Salford City travel to Aldershot Town on Saturday afternoon as the push for the play-offs continues in the Vanarama National League (KO 15:00).
The Ammies have won three in a row in the league for the first time since putting together a seven-match winning run in September through to October, keeping clean sheets too in the wins against Ebbsfleet, Sutton and Solihull.
Now the challenge for Salford is to continue that form throughout the rest of the season and see where that leaves us, and with both leaders Leyton Orient and AFC Fylde in FA Trophy action for the next two weekends there is an opportunity to get some important points on the board.
Meanwhile Aldershot, having finished in the play-offs in consecutive seasons, are having a very different season as they battle against relegation. Gary Waddock’s side are eight points from safety as they try to prevent dropping below the Conference for the first time since being promoted in 2002-03.
The 56-year-old, who turns 57 on Sunday, is in his second spell in charge of The Shots having guided them to the Football League in 2007-08 before leaving for Wycombe Wanderers in 2009.
After an inconsistent start, Aldershot were sitting around mid-table until a devastating run of 18 league games without a win dragged The Shots into a relegation battle.
They have been plagued by injuries at different points throughout the campaign and at times have barley had enough senior players to field a full team, so there’s no hiding from the fact it’s been a struggle for Aldershot.
The fewest goals scored in the league (29) probably tells it’s own story as to what the root of The Shots’ problems is, and at home only Maidstone (15) have scored less than Aldershot (16).
One positive for Waddock’s side was taking League One side Bradford City to an FA Cup First Round replay, which they lost 4-1 on penalties at Valley Parade after 1-1 draws – sandwiching their trip to The Peninsula Stadium in November.
Since then though they have won just once, slipping from 13th in the league to 22nd.
Defeat against Leyton Orient on Tuesday made it three defeats in a row for Aldershot for the first time in the league this season, although they were unlucky not to get a point at The EBB Stadium after Scott Rendell missed from a few yards out and Dean Brill saved well from Reece Grant.
Reports also say that they were unlucky to lose out at Barrow, and before the Gateshead loss they drew at FC Halifax Town then won at Braintree. Eight points with a game in hand is certainly achievable for Aldershot though with games against Dover, Havant and Maidstone ending their season. They just need to put themselves in the best possible position.
One to Watch – Reece Grant
Aldershot’s joint-top scorers are Rendell and Adam McDonnell who are both pivotal in Aldershot’s system, but Reece Grant will be one to keep an eye on. After signing from Braintree Town in November he has found the back of the net four times, adding to the five goals he managed at Cressing Road.
He caused a couple of problems for Salford in Braintree’s 2-2 draw at The Peninsula Stadium last October, and his pace is a real weapon, particularly having an impact towards the end of games coming off the bench.
Geographical and League differences have kept us separated until this season, and our Adam Rooney-inspired 4-0 win at The Peninsula Stadium is the only meeting to date.
The Irishman scored a hat-trick in 64 minutes with Carl Piergianni also on the scoresheet when he headed in a Danny Lloyd corner. See the highlights below.