MATCH REPORT: Sutton United 1 Aldershot Town 2 (A) (Pre-Season)

Aldershot Town returned to Farnborough FC’s Easy As HGV Stadium on Saturday evening, to continue their 2021/22 pre-season campaign with what was always going to be a tough challenge, taking on last season’s Vanarama National League Champions, Sutton United.

The Shots starting XI included two changes from last Saturday, with Kodi Lyons-Foster and new signing Corie Andrews coming into the side.

Sutton boss Matt Gray has kept eighteen of last season’s title winning playing squad and, to date, added five quality additions, including Enzio Boldewijn from Notts County, who started along with three other new signings and a trialist.

It was the U’s that got the goalscoring under way as early as the fourth minute, when Omar Bugiel pounced on an attempted back pass by Alfie Saunders and beat Mitch Walker with a crisp low shot from just inside the area.

On 10 minutes, Shots defender George Fowler bravely blocked an on-target effort from Donovan Wilson. At the other end, Mo Bettamer produced Town’s first on target effort in the 17th minute, following good work on the left by Andrews, only for Craig Eastmond to produce a block equal to Fowler’s.

On the 20 minute mark, Wilson and Bugiel combined well again, with the latter almost squeezing home from close range, Kinsella diving in to deflect it behind for a corner.

The game began to settle down with Sutton asking most of the questions, but Aldershot looking resolute in defence. However, as half time approached, the U’s breached the Shots defence three times in quick succession. First Alastair Smith, produced a driven low shot, well saved by Walker, then Wilson shot just wide and Korboa volleyed over. Shots briefly rallied and Andrews pounced on a loose ball inside the penalty area, only for his shot to deflect behind for a corner and Sutton led 1-0 at the break.

Aldershot Town began the second half with the same 11, whilst Sutton replaced one trialist left back with another.

On 55 minutes, Lyons-Foster’s snapshot produced a fine reaction save from U’s keeper Brad House, who finger-tipped it over the bar for a corner. As the game approached the hour mark, Shots’ pulled, as Andrews strode onto a cross whipped in from the left by skipper Lewis Kinsella, to guide home his first Aldershot Town goal on debut.

United were quick to respond, with the dangerous Wilson calling Walker into action, once again, deflecting it behind for a corner. Soon after, U’s substitute David Ajiboye let fly with a powerful effort which Walker could only parry into the path of Bugiel, who slotted home, only for an offside flag to follow.

Shots’ boss Danny Searle made a triple substitution on 67 minutes, with Willard & two trialists coming on for Saunders, Harris and Andrews. Just a few minutes later, he made three more, with Tommy Willard and two more trialists replacing Phillips, Lyons-Foster and Edser. Sutton made six changes themselves.

As the game approached the 80 minute mark, Aldershot won a penalty as good link up play between Alfy Whittingham and Trialist F, set Trialist D away into the penalty area. He drew a foul from a Sutton trialist, but sadly got injured in the process and had to come off. With no subs left to bring on, there was an unexpected debut appearance in red and blue for Shots coach, Michael Koopowitz, who came on to replace him for the closing stages.

There were 83 minutes on the clock when Whittingham finally stepped up to smash home the spot-kick. House dived the right way, but Whittingham’s strike found the corner and gave Town the lead.

Beautyman let fly from the edge of the box on 85 minutes, but his effort was always going over and that proved to be Sutton’s final effort on goal as Aldershot Town held on for the 2-1 win!

Aldershot Town XI: 1 M Walker, 2 G Fowler, 3 L Kinsella (C), 4 J Harris, (Trialist B 67′), 5 G Phillips, (Trialist E 75′), 6 K Lyons-Foster, (Trialist C 75), 7 A Whittingham, 8 T Edser, (Trialist B 75), 9 M Bettamer, (Trialist D, 61), (Koopowitz 83), 10 A Saunders, (Trialist F 67), 11 C Andrews (Willard 67)