Aldershot will pose a challenge for table-topping Wrexham. They have pace and width up front and will vary their approach, sometimes looking to pass their way through opposition and sometimes trying to find their wide strikers early.
Aldershot like to use a diagonal from left back Callum Reynolds to Robert, the right-sided striker, as an out-ball. Reynolds will regularly look across to see if Robert is available for the pass once he receives the ball. The diagonal to Robert seems to ingrained in Aldershot’s approach that there were points at Hartlepool, in their last away game, when their defenders seemed to be deliberately angling clearances out towards him when they were under pressure rather than just get the ball clear.
If Robert is not on, Aldershot will look to pass the ball out from the back. Adam McDonnell drops back from holding midfield to split the centre backs and they are happy to be patient, moving the ball around until a diagonal to the flanks or an opportunity to pass with penetration into midfield appears.
However, in their last home game Fylde committed two men up against them when they passed out from the back, not pressing but blocking the passing channels, and this led to an early error by centre back George Fowler losing patience and playing an inaccurate pass out from the back which left his defence exposed when Fylde swiftly counter-attacked.
Against Hartlepool last Saturday, the opening minute showed that, when under pressure, their defenders will take risks to try and pass the ball out, rather than just clear the ball, and can be pressured into mistakes in their defensive third.
Aldershot’s front three is mobile and quick. Fenelon, the central striker, has good movement and pulls out wide to create space in the middle. While certainly no target man, he is capable of winning headers against centre backs. The wide players, Robert and Mendy, are quick and direct.
As Aldershot have little height up front, when they go long they tend to look to hit diagonals behind the full backs for the wide strikers to run onto, or at least to force opposing defenders to clear the ball out of play or inaccurately.
However, they are happier when moving the ball around on the floor in the opposing half, and Rowe’s movement as the most attacking of the midfielders tends to complement that of the strikers well.
When defending, the wide strikers will drop back to support the midfield, sometimes leaving Fenelon quite isolated. This was particularly pronounced at Hartlepool, where there was often a large gap between the striker and the five-man midfield. Despite Fenelon’s pace and willingness to work hard, chasing down defenders, and the wide players’ speed in trying to get forwards, this was a problem for them.
Also, while the wide players get back to cover their full backs, and are happy to hold their defensive positions, against Fylde Mendy was sometimes slow to get back and support on the right. Therefore, when Reynolds tucked in, Aldershot’s defence became very narrow and there was scope for the Fylde right back to overlap into the space behind Mendy.
Aldershot have defended well in the last couple of games, but were picked apart by Barrow, who exposed their defence with the pace of Yusuf. The back four, especially the centre backs, looked slow and were caught square when Barrow attacked, allowing Yusuf to run in behind them with devastating results.