FC Halifax Town v Aldershot: Opposition focus

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FC Halifax Town host an Aldershot side on Saturday who would gladly take a point at The Shay, according to Steve Gibbs, a journalist who has covered every Shots match this season.

Tuesday night’s 3-0 defeat to Solihull Moors means Aldershot’s new club-record winless run has now reached 17 games, with The Shots languishing in 22nd place in the National League.

“The team are in awful form,” says Gibbs. “This week’s two games, against Eastleigh and Solihull, have summed it up nicely, with defensive mistakes, a stodgy midfield and missed chances adding up to more horribly flat performances. On Tuesday, they mustered just one shot on target in 90 minutes.

“The problems started this time last year with a raft of January signings that didn’t really work and, having been second in February, the team ended up limping into and then out of the Play-Offs with defeat to Ebbsfleet United.

“After something of a rebuild over the summer, this season has been blighted by a massive injury list and under-performing players, with the majority of positions refilled by a downgrade on last year’s incumbents.

“Gary Waddock’s teams have long been known for their stylish, attacking football, but 2018-19 has been one-dimensional and dysfunctional, particularly away from home where the lack of cohesion and creativity has been glaring.”

When asked if Waddock was under pressure, Gibbs said: “I’m not sure that the Board of Directors have either the money or courage to fire Gary Waddock. However, I think he is more likely to resign than be sacked, and in Tuesday night’s post-match press conference he sounded as defeated as I have ever heard him.

“He has now used 31 players this season, and brought in seven new signings since our last victory in November, but performances are not improving. His previous achievements at the EBB Stadium – with two Play-Off campaigns in the last two years, plus 2008’s glorious promotion to the Football League – have rightly bought him more time and goodwill than virtually anybody else would enjoy, but views are starting to harden amongst many supporters.”

Gibbs said attacker Bernard Mensah’s return on loan from Bristol Rovers has been one of very few bright moments in the last couple of months.

“He has scored two goals in three games, including the header which earned a deserved point at Dagenham in our last away game, and if the team are to survive in the National League it will surely be his inspiration which proves crucial.”

Aldershot will come to The Shay with far from a full-strength squad.

“Nobody has really staked a claim to be indispensable this season, but the absences of centre-back George Fowler and striker Scott Rendell, both due to lengthy injuries, have been felt more than most,” Gibbs added.

“Club captain Karleigh Osborne left last week after playing just seven games. It also appears as though left-back Lewis Kinsella will now be out for a period after suffering medial ligament damage on Saturday. Other players remain on the sidelines, including Shamir Fenelon, James Rowe and Jacob Berkeley-Agyepong, but all had flattered to deceive before their injuries.”

Likely line-up and formation: 4-3-3 - Mannion, Bernard, Menayese, Elokobi, Finney, Booty, Howell, McDonnell, Mensah, Rendell, Goddard.