Aldershot Town FC
Date: Saturday 12th October 2019
Aldershot Town 0-3 Hartlepool United
Aldershot Town - 5 Facts
1) Aldershot Town were founded in 1992 after the demise of Aldershot FC, who had been in the 4th Division at the time. The new club started the 1992/93 season in Division 3 of the Isthmian League.
2) The club started by achieving back-to-back promotions to Division 1, but it took them four seasons at that level to win the title and earn promotion to the Premier Division. They then spent five seasons in the Premier Division before winning the title in the 2002/03 season to earn promotion to the Conference.
3) In the club's first two seasons in the Conference, they finished in the play-offs but lost out to Shrewsbury Town in the 2003/04 season and Carlisle United in the 2004/05 season, both of whom ended up earning promotion back to the Football League). Two seasons in mid-table followed before the club won the title in the 2007/08 season to earn promotion to League 2.
4) The club spent five seasons in League 2, the second of which saw them compete in the play-offs (losing to Rotherham United in the semi-finals). Other than this, they generally finished in mid-table until the 2012/13 season, when the club finished bottom amidst financial problems. The club went into administration ahead of the 2013/14 season but survived, and three seasons later they competed in the play-offs for two seasons running (losing to Tranmere Rovers and then Ebbsfleet United). The 2018/19 season then saw the club finish in the National League's bottom four, but they were reprieved due to the demotion of Gateshead.
5) The club's best FA Cup run saw them reach the 4th Round in the 2012/13 season, beating Hendon, Fleetwood Town and Rotherham United before losing to Middlesbrough. The club reached the 4th Round of the League Cup in the 2011/12 season, beating West Ham United, Carlisle United and Rochdale before losing at home to Manchester United.
In the FA Trophy, the club have twice reached the semi-finals, most recently in the 2007/08 season when they beat Hayes & Yeading United, Woking, Braintree Town and Tamworth before losing to Ebbsfleet United over two legs. As for the FA Vase, the club's sole campaign in the competition saw them reach the Quarter Finals in the 1993/94 season, beating Gosport Borough, Thatcham Town, Herne Bay, Malden Vale, Soham Town Rangers and Wimborne Town before losing to Atherton Laburnum Rovers.
I was always going to pay a visit to Aldershot Town at some point this season, but with how expensive their games usually are (due to the club being at Step 1 level), I honestly was not expecting to be able to visit them this side of Christmas.
Originally, I wasn't even planning to this early into the season, with my original plan being a visit to East Grinstead Town yesterday. This plan then changed to visiting Croydon instead (once it became apparent that I couldn't afford East Grinstead at this point) due to their "pay-what-you-want" offer for Non-League Day.
However, in the build-up to Non-League Day, I noticed on Twitter that Aldershot Town were also offering "pay-what-you-want" entry for Non-League Day, providing of course that you booked in advance. Naturally, with a chance to visit this ground for as little as £2.50, I wasn't going to refuse and I ordered myself a ticket almost immediately. I had a back-up option on 3G in case of the unlikely event that it would prove necessary (as the on-off rain was still continuing in and around Guildford, and was particularly heavy going into Saturday morning and throughout the day), but in reality I was confident it wouldn't be needed (and it proved not to be, obviously).
I ordered my train tickets at around 11:30am on the day of the game, but with the train journey to Aldershot taking just 17 minutes from Guildford, I didn't have to leave the house until around 1:15pm, which meant I didn't need to have an early lunch for once. In reality, I left the house closer to 1:20pm, arriving at the station with around ten minutes until my train departed.
Once on the train, the journey to Aldershot was quick and easy, though rather irritating thanks to a large group of children on the train yelling at the top of their lungs (as children do); it was annoying enough that I was glad the train journey was as short as it was (any longer would have driven me mad). The train arrived in Aldershot at around 2:10pm, and from the station it was a simple five or so minute walk to the ground.
Upon entry, I paid £3 for a glossy, 64-page programme before finding my way to my seat in the North Stand. I then took a few photos on my camera (as best as I could from a sitting position, at least) before flicking through Twitter while waiting for kick-off.
Fortunate that the North Stand is pictured there, as I was unable to get a photo from that angle myself
Looking at the table and the recent form of both sides, I was not expecting any real entertainment out of this match, but I was hoping for some entertainment after Aldershot's 4-0 win in midweek and after Hartlepool sacked their manager in midweek.
I was going to write a match report for this game as I always do, but a series of issues with the house when I got back took away all my motivation to write one, so here's the one from Aldershot's club website:
The game started off in the worse possible way for Aldershot Town, with Josh Hawkes capitalising on a quick counter-attack.
After an early penalty decision that was controversially waved away from referee Ryan Atkin, Hartlepool pounced and took the early advantage in what was their first attack of the game.
A through ball down the left-hand side set Josh Hawkes through on goal and after some tight pressure from Kodi Lyons-Foster, the forward does well to cut inside and just about squeeze his effort just past Mitch Walker and into the back of the net.
However, the home side respond with a great counter-attack of their own in the 14th minute with Jacob Berkeley-Agyepong played through by Ethan Chislett however, Aldershot Town’s joint top-scorer sees his effort go just wide of the mark.
The home side continued to add pressure and two quick-fire chances for both Berkeley-Agyepong and Shamir Mullings from a corner, saw Aldershot still searching for that equalising goal.
Things could’ve gone from bad to worse after Atkins is at the centre of things again, after awarding a controversial penalty to Hartlepool following Lewis Kinsella’s challenge on Ryan Donaldson that looked to have been outside the area.
Never-the-less, goal-scorer Hawkes steps up to take it but his effort is fantastically saved by Walker who goes to his left-hand side and saves from the midfielder.
There was still time in the first-half for Berkeley-Agyepong to try his luck with a glancing header just inside the area in the 43rd minute but his effort was once again well-saved by Killip.
This ended what was an entertaining first-half with plenty of chances for both sides, with both teams looking to come out in the second-half with the early pressure.
The second-half started in the same frantic fashion with Chislett’s opportunity to equalise in the 50th minute, brilliantly halted by Peter Kioso with a last-ditch challenge just inside the area.
Aldershot Town continued to press for that equaliser with early chances in the second-half for both Mohammed Bettamer and Berkeley-Agyepong respectively, but neither were able to level proceedings.
A few half-chances continued to emerge for the Shots, but despite their relentless pressure, Hartlepool did well to keep the home side at bay for a majority of the second-half.
Despite the Aldershot Town pressure, the away side were then able to find themselves a bit more breathing room, following a nice interchange between Luke James and Nicke Kabamba, that allowed fellow substitute Gavin Holohan to tap in from a couple yards out.
There was time for the away side to deal a final blow to an Aldershot Town side who gave everything going forward as Holohan was able to play in Kabamba for a third and wrap up what was ultimately a disappointing result for Aldershot.
Overall, this wasn't a great match by any stretch of the imagination, but it was better than I was expecting, even if the three-goal margin of victory didn't feel like a true reflection of the gap between the two sides; it only ended up like that because, penalty miss aside, Hartlepool took their chances, whereas Aldershot did not.
The journey back was as quick as the journey there (a minor stoppage notwithstanding), though this time I made sure to avoid the carriage the children were in. I got back into the house just before 6pm, shortly after which I was made aware of the worsening of plumbing issues at the house, which distracted me for quite a while (to the point where I lost any motivation to write a match report up).
Up next will be a visit to Carshalton Athletic in the FA Cup 4th Qualifying Round, when they host Dagenham & Redbridge next Saturday. Knowing my luck, I won't be needing the 3G pitch and will regret using it when the weather gets even worse later in the season, but there aren't any other appealing options for me in the FA Cup, so it is what it is. As for the couple of weekends after that, I'm waiting on tomorrow's draws for the FA Trophy and Vase before I come to any decisions for the weekends of the 26th of October and the 2nd of November.
As a former Football League ground, the Recreation Ground is naturally impressive in terms of the scale of its facilities, but more importantly the ground has a good amount of character to it. The ground has an overall capacity of 7,100 and has some form of cover on all four sides, with a couple of uncovered terraces also available on the far side.
The North Stand is the main stand at the ground and runs the entire length of the pitch. The stand has a mixture of seating and terracing, with the seats being towards the front and the terracing towards the back.
Behind the far goal is the East Bank, which is an imposing covered terrace which has visibly been extended at some point in the past. The stand is split between home and away supporters, with a large area of flags separating the two.
Directly across from the North Stand is the South Stand, which is a smaller all-seater stand (and the only all-seater stand at the ground, in fact). Either side of this are the aforementioned uncovered terraces.
The High Street End is the most basic at the ground, with just a 250-seater Arena stand providing cover behind the near goal. An electronic scoreboard is just beyond this.