Aldershot v Harrogate Town: Leesley back to 100 per cent and targeting another three points

Joe Leesley made his first start of the season as Harrogate Town beat Barnet in midweek. Picture: Matt Kirkham
Joe Leesley made his first start of the season as Harrogate Town beat Barnet in midweek. Picture: Matt Kirkham

Joe Leesley is back and he has Aldershot in his sights as Harrogate Town bid to extend their unbeaten start in the National League.

Last season’s National League North player of the year picked up an ankle injury just two days after returning for pre-season training.

A grade two ligament tear initially looked set to sideline him for six weeks, but was able to beat the doctors’ prognosis and get himself back fit in time for the Wetherby Road club’s final friendly outing, away at Cefn Druids.

He managed a brief cameo against Sutton United on the opening day of the season before coming off the bench at Hartlepool to supply the free-kick delivery from which Callum Howe nodded home Town’s late equaliser.

Another appearance as a substitute followed at Bromley, but Leesley then returned to the starting line-up for Tuesday’s clash with Barnet and claimed another assist as Simon Weaver’s men recorded their first victory of the campaign.

And with his team unbeaten in four and his injury frustrations now behind him, Leesley is targeting another three points at Aldershot on Saturday.

“We’re confident and we’re expecting to go and win at Aldershot,” the winger said.

“Like most of the games this season, it’s a bit of a step into the unknown, but there’s no point going all that way and worrying too much about the opposition, we just need to focus on ourselves.

“We’ve been playing well and picking up results so far, so we’ve got to fancy ourselves.

“From a personal point of view, it was a pretty rubbish start to pre-season and I was very frustrated to be out injured going into such a huge period for the club, but I’m feeling good now. The ankle is 100 per cent and I just can’t wait for the games.

“I’m pleased to have been able to contribute a couple of assists already but I always like to get off the mark with a goal as early as possible in the season, so that’s what I’m aiming for at Aldershot.

“A goal would definitely be nice, but another three points for the team would be even better.”

Everything you need to know about Aldershot.

Last season: Fifth in the National League. Lost on penalties to Ebbsfleet in play-off eliminator following a 1-1 draw.

Last time out: After an opening-day draw with Barnet was followed up with back-to-back defeats, the Shots recorded a maiden win and scored their first goals of the campaign in midweek, beating Dagenham & Redbridge 2-1 on home soil.

In the dug-out: Gary Waddock is in his second spell in charge of Aldershot, returning to the club in 2016. Has previously managed QPR, Wycombe Wanderers and Oxford United.

As a player, he represented the Republic of Ireland at international level and also turned out for the likes of QPR, Millwall and Luton Town.

Ones to watch: Scott Rendell (12 goals) and Shamir Fenelon (10) were the club’s leading scorers last term and will pose the greatest threat to James Belshaw’s net. Both men were on target during Tuesday’s triumph over Dagenham.

Previous meetings: Saturday’s clash will be the first competitive encounter between the two sides.

Any other business: The Shots will likely be taking on Town missing their two first-choice centre-halves. Skipper Karleigh Osborne (achilles) and George Fowler (knee) are both struggling with injuries.