Saturday, August 13, 2011
Written Saturday 09.15 .....
I have two further selections for today both in League 2, the first will not surprise anyone too much and is for Aldershot Town who host Northampton Town. We have discussed the Shots several times recently and they did us a very big favour in winning at Bradford last weekend ( preview below), three points were great, but the performance was fantastic and very encouraging for boss Dean Holdsworth and his team, fitting reward for all the hard work put in over the summer.
They were very disappointed that their cup tie with West Ham was called off in midweek, but it has given them extended recovery time and also enabled them to get Luke Guttridge fit for today, he is arguably their most important player and will be very motivated facing his former club. Guttridge is very busy in midfield and doesn't give opponents a moments peace, if there was to be any complaints about the win at Bradford it was as the second half wore on, City got too much time on the ball in the middle of the park, that would not have happened if he had played. That is a fully fit squad for Holdsworth and with another fruitful weeks training under their belts, I have to take them at nice looking odds.
The visitors opened with a 0-0 draw at home to a much changed and weakened Accrington Stanley team last week, but put that behind them with a cup win at Ipswich Town on Tuesday evening. It was a second string home side, but even so was a fine win for the Cobblers who are turning into cup specialists, however, it might not be so easy for them to again raise their game today and they might have to do so without two key players in Akinfenwa and Johnson who both face late tests. This is not cut and dried, the visitors are an improving team, but they have struggled for goals and wins in these bread and butter league games and given the edge in fitness I believe Aldershot have and the extra recovery time, which is probably more use now than in two months time when everyone is on a similar level fitness wise, I have to stick with the Shots at these quotes. Aldershot -0.25 2.09 + .
Let's start with Bradford City - Aldershot Town, which will not surprise too many of you. I wrote this about Shots in pre season ....
It is a completely different story at Aldershot, don't get me wrong, they are not exactly flush with funds, but boss Dean Holdsworth who made a very promising start to life as a coach at Newport County, is ultra professional in his approach. He had half a season to find out what was working and what was not at the Recreation Ground and has had the off season to get his own men in, including a very high level( by League 2 standards) backroom team. Deano, who was a hero at Brentford in a former life, is very thorough and keen to make a fast start to this campaign. So those of you that are only with me short term, please make a note of that. Not only were the Shots one of the first teams back training, but the entire squad trained at some time through the summer four or five at a time, this means they are very fit and advanced in preparation.
This was very clear at the weekend when they travelled to Farnborough Town, one of the better BSS teams last season who narrowly missed out on promotion and could easily have swapped places with Tamworth. Shots got better and better as the game progressed and ran out 4-0 winners, with newcomers Michael Rankine and especially Bradley Bubb who is lightning quick and scored 40 goals in 88 starts in the BSS impressing. The difference between how these two clubs have started their preseason is further highlighted by the fact that one of the Tamworth players missed the first week of training as he was still on holiday ! Holdsworth would never have stood for that. hard to see anything other than another away win, with Shots fitness advantage surely telling after the break if not before.
Holdsworth has got his team primed for the campaign , they completed a very productive pre season and travel north in great heart. He added two players to the squad last week with the addition of Anthony Pulis and George Montgomery, both of whom will help bring along the youngsters/ less experienced players at the club. Montgomery was part of the Dagenham & Redbridge promotion winning side of two seasons ago and his silky left foot will be a welcome addition.
City are a sleeping giant at this level, but are set to slumber a little longer, with Peter Jackson having a very big job to turn them around. He has started the process, by bringing whole host of new players in, but almost none have experience of this division, this is a work in progress and City a team in transition. Aldershot +0.25 1.90 is my pick.