When Ashley Westwood steered in the only goal of the game down at Aldershot in August there wasn’t a concern in the world. It was a second win in a week following an impressive Carling Cup victory at Ipswich and sustained a mini unbeaten run that kicked off this season. So who could possibly have predicted where we would end up come the next meeting that takes place tomorrow afternoon?!
Westwood is now in charge of troubled neighbours Kettering Town, Gary Johnson has thankfully departed after that glimmer of a decent start to his season and the Cobblers are slowly having to pick up the pieces. Aidy Boothroyd finally has a first eleven that is mainly his own now though and, whisper it quietly, has started to help us turn the corner in the tightest of relegation battles.
Aldershot had a funny old season in the mid-table cluster that we would so love to call our own. A dreadful Christmas and New Year run without scoring for six games has the Shots looking over their own shoulders but suddenly they hit back with six wins on the bounce – a run that was ended by the narrowest of margins at Torquay United on Tuesday night. Dean Holdsworth’s men are still only nine points from the playoff places though and may have one eye on a late assault on the end of season lottery. That makes this one another tough game for the Cobblers and for Aidy Boothroyd’s attempt at the Great Escape…
The Cobblers have now taken ten points from a possible fifteen since the start of February and have moved off the bottom of League Two thanks to a 3-2 home win over Bristol Rovers on Tuesday night. After letting slip a two goal lead at Cheltenham last weekend, it so nearly happened again but thankfully a three goal cushion was just enough to earn a huge three points.
Aldershot were on a fine run of six wins in a row until Tuesday when they were edged out by Torquay but will take their place in the top ten this afternoon when Port Vale are docked ten points for entering administration.
Both Bayo Akinfenwa and Michael Jacobs look to have shaken off knocks picked up on Tuesday night so it once again looks like Boothroyd can name an unchanged side – something that’s got to help the continuity of a team growing in confidence by the week. Meanwhile, the Cobblers boss is set to play Luke Guttridge despite the midfielder holding a reported ‘gentleman’s agreement’ with Shots boss Dean Holdsworth that he would not face them again this season on departing the EBB Stadium in January. Boothroyd says that he will fine the player if he refuses to play so there could be some tension in the dug outs tomorrow, particularly if Guttridge plays and scores!
Aldershot have extended the loan spell of Hull City defender Sonny Bradley into a third month so he will be available for selection once more. But keeper Ross Worner has been ruled out for the season with a back injury.
Cobblers forward Jake Robinson spent two periods of his career on loan at Aldershot, in the 2004-05 season and again in 2009, scoring eight times in the two spells.
Luke Guttridge signed for Town from Aldershot back in January after a year and a half with the club whom he joined from the Cobblers in 2010.
Fellow midfielder Ben Harding played 143 times for the Shots between 2007 and 2011. He would sign for Wycombe in 2011 but limited chances there saw him sign for the Cobblers early this year.
Previous Six Meetings…
13/08/11: Aldershot 0-1 Cobblers
In the first away day of this season, the Cobblers came away with the win thanks to an early Ashley Westwood goal.
19/02/11: Cobblers 1-1 Aldershot
This was the fourth in the Cobblers’ six game drawing sequence last season with Ben Tozer opening the scoring early on. Peter Vincenti would earn a point for the Shots before Shaun Harrad was sent off with eight minutes to play.
04/09/10: Aldershot 1-1 Cobblers
An injury time leveller from Ben Harding breaks down the Cobblers after Billy McKay’s neatly taken goal in the first half looked to have given us all three points.
12/02/10: Cobblers 0-3 Aldershot
In one of his first appearances for the club, Kevin Thornton is sent off after just eleven minutes. From the resulting free kick, Marvin Morgan put the visitors in front and would go on to claim a second after Kirk Hudson had extended their lead in the second half.
24/11/09: Aldershot 2-1 Cobblers
Luke Guttridge, now an Aldershot player, puts the Cobblers into the lead on a cold Tuesday night at the EBB Stadium. But a real collapse late on sees the hosts completely turn it around thanks to a Scott Donnelly penalty and a Marvin Morgan winner in the last minute of the game.
26/01/91: Cobblers 2-1 Aldershot
En route to a tenth place finish in Division Four that year, the Shots were beaten at the County Ground and only survived relegation because of the expansion in the Football League that season meaning that their finishing place of second bottom of the table didn’t lead to them dropping out of the league.
The Man In The Middle…
The man in charge at Sixfields will be Andy Haines. The last five games he has officiated have all ended 1-1 with his last game in charge of the Cobblers coming in a 1-0 defeat at Rochdale that earned the Spotland club promotion in 2010.
Things are starting to look up again and that always concerns me when it comes to predictions! I’d like to be able to sit on the fence but I’ll give it the old kiss of death and go for a 2-1 home win!