Aldershot Town continue their pre-season preparations this Saturday with a visit to The Beveree to face National League South Play-Off semi-finalists Hampton and Richmond Borough.
The Beavers finished seventh in the table last season but, due to the ineligibility of Poole Town and Hungerford Town, qualified for a Play-Off against eventual Final winners Ebbsfleet United.
They may have lost 4-2 on aggregate but manager Alan Dowson – who last month signed a full-time contract with the Club after 20 years as a teacher – exceeded expectations in their first season at National League level following promotion from the Ryman Premier Division last summer.
Hampton have begun their pre-season with two goalless draws, against Partick Thistle and Walton & Hersham, but Dowson said: “I’m satisfied with the way we kept the clean sheet, last season we couldn’t buy one so that’s a start. The next match against Aldershot will be the first real test for this squad. We’re all looking forward to it as it’ll sort out some of the players.
“I played alongside Aldershot boss Gary Waddock when I was at Millwall, and I know how he likes to play so it should be a really good game. I know we haven’t scored yet this preseason season, but I’m not worried about that yet as we’ve still much to do in training before the season starts.”
Dowson has already made some impressive additions to his squad this summer, including former Woking and Wycombe Wanderers midfielder – and Shots trialist – Max Kretzschmar, 6ft 4in central-defenders Charlie Wassmer (ex Crawley Town) and Romanian Claudiu Vilcu, ex-Southend United striker Harry Crawford, and Ryan Moss, who scored 25 goals for Kingstonian last season.
They join existing squad members Josh Casey, a former Shots youth team player who plays left-back or left-wing, Australian centre-back Sam Gallagher, former AFC Wimbledon winger Brendan Kiernan, and wideman Jerome Federico who has also played for both Woking and Wycombe Wanderers.
Ex Newport County and AFC Wimbledon striker Christian Jolley also remains at the Club, as does Duncan Culley, who scored for Shortwood United in their FA Cup victory against The Shots in 2013. Also staying are defenders Michael Kamara and Tom Jelley, plus midfielders Nathan Collier and Leon Solomon.
Billy Bishop is currently Dowson’s only senior goalkeeper, but former Shots loanee Jonny Henly featured as a trialist against Thistle last week.
The Shots return from a three-day training camp at the University of Bath on Friday morning, and are expected to include trialists Frazer Shaw, Jack Cook and Foday Nabay in the squad which travels to The Beveree.
Kick-off is 3pm. Admission is £7 for adults and £4 for concessions.