Ask any manager and they will tell you the league table doesn’t lie, but in Aldershot’s case, this season it does, writes Mike Simmonds.
After being relegated from League Two, the Shots were hit with a 10-point deduction as they entered administration in May due to running up debts worth £1m, while they also owed £300,000 to football creditors.
They were still voted into the division at the Conference’s AGM, but were left with plenty of ground to claw back.
Andy Scott’s side started in decent form too, making an immediate dent in their deduction, as they won five, drew two and lost three of their opening 10 games, with victories against the likes of Hereford and Wrexham.
Since the 2-0 win over the Red Dragons though, Shots have gone three games without a win and have failed to score in their last three games, going 280 minutes without a goal.
They have leapfrogged basement side Hyde and are four points adrift of the drop zone, but had had they not been handicapped from the start, Shots would be sitting comfortably in 14th place, just five points away from the play-offs.
After making 13 players redundant in the summer including Danny Hylton, Olly Lancashire and top scorer Craig Reid, boss Scott was faced with building a new squad and put a team out for their opening clash against Grimsby, including some players who hadn’t trained with each other before.
He has managed to acquire some much needed experience, with the likes of Mark Molesley and Martin Rowlands joining.
Scott is slowly but surely strengthening his options too as Charlton Athletic stopper Tom Pope joined on a month’s loan recently, while former Yeovil and Northampton winger Lewis Young, brother of England and Manchester United wideman Ashley, penned a short term deal in September.
Team news: New loan keeper Nick Pope will continue in goal at the expense of Glenn Morris, who is expected to be out for up to three weeks with a thigh strain.
Right-back Joe Oastler has the same complaint and is not expected back for at least another week.
Shots are also without centre-back Adam Webster as the Portsmouth loanee has been called up for the England U19’s European Championship campaign in Slovenia.
Anthony Tonkin (calf) and Adam Mekki (collarbone) are both expected to be out of contention until the end of October.
Hatters are almost at full strength, although Alex Lawless may be rested, leaving just Jon Shaw (hernia) and Danny Fitzsimons (knee) out.
Top Skrill scorer - Shots: Brett Williams (6) Hatters: Luke Guttridge (5).
Man in the middle: Paul Rees. Has taken Luton once this season, the 2-0 win over Salisbury, and has shown 17 yellows in his five games so far.
Last season, he brandished his red card seven times in just 19 games, with 54 yellows too, including dismissing Ebbsfleet’s Stefan Payne in their 2-0 defeat at Luton.
Also officiated Luton’s 2-1 win at Tamworth back in September.
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 the 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 of this year after Dean Holdsworth’s departure.
View from the opposition: Andy Scott - speaking to the local media after Saturday’s 3-0 defeat against Grimsby: “We’ve given three points away to a very average side. We’ve dominated the game but we’ve given them three gifts.
“People will think I’m loopy standing here saying we were the better side after losing 3-0, but that was the case.
“When we moved the ball properly we looked a decent side but you’ve got to defend well and you’ve got to start well.
“We do it one game and not the next, we’ve got to be consistent in that because you don’t give yourself a chance to get a foothold in the game.”
Average home crowd: Shots: 2,117. Luton: 6,362.
One to watch: Brett Williams. 25-year-old striker who is Shots top scorer with six to his name already.
Hasn’t netted since the 3-3 draw with Barnet on September 17 though, a run of four games, and missed a penalty on Saturday.
Started life at Reading, before spells with Rotherham, Northampton and Woking, until he was snapped up by Shots in the summer.
Friendly faces: Jake Goodman. The 20-year-old joined Hatters from Millwall on loan towards the end of last season, playing 11 times.
He was snapped by Aldershot in August on loan until January and has started all 13 of their Skrill Premier games.
Meanwhile, Town midfielder Luke Guttridge spent 18 months at Aldershot, making over 75 appearances and scoring 14 times for the club.
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.
We’ve got form: Luton have scarcely travelled to the Shots in their recent history, with their previous meeting four years ago when Hatters were beaten 2-1.
You have to go back to the 1960s and then the 1930s to find regular visits to the Recreation Ground, when Shots were under their previous incarnation of Aldershot FC.
Then, Luton won three of their eight visits, drawing three and losing two, scoring 12 and conceding 15 goals.
Town’s biggest win was a 3-2 triumph in English Division Three South in December 5, 1936 when Len Rich, Joe Payne and Jack Ball netted.
Hatters’ biggest lost was a 4-1 reverse in Division Four on February 4, 1967, Bruce Rioch scoring Town’s only goal.
Last time out: Hatters lost 2-1 to Aldershot in their most recent visit in League Two on March 14, 2009.
Scott Davies put the hosts in front on 15 minutes, before Tom Craddock levelled for Town on 35.
Kirk Hudson scored the winner for the Shots, pouncing just four minutes after the break.
Hatters: Dean Brill, Mark Bower, Ed Asafu-Adjaye (Kevin Nicholls 73), Sol Davis, Asa Hall (Lewis Emanuel 60), Keith Keane, Michael Spillane, Chris Martin, Tom Craddock, Ian Henderson (Sam Parkin 80), Kevin Gallen.
Subs not used: David Button, George Pilkington.
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