Holdsworth continues travels with Aldershot TownBy Jon Couch
January 10, 2013
DEAN HOLDSWORTH admits he was not surprised Aldershot Town were handed a trip to the north east to face Middlesbrough in the FA Cup - as they have been made to visit just about every other part of the country this season.
The Shots have been taken on a grand tour of England in cup competitions this term after being sent to the Midlands to take on Wolves in the Carling Cup, the south west to face Plymouth and Exeter in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy, the north west to play Fleetwood in the FA Cup second round, and now to Teesside to do battle with Tony Mowbray's Championship high-fliers.
On reflection, an away day at a famous club like Middlesbrough with a 35,000-capacity stadium was a decent enough pull for the Shots in their first fourth-round appearance in the FA Cup since the club's reformation in 1992, although the 548-mile round journey to the Riverside Stadium certainly took the shine off it for some.
As a player, Holdsworth reached the semi-final of the FA Cup with Bolton in 2000 and although he is delighted to be returning to the Riverside, there is still perhaps a tinge of disappointment at not being paired with a top-flight club.
“Middlesbrough is a fantastic club and it’s a fabulous stadium to play in,” said the Shots boss. “I know a lot of old players there and the chairman Steve Gibson is a fabulous fella so I’m really looking forward to going back.
“We’ve travelled the length and breadth of the country in the cups this season, with Wolverhampton, Plymouth, Exeter, Fleetwood and now Middlesbrough, it seems to be the year for travel.
“Yes, we could have got a Premier League side but we are probably being a little bit greedy, it’s still a fantastic draw for the club.
"First though we have three cup finals in the league to concentrate on and our focus turns to them for now."
The first of those is the visit of Accrington Stanley to the EBB Stadium on Saturday (January 12) and Holdsworth knows three points is vital to continue the club's upturn in form and subsequent climb up the League 2 table.
Just three defeats in 14 matches have given fans renewed hope of safety, but with the Shots still within reach of the bottom two places Holdsworth knows his men cannot take their foot of the gas.
His bid has been boosted this week by the arrival of experienced campaigner Oliver Risser.
The Namibian international, who captained Paolo Di Canio's Swindon Town to the League 2 title last season, joins the Shots on a permanent deal until the end of the season.
Risser, 32 who can play in midfield or defence, featured for the Robins last season against his brother Wilko, who spent the second half of last term at the EBB Stadium.
Holdsworth said: “He has got an incredible work ethic and if there was such a thing as a bargain out there then we’ve got one.”
Meanwhile, winger Alex Rodman has signed a loan extension to keep him at York City until the end of the season.