Preview | Aldershot Town (h)
Aldershot may only have 6 points, but this certainly isn’t representative of their early season performance levels. Mark Molesley has his side playing a good brand of attacking football, and a combination of poor finishing and bad luck have led them to losing 5 out of 7 so far.
However, they rectified this last time out against high flying Barnet, as 2 late goals, one from former Magpie Inih Effiong, secured a 3-1 win. It was a much needed result, but now the Shots will be brimming with confidence, so will come to Meadow Lane on Tuesday night with their tails up.
Aldershot are one of the rare sides who have a keeper on the bench, despite only having 5 subs, and their options will be even more limited as loanee midfielder Frank Vincent will not be eligible to play against his parent club.
We covered Vincent at length earlier this week, Let's be Frank about Vincent and his stay in Hampshire may be extended due to the loan arrival of Quevin Castro at Meadow Lane. The two seemingly play in the same position, suggesting Vincent may have longer to show his qualities to the Shots faithful than first thought.
It's been a rocky start for the Shots who after seven games find themselves 4th from bottom in the league having won 2 and lost 5 of their opening games.
Aldershot were 3-1 winners at home to Barnet last time out, which considering Barnet's start to the season looks like a decent win. Their only other win was away at Boreham Wood, a place where very few clubs will come away with anything at all.
As previously reported in the Bromley preview Notts' recent run of results means they currently lie 3rd in the table and in a good position to keep the pressure on Chesterfield and Wrexham. In fact if Notts are victorious over Aldershot it will be the first time they have strung together 4 wins in a row since being on that great run of form in the curtailed Covid season of 2019/20.
When comparing team action rankings for the season so far Notts continue to rank highly in all areas. Aldershot currently have the lowest press in the league with a PPDA of 15.54 compared to Notts who have the 3rd best PPDA so far of 7.56.
Charts combined view below:
Loanee keeper Luca Ashby-Hammond has been one of the standout keepers in the division so far, making 27 saves, the 5th most in the league. He may only have a save percentage of 67.5%, but he has made a plethora of acrobatic saves, including a particularly impressive one against Barnet (below), reminiscent of Jerzy Dudek’s famous extra time save against Shevchenko in the 2005 Champions League final.
This might sound like an exaggeration, but it truly is one of the finest stops we will see all season. The young keeper has also left his line more times than any other stopper in the league, and he has been crucial in between the sticks for the Shots this season.
The Fulham youngster has adapted well to his first experience of senior football, and the 6' 3" keeper has proven he’s a good shot stopper. He’s certainly been kept busy, and you’d expect him to be even more so than usual on Tuesday night, but Ashby-Hammond will be tough to beat in between the sticks.
Twenty One year old Tommy Willard hasn’t quite hit the heights expected of him at the start of the season, but so far he has been used very effectively as an attacking sub.
This is perhaps Aldershot’s greatest strength; their attacking depth and pacey attacking options off the bench mean they have the ability to change games. This did prove to be the difference in their crucial 3-1 win over Barnet, as their fresh attacking input proved the difference, with two 90+ minute goals, one by Willard himself.
They also boast the services of attackers Frank Amartey and Harry Panayiotou, so Molesley has the choice of 5 first team attackers. It means he can bring two on late to inject fresh pace and stretch tired legs.
The uncertainty over which trio will start will also prove a headache for Luke Williams in terms of his preparation, but Notts too boast great, varied attacking options, so it should be a fascinating battle in that regard on Tuesday night.
After 5 games forward Justin Amaluzor has already matched his best ever goals tally, 3, and there is an overriding feeling that it might have just clicked for the 25 year old.
Amaluzor clearly has quality; he played 10 games for Motherwell in the Scottish Premiership last season, a move he wouldn’t have earned had he not had at least something about him, but he failed to score a single goal.
This season however it seems different, with the dangerous number 7 making himself one of the first names on Mark Molesley’s team sheet. A direct wide man with pace, Amaluzor is deployed to the right of central striker Effiong, where he is able to cut onto his favoured left foot.
Aldershot play with a target man, so a more traditional approach would be to play Amaluzor on the left where he would be able to cross to Effiong, but by having him cut in from the right it adds extra dynamism to Aldershot’s attacks, as well as allowing Amaluzor to play in a role where he is most potent.
Former Magpie Inih Effiong was one of the surprise transfers of the summer, with the brutish forward trading Woking for Aldershot, a move between two rivals.
Effiong’s decision was met with a degree of ire from Woking fans, understandable as he banged in 13 goals for the Cards, a tally he looks as though he could beat for Aldershot this season.
Notts fans should be familiar with Effiong, and should know exactly what his game is about; he’s a typical physical target man, one who guarantees goals at this level. He is an imposing forward, one who looks to bully defenders, and if a ball is played into a dangerous area in the air there’s a good chance Effiong will pounce.
Baldwin and Brindley will have to be careful in particular not to be dragged into a physical encounter with the big forward, especially in the air, and you can easily see Molesley targeting the back post cross, with Effiong purposely placed up against Richard Brindley.
Effiong is 6' 4", a nuisance in the box, and often has the ability to score out of nowhere. In truth we didn’t see the best of Effiong at the Lane, but then again we didn’t play to his strengths either, and he will be even more motivated to score against his former side.
Molesley began the season with a back 3 but reverted to a back 4 after facing defeat in their opening two games.
With a back 4 their fortunes have improved and with the addition of Vincent an organised 4-3-3 has worked well for them. However, with the Notts loanee unable to face his parent club it might mean a tweak is needed by the Shots Boss which might just break up a little bit of the momentum they were starting to gain.
Despite playing with a target man in Effiong, Aldershot don’t play as a side usually would with such a striker. They do play long balls, but these are often into space behind the opposition backline. This is mainly due to the pace Aldershot possess in attack, and all 5 of their forward options carry a lot of speed.
Notts play with a high line, and playing in such a way naturally carries its own risks; this may play into Aldershot’s hands, as they look to play the ball over the top to exploit the high line meaning the recovery pace of Aden Baldwin and Richard Brindley will be crucial in stopping Aldershot’s attacks.
Aldershot have scored 8 and conceded 13 goals in their first 7 games with an average xG of 1.15 per game and an average xCG of 1.91 per game.
They are averaging 10.29 shots per 90 mins with 38.90% of those attempts on target.
At the other end of the pitch The Shots have faced an average of 15.18 shots per 90 mins with 36.00% of attempts faced on target.<