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Shahid Azeem – We must stick together

By Jon Couch,

ALDERSHOT Town chairman Shahid Azeem has called for a united front to help steer the Shots clear of what would be a costly relegation.

The Shots have been play-off semi-finalists for the last two seasons but Gary Waddock’s men have now gone 11 matches without a win in the National League – a run which has seen them slip into the dreaded drop zone, three points off safety.

A lengthy injury list has also hampered their progress, not to mention a series of budget cuts, which has forced the club to dispense with the services of chief executive Laura Smith and assistant manager James Rowe this last fortnight.
Naturally, this has all raised concern among the Shots faithful, but Azeem insists that spirits remain high at the EBB Stadium and has called on everyone at the club to stick together and help the Shots through their tough spell.

“Until it’s mathematically impossible then there’s absolutely everything to play for,” he said. “After two play-off seasons, expectation was very high but this is a tough league we are in.

Expectation

“To have a good season you need an element of luck too and we haven’t had any. We’ve had countless injuries including some key players like Scott Rendell, Nick Arnold, Karleigh Osborne and George Fowler, for long periods. You just couldn’t make it up.

“After everything we’ve been through, it’s vital now that everyone rallies round to get behind Gary and the boys and help us through it.”

The surprise departures of the chief executive and Waddock’s No.2 Rowe has freed up some funds for the Shots boss to delve into the transfer market to pick up former Woking midfielder John Goddard on a free transfer from Stevenage and the return of a fans favourite to help lift spirits around north Hampshire, winger Bernard Mensah, who arrives on loan from Bristol Rovers until the end of the season.

Up to now, Waddock has grown quite used to not being able to fill a five-man substitutes’ bench with Azeem insisting the manager doesn’t want to inflict “false expectation” on the young academy players pushing for a first-team chance.

With players now slowly returning to the fold, Azeem is sure the Shots will have enough to launch a late revival, but has urged fans to give players, and Mensah in particular, time to settle back into the fold.

He added: “There’s a real buzz about Mens [Mensah] coming back. He’s a lovely guy and a great character, but he’s one player in a squad who hasn’t played much football of late.

“It’s going to be tough, but we know we have the manager and the players to help us get back to winning ways and after the season we’ve had, it will be a sweeter feeling for staying up.”

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