Aldershot saw of higher-league opposition as a first-half goal from Lorent Tolaj earned the Shots a win on their final outing of the 23/24 pre-season.
The hosts saw the first sight of goal in the third minute as Scott Kashket blasted a shot wide of the mark from close-range.
But Aldershot began causing problems and by the tenth minute, were unlucky to not be in front. A lovely move in the sixth minute started with Stuart O’Keefe winning possession deep into Sutton territory. A neat one-two between Lorent Tolaj and Josh Stokes saw Jack Barham put through, but his clever, low strike was saved by Jack Rose’s legs, as Tyler Frost headed narrowly wide from the resulting corner.
And a few minutes later, Barham came even closer. He received the ball in the box and shot, but his effort smacked the post. Tolaj was first to the rebound but at full-stretch, his volley was well saved by Rose.
Kashket was causing the Shots backline a few problems and almost created the opener for Sutton. He worked some space for himself in the box and dangerously cut the ball back across goal but Aaron Jones was in position at the back-post clear the danger.
Tolaj scored his first pre-season goal in Tuesday’s win over Chelsea and was looking lively as he looked for another this afternoon. He launched a speculative first-time half-volley from 30 yards out that had Rose scrambling backwards to tip the ball over the bar.
And just a few minutes later, in the 23rd minute, he found the back of the net to give the Shots the lead. Receiving the ball at his feet with his back to goal, he showed quick feet to turn his opponent and blasted the ball into the far corner with tremendous power.
Sutton almost immediately got back into the game, however, and no surprises it was via Kashket. The nimble attacker had found some free space in the area, but his shot dragged inches wide of the post.
Barham was dominant in the air for the Shots, despite not being the tallest on the pitch by a long margin, and came close in the 39th minute with a fantastic looping header with his back to goal. Rose had to once again scramble to tip the ball over the bar.
Just before the break, Kashket had to have one more pop at goal. This time he acrobatically volleyed towards goal from close-range but Jordi Van Stappershoef – who hadn’t had much to do all half – was equal to it.
Half-time saw no changes as the Shots looked to carry on playing the way they did in the first-half. It was Sutton who had the first chance, though as Harry Smith headed wide five minutes into the second-half. Maxi Mullins had done fantastically to stop Smith on the counter but the danger wasn’t cleared as the target-man couldn’t find the target.
Aldershot were playing some really nice football and Tolaj was seemingly always involved. He flicked the ball over the head of Jack Taylor on the turn and drove towards goal. He played it to Barham but this time, he couldn’t quite get the right connection and the ball went harmlessly wide.
The Shots were controlling the game and despite the usual pre-season flurry of substitutions, continued to do so. Trilaist A drove down the left wing and found Tyler Frost on the second attempt, but Frost’s shot was blasted over the bar.
Barham continued to look bright and dangerous until eventually being taken off in the 82nd minute with a number of other chances in the second-half but he couldn’t find the target.
A bit of late pressure from the home side was dealt with well by a firm Shots defence, who would claim a clean sheet and win in the final game of their pre-season campaign.
Shots lineup: 1. Jordi Van Stappershoef, 2. OIlie Harfield (12. Trialist A 64′), 3. Maxwell Mullins, 4. Theo Widdrington (14. Trialist B 77′), 6. Cian Harries, 7. Aaron Jones, 8. Tyler Frost (18. Henry Ochieng 77′), 9. Lorent Tolaj (16. Kwame Thomas 59′), 17. Jack Barham (20. Keane Anderson 82′), 19. Stuart O’Keefe (11. Ryan Glover 59′), 23. Josh Stokes (10. Tommy Willard 59′).
Subs not used: 13. Finlay Westen