“The events of this week will have boosted morale” - Aldershot v FC Halifax Town: Opposition Focus
We spoke to Steve Gibbs, who has covered Aldershot across local and national media for over a decade, for the lowdown on FC Halifax Town’s opponents on Saturday.
How have Aldershot started the season?
In tumultuous fashion. The sacking of Danny Searle perhaps wasn’t a surprise after five straight defeats - including three at home - but his departure on Monday morning still raised a few eyebrows given that it followed four points from six on the road in the last week. The return of two Shots heroes, in new manager Mark Molesley and assistant Terry Brown, will certainly give the EBB Stadium a much-needed lift this Saturday.
In what shape do they come into Saturday’s game in terms of mood and morale?
The events of this week will have boosted morale in the dressing room and on the terraces but there might also be some bittersweetness in the timing of Searle’s departure given the upturn in victory against Southend and draw with Wealdstone. Most evidence, though, suggests that this is a very young and sparse squad which has failed to match the quality of last season’s. Molesley has seen several Shots matches this season so will be under no illusions as to the challenge which faces him.
Who will be your dangermen on Saturday and why?
AFC Wimbledon loanee Corie Andrews has five goals in seven games and has rapidly become Aldershot Town’s main hope. Alongside him in attack, Mo Bettamer’s return from injury has been long awaited to provide extra firepower.
What’s Aldershot’s style of play, what can Halifax expect to come up against?
Searle had introduced a new wing-back system in the summer but Molesley’s preferred formation seems to be a back four, and he will probably want to play a higher-tempo, more attacking style, so that may change.
Who have your summer signings been and which ones could make the biggest impact?
Seven new signings arrived at the EBB Stadium, along with the promotion of seven Academy players to the first-team squad. Andrews, although raw, has hit the ground running with a strong work-ethic and eye for goal. Imposing centre-back Kevin Lokko could have an equally telling impact in holding together a new-look defence. In truth, though, Searle’s recruitment was largely modest.
What are the expectations for the team this season?
Initially, expectations centred on progress from last season’s 15th-place finish but that was quickly modified to merely avoiding relegation. The squad was rebuilt with a reduced budget so boardroom expectations may have privately been lowered.
Do you think the change in manager could see an immediate improvement in performance against Halifax?
Four points in two away games had been an improvement for Searle but the home defeats had been largely timid affairs with little sign of any grandstand finishes. The least Molesley will expect is a rousing, rambunctious performance, regardless of the result.
Lokko pulled-up in the warm-up before The Shots’ last home game, against Solihull Moors, and has missed the last two matches. Wassim Aouachria, on loan from Charlton, is having to be managed carefully as he continues his return from long-term injury so may not yet be fit for 90 minutes.
Likely line-up and formation?
I don’t think Molesley will have many options available to him so is unlikely to make sweeping changes in his first game in charge.
3-5-2: Walker; Fowler, Phillips, Lyons-Foster; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Whittingham, Edser, Harris, Kinsella; Andrews, Bettamer.
Follow all the action from Saturday’s game on our live blog on the Courier website, where there will also be an on-the-whistle match report and post-match reaction from Town boss Pete Wild.