PREVIEW: Luton Town v Aldershot

Try as they might, Aldershot just haven’t been able to pull clear of the Skrill Premier relegation zone this season, writes Mike Simmonds.

With six games to go, the Shots, who were deducted 10 points before the start of the campaign for being in administration, are just a point behind plummeting Hereford United

It had looked like Andy Scott’s men were going to have every chance of survival this year, with a fine run of form over the Christmas and New Year period when they won five out of eight.

Unfortunately though, that run hit the skids at the wrong time as they have taken just 11 points from their last 12 games, to seriously flirt with dropping into the Skrill South.

On their travels, the Shots haven’t won for five games, since January 21, an impressive result at Barnet, drawing three times and losing twice.

Aldershot’s away form has been disappointing all year, with a mere three wins from 19, scoring just 14 goals in that time, while conceding 26.

The Shots made a triple loan signing on deadline day last month, re-signing Brentford midfielder Manny Oyeleke on loan until the end of the season.

Southend United defender Mark Phillips and Bournemouth striker Harry Cornick, 19, have also agreed to similar moves.

Phillips, 32, who has played 32 games for Southend this term, rejoins ex-Brentford boss Scott, while Oyeleke, 21, scored four goals in 33 appearances for Aldershot before returning to the Bees in January.

The club also agreed a deal before the window closed for Portsmouth defender Dan Butler to rejoin on loan.

Speaking earlier this month, Scott believed that the mood around the Recreation Ground needed lifting to give them the best chance of staying up.

He told BBC Surrey: “We’re not getting drawn into that mire where people are just moping around and thinking it’s a lost cause - it’s certainly not.

“We’re trying to separate ourselves from people that are doom-mongers and want to bring us down.

“When we lose games everyone forgets we had 10 points taken off of us and it’s doom and gloom, we’re useless and we’re going to go down.

“With all the things we have been through this season, we have still got a great chance of getting out of it.

“It’s funny. When we win games or do well against a side everyone adds 10 points on and says we’re six points off the play-offs.

“When we lose games everyone forgets we had 10 points taken off of us and it’s doom and gloom, we’re useless and we’re going to go down.

“Everyone hates me, the board and the players. That is just the nature of the beast.”

Team news: Hatters are without Luke Guttridge, Andy Parry, Jonathan Smith and Danny Fitzsimons.

Paul Benson should be fit, while Alex Wall and Solomon Taiwo have both been recalled from loan spells at are available.

After his red card against Gateshead, 20-goal striker Brett Williams will serve the second game of his three-match suspension on Saturday, whilst Bradley Bubb’s hamstring problem leaves him 50-50 to feature.

Chris Barker (calf) and Anthony Tonkin (hamstring) both went off against Hyde and could be out until the Easter weekend, while Tristan Plummer is also likely to be unavailable for the rest of the campaign due to serious knee ligament injuries.

Joe Partington (injury) has returned to Bournemouth, meaning Dan Butler and Joe Oastler are favourites to step into the starting back four, although Adam Webster is also an option.

Top Skrill scorer - Hatters: Andre Gray (27). Shots: Brett Williams (20)

Average Skrill Premier crowds: Hatters: 6,985. Shots: 1,842.

Man in the middle: Simon Bennett - shown 24 yellows and one red in his 11 games this term, while has taken Luton once in the league this season, the 5-0 win at Alfreton and is yet to officiate Aldershot.

Has been a regular in the Premier League though, as he was on the line for Crystal Palace’s win over Chelsea at the weekend and for West Ham v Man United, while also assisted in the friendly between Australia and Ecuador recently.

In charge: Andy Scott – 41-year-old enjoyed a playing career with spells at Sheffield United, Brentford, Oxford United and Leyton Orient.

Started out at Sutton United, before switching to Sheffield United for £50,000 in 1992 and then a £75,000 transfer to Brentford in 1997.

Made almost 150 appearances for the Bees and then joined Oxford United in 2001, again for £75,000, before joining Leyton Orient, where he was forced to retire in 2005 with heart problems.

Landed a coaching role at Brisbane Road and went on to become youth team manager.

Was appointed assistant boss at Brentford in May 2007, before named caretaker manager in December when Terry Butcher was sacked.

Took the role permanently in January 2008 and was runner up in the LMA Manager of the Year Award for League Two in 2009 after a promotion winning season.

Lost his job in February 2011, before becoming Rotherham boss in April, but was sacked in March 2012 after less than a year in the job.

Was linked with the Luton vacancy twice in the last few years, but took the hotseat at Aldershot on February 22, 2013 after Dean Holdsworth’s departure.

View from the opposition: Andy Scott - speaking to the club’s official website: “We’ve got to approach the Luton game in the same way as Hyde, in terms of making sure that we do our jobs properly.

“We’re going to come up against a Luton team that are flying high and they’ll have a huge backing behind them. It’s one of those games where you’ll find out a lot about our players, but I think they’ll enjoy the occasion, relish it and want to show why they are capable of playing on that stage.

“I think there are areas that we can exploit. By John’s own admission they didn’t play well on Tuesday night but they’ve won because they’ve got people who can change the game.

“They’ve got plenty of goals in them, they’re very attack-minded and their energy is unbelievable.

“They’ve got some good leaders and good experience but also plenty of legs and a way of playing that makes it difficult for the opposition.”

One to watch: Josh Scott - well known to Hatters boss John Still after he signed the striker for Dagenham & Redbridge in the 2009-10 season.

Netted 16 goals in the club’s League Two season, including four as Daggers stunned Morecambe in the first leg of the play-offs.

Injury stunted his progress though and he was released midway through this season before joining Aldershot and has scored three goals in 14 games so far.

Friendly faces: Town midfielder Luke Guttridge spent 18 months at Aldershot, making over 75 appearances and scoring 14 times for the club.

He made quite an impact at the Recreation Ground as he was voted Supporters Player of the Year after an impressive first campaign during 2010-11.

Anthony Charles has spent three spells at the Shots, joining for the first time in July 2002 to October 2003.

He then returned on loan in 2007, before signing permanently in July of that year, staying for four seasons and racking up over 150 appearances.

Helped the club win promotion from the Conference and was named in the division’s team of the year, while also winning the club’s Supporters Player of the Year honour and Players’ Player award.

Midfielder Solomon Taiwo has just returned to Kenilworth Road after a loan spell at the Shots in which he played six times.

Meanwhile, Shots striker Tristan Plummer joined Luton on loan from Bristol City in August 2008 to October 08, scoring once in eight appearances, that coming in a 2-0 Carling Cup win over Plymouth.

Joined Aldershot in January and has made six times scoring once.

We’ve got form: Hatters have a fine record against Aldershot at Kenilworth Road, winning seven out of 10 games, drawing two and losing just one.

They have scored 30 times, conceding just 12, with a biggest win, the 6-1 triumph back in 1934-45 when the two teams met in Division Three South thanks to goals from Jack Ball (2), John Stephenson (2), Frederick Roberts and Sam Bell.

Last time out: Luton won 3-1 against an Aldershot team containing Antony Charles in League Two in September 2008.

Hatters were ahead on 17 minutes through Michael Spillane, before the Shots levelled thanks to John Grant on 51.

Ricky Newman was then sent off for the visitors with 12 minutes to go and Town took full advantage with goals from Asa Hall (89) and Chis Martin (90).

Hatters: Conrad Logan, George Pilkington (Kevin Watson 83), Claude Gnakpa, Lewis Emanuel, Asa Hall, Keith Keane, Rossi Jarvis (Tristan Plummer 79), Michael Spillane, Mark Pugh (Ryan Charles 59), Sam Parkin, Chris Martin.

Subs not used; Dean Brill, Ian Roper.

Attendance: 6,462.

Referee: Phil Dowd.

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