our first four games have all been against teams currently in the top six, and any criticism of a very new and young team should be tempered by that fact, but the team’s inexperience - plus a lack of goals - has still been their undoing.

“Defeat to Bromley on Tuesday night was a stark case in point: they were strong, organised and very savvy in their ‘game management’, whereas The Shots huffed and puffed and fell foul of some wayward long-range finishing.

“Still, if you’re only going to win one of your first four games, you might as well make it in the local derby against Woking.”

Gibbs says ther has been a massive turnover of players at the club over the summer.

“Twelve new signings have been made, alongside the retention of five senior players, and the promotion into the first-team squad of several academy players.

“Centre-back Alex Finney has started in fine form after failing to convince last season, and the same could be said of James Rowe, who missed most of the season after badly cutting his foot on a shard of glass. The likes of Ethan Chislett, Alfy Whittingham and AJ Eyoma appear to have huge potential but cannot be relied upon just yet.

“Former Sunderland striker Connor Shields has started in lively fashion, as has creative midfielder Rowe, who can change a game with one pass if he’s on form.

“Searle has implemented a passing style of play which utilises two wingers in a 4-2-3-1 formation. It’s probably a bit faster and occasionally more direct than under Gary Waddock, but remains good to watch.”

But Gibbs says Aldershot’s inexperience could be a key weakness.

“I fear that bigger, stronger teams could simply bully their way to victory.”

Gibbs added: “Defender Ollie O’Dwyer has missed the last three games with a groin strain after starting impressively in the first match of the season, and fellow centre-back Kodi Lyons-Foster hasn’t yet featured at all.

“Midfielder Jacob Berkeley-Agyepong suffered a slight hamstring strain at Solihull, and missed Tuesday night’s game.”

Likely line up and formation: (4-2-3-1) Walker, Tinkler, Fowler, Finney, Kinsella, Rance, Rowe, Eyoma, Chislett, Shields, Mullings.