The Shots visit to Eastbourne was their second pre-season fixture of the 23/24 campaign but would be the first outing for the majority of Aldershot’s first-team squad and a first look at all of Tommy Widdrington’s new signings that hadn’t been trialists.
Hady Ghandour led the line from the start and it didn’t take long for him to get an opportunity. He broke down the left-wing in the first minute, but his cutback wasn’t met by anybody in the middle.
A high press from Tommy Willard saw him winning the ball back in the opposition box. He feinted inside on his favoured right foot, but his powerful shot was just wide.
Aaron Jones – skippering the first-half side – was playing as a right-wingback and linked up well with the man who played there a lot last season: Ryan Glover, lining up in a more central position. Jones found Tyler Frost on the edge of the box in the 14th minute but his first-time effort was wide of the mark.
A sudden breakout of flying ants wasn’t the only pestering presence, however, as a Eastbourne saw the 20th minute mark as an opportunity to shift gears. Shiloh Remy looked to have been away for the hosts but Ben Shroll stood up well and ushered the winger off the ball to be easily collected by Jordi Van Stappershoef.
The Shots weren’t looking too fazed however and kept possession well. Cian Harries and Coby Rowe were comfortable on the ball, playing along the back line and Ollie Harfield was back to being an ever-present down the left flank.
For a couple of minutes from the 34th minute, there a number of half-chances for Aldershot but Frost, Ghandour and Willard couldn’t provide Harrison Faulkes with a real test.
The hosts would take the lead just before half-time, however. An attack down the left saw the ball played into the penalty spot along the floor, providing a comfortable finish for Eastbourne’s Trialist B to place the ball into the bottom corner.
A new XI lined up for Aldershot in the second-half as only Ben Shroll remained on the pitch. Zain Walker, Henry Ochieng and Josh Stokes were the first-teamers in action, with the side mainly made up of trialists. Henry Ochieng wore the armband.
There would be an early chance for one of the Shots’ trialists as a couple of minutes into action, Trialist F narrowly hit a free-kick from just outside the box over the bar.
Eastbourne’s first chance of the second-half fell to Leone Gravata. The winger broke down the left-wing and tried to dink the ball over Aldershot’s trialist ‘keeper but his effort was over the bar.
The second-half side, largely made up of trialists, were still able to keep possession fairly well but struggled to create chances. New signing Lorent Tolaj saw his first minutes of action for the Shots, coming on in the 70th minute.
On the 75th minute, Imran Uche hit a fantastic shot at goal for Borough. A half-volley on the edge of the box, it looked to be destined for the top corner but our trialist ‘keeper, Trialist A, pulled off a fantastic save to tip it over.
Keane Anderson was introduced in the 76th minute and almost made an instant impact. Tolaj surged forward but unable to break into the box, he laid it off to Anderson whose first-time effort needed to be saved well.
Tolaj had his first sight of goal just seconds before the end of the game. He twisted and turned on the edge of the box but his low-effort was blocked and cleared from danger as the Shots second pre-season fixture ended in defeat.
Shots first-half lineup: 1 Jordi Van Stappershoef, 2. Ben Shroll, 3. Ollie Harfield, 4. Theo Widdrington, 5. Coby Rowe, 6. Cian Harries, 7. Aaron Jones (c), 8. Tyler Frost, 9. Hady Ghandour, 10. Tommy Willard, 11. Ryan Glover.
Shots second-half lineup: 13. Trialist A (GK), 2. Ben Shroll, 12. Zain Walker, 14. Trialist B, 15. Trialist C (18. Keane Anderson 76′), 16. Trialist D, 17. Trialist E, 19. Henry Ochieng (c), 20. Trialist F (21. Lorent Tolaj 70’), 23. Josh Stokes, 24. Trialist G.
Attendance: 1165 (No official mention of away attendance)