Aldershot Town v Boreham Wood
Tuesday 31st January 2023, 7.45pm
EBB Stadium, Vanarama National League

The Wood round off an improved month with a trip to Hampshire, where they will take on Aldershot Town in a rearranged fixture looking to make it two wins in a row for the first time since October.

IN FOCUS: ALDERSHOT TOWN

Aldershot Town have spent the bulk of their history in the non-league, but they did enjoy a stint of five successive seasons in League Two more than a decade ago. Unfortunately, a bottom place finish in 2013 saw them return to the Conference and they have had a tough time of it ever since, being on track for a fifth bottom-half finish in a row. This comes after consecutive seasons of hope for the Shots, who twice reached the play-offs only to be knocked out at the eliminator round in 2016/17 and 2017/18, and should have been relegated after the latter if it weren’t for financial problems at Gateshead. They began to regain some control with successful survival campaigns over the last three seasons, and although they have struggled for consistency this time around, come into Tuesday night’s fixture a little more upbeat with a five-game unbeaten streak.

The Shots have overseen wholesale changes throughout not only their squad but in the dugout as well, with Mark Molesley being relieved of his duties after a little over a year at the EBB Stadium. Interim boss Terry Brown took over proceedings for a week before academy manager Ross McNeilly was given the job, and took over a side who have had to adapt to a number of arrivals in the summer. This includes Weymouth trio Josh McQuoid, Ollie Harfield and Tyler Cordner along with the likes of Inih Effiong, Frank Vincent and Joe Partington joining from fellow National League clubs, offering experience alongside Ryan Glover, Luca Ashby-Hammond, Faysal Bettache and Ody Alfa who have joined on loan from AFC Bournemouth, Fulham and QPR respectively. Additionally, Effiong’s 14 goals this season betters only former Motherwell striker Justin Amaluzor in the scoring ranks, who has notched seven goals of his own and led the way before the former’s recent scoring run.

LAST TIME OUT

Aldershot Town 1-1 Oldham Athletic
Saturday 28th January 2023
Vanarama National League

Inih Effiong kept up his goalscoring form against Oldham Athletic, but it wasn’t enough to seal victory as Mike Fondop’s second half volley rescued a point for the relegation battlers.

Oldham made the brighter start of the two sides but were unable to force a way through the Aldershot defence in the opening exchanges, although Luca Ashby-Hammond was forced into a brilliant acrobatic save when a free kick delivered to the back post was headed goalwards. The Shots withstood the early Oldham pressure and began to take control, eventually taking the lead on the half-hour mark with a little help from the post, when Effiong beat Magnus Norman with a curling effort from the edge of the box after Justin Amaluzor did some fantastic work to wrestle the ball away from Jordan Clarke. Ryan Glover almost doubled the Shots’ lead minutes later after another piece of good work from Amaluzor left him in a position to drive into the box, and the latter almost turned from provider to scorer with a half chance towards the end of the half that went amiss.

It took just three minutes of the second half for the Latics to level when Aldershot failed to clear their lines and the ball sat up for Fondop, who hit a perfectly timed half volley from distance that gave Ashby-Hammond no chance, although the hosts were given a lifeline moments later to restore their lead. Effiong was the man causing problems again in the 54th minute and after some fine work in the box, was dragged down and won a penalty for the Shots. However, his penalty was poor, allowing Norman to make a comfortable stop in the Oldham net and keep the score level. Aldershot continued to push for a second goal though with Amaluzor wriggling around the Oldham defence before getting a shot away that Norman pushed behind, with the resulting corner falling to Corey Jordan who headed over the crossbar at the near post. The hosts came close again late on as Effiong saw a shot cleared off the line, although the ball continued to bounce around with Glover eventually firing just over from the edge of the box. Oldham almost stole the game at the death after a great cross into the box evaded all the Shots defenders and found Joe Nuttall, who dragged his effort wide, allowing Aldershot to go down the other end and produce a late chance of their own, with Amaluzor sending his effort high and wide. They were unable to break through though, walking away with a point a piece after a hard-fought contest.

RECENT FORM

Oldham Athletic (H) D1-1
Maidstone United (A) W0-3
Bromley (A) D2-2
Solihull Moors (A) W1-2
Leiston (H) W4-1
Dagenham & Redbridge (H) L0-2

Indifferent form has plagued Aldershot Town throughout the campaign, but they have finally begun to grow into it since the arrival of Ross McNeilly at the end of October. The Shots kicked off the festive period and the new year with four defeats in a row, but the loss at home to Dagenham & Redbridge sparked an upturn in form and they went on to enjoy a run of five games without defeat beginning in the FA Trophy, with Inih Effiong’s second half brace rounding off a 4-1 victory over Southern League Premier Division Central side Leiston to send them through to the Fifth Round. This would be followed by two wins and two draws from their next four outings, with another Effiong brace sealing victory at Solihull Moors before earning a point at Bromley. They returned to winning ways after a hat-trick from Effiong against Maidstone United saw them gain another resounding three points, although they would be held to a point by relegation strugglers Oldham Athletic last time out.

IN THE DUGOUT: ROSS MCNEILLY

Ross McNeilly is currently enjoying his first managerial job after spells as youth coach at Sunderland and Woking, being appointed as Mark Molesley’s successor in October. The 38-year old joined Aldershot Town in 2017 and spent five years as a youth coach at the EBB Stadium, before taking on an interim role following the dismissal of Molesley with the Shots languishing near the relegation zone, and was tasked with picking up the pieces alongside Terry Brown who took charge of the team for a week, winning both of his games against York City and Yeovil Town before reverting back to his previous role within the club as Head of Football Operations. McNeilly contributed to an improved run of form, guiding them to five wins from his first eight games and was subsequently named their permanent boss until the end of the season, with a view to extend.

ONE TO WATCH: TYLER CORDNER

AFC Bournemouth academy product Tyler Cordner has gone from strength to strength since moving to Aldershot Town in the summer, and has played more times than anyone else alongside Ollie Harfield. Born in Southampton, he remained on the South Coast for much of his early career and joined Havant & Waterlooville on loan where he played 34 times during the 2018/19 season, before moving around the country over the next few years. Further loan spells at Ebbsfleet United, Scunthorpe United and Southend United saw the defender rack up a further 52 career appearances before departing Dean Court without playing a senior game, and joined National League side Weymouth following their promotion from the National League South. Although he was unable to prevent them from sliding straight back into the sixth tier despite scoring three times in 41 games, he found himself remaining at the highest level of non-league football after Aldershot announced his arrival on a two-year deal, and the 24-year old is the Shots’ second highest scorer behind Inih Effiong and Justin Amaluzor with five goals from defence. He has missed just four games this season, but has played 90 minutes every time he has appeared.

LAST TIME WE MET

Boreham Wood 1-2 Aldershot Town
Tuesday 16th August 2022
Vanarama National League

An entertaining evening at the LV BET Stadium Meadow Park saw the Wood fall to their first defeat of the season, as George Williams’ late free kick would prove to be a consolation due to earlier strikes from Justin Amulazor and Ryan Glover.

A more attacking setup saw the hosts boss the possession early on with Danny Elliott shooting wide of Luca Ashby-Hammond’s goal after three minutes, with Tyrone Marsh going even closer when Zak Brunt’s free kick caused confusion in the Shots’ defence. However the visitors took the lead against the run of play after 14 minutes when Amaluzor combined with Inih Effiong to break the deadlock via deflection off Will Evans, which wrong-footed Nathan Ashmore. The Wood responded well with Marsh immediately having a shot deflected wide before firing over from the resulting corner, and they nearly did equalise in fortuitous fashion when Ashby-Hammond spilled Dennon Lewis’ cross before recovering. Jack Payne and Érico Sousa both went close as the hosts continued to push for a leveller, but they were unable to make the scoreline even before the referee called an end to the first half.

The Wood again dominated possession during the early stages of the second half and went close after seven minutes when Jamal Fyfield volleyed over the crossbar, although Glover almost made him pay moments later when he fired wide. However, the former AFC Bournemouth man soon doubled their lead again against the run of play, being in the right place to double the Shots’ lead after Josh McQuoid’s rasping shot cannoned of the post. The goal stunned the hosts who took a while to get going again, and the dangerous Glover forced Ashmore into a good save as he looked to take advantage. From then on it was all Boreham Wood though, with Lee Ndlovu causing havoc with two efforts in quick succession before Lewis somehow missed a golden opportunity. Williams was able to pull a goal back right at the death to restore hope for the Wood with a fantastic free kick, but this would prove too little too late for Luke Garrard’s men. They continued to apply pressure and almost drew level, but with chances for Ndlovu and David Stephens going amiss the Shots were able to hold out for the three points.

HAVEN’T WE MET BEFORE? INIH EFFIONG

Experienced forward Inih Effiong has been around the block having turned out for 20 different clubs throughout his career, and it is the Wood who started it all off for the now 31-year old. A graduate of the St Albans City academy, Effiong made the short move to Boreham Wood ahead of the 2009/10 season in search of game time, and managed to feature 15 times at the age of 19 making him another success story of the club’s PASE Academy. He would return to Clarence Park in 2010 where he went on to register 14 goals in 41 appearances, but his impressive form caught the eye of former club Wood who announced his return to Meadow Park ahead of the 2011/12 season. He would enjoy a positive pre-season as he looked to made his mark on the team despite still being in the early stages of his career and began the season well, going on to make a further 33 appearances for the club. However, he was unable to adapt and soon fell out of favour, making the switch to Chesham United on loan with the move eventually being made permanent. Effiong would go on to carve a successful career at non-league level though with more than 100 goals to his name in nearly 500 appearances, and he added Aldershot Town to his long list of clubs in the summer where he is currently the club’s joint-top scorer, with six goals so far this season.

OUR TOWN. OUR CLUB. OUR COMMUNITY.

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