Tom Derry may have poached a late equaliser for Aldershot Town at Conference South title contenders Sutton United, but other trialists look to have played their way out of Andy Scott’s reckoning.
Scott awarded starts to five contract hopefuls on Tuesday evening at Gander Green Lane, but after a lacklustre first half he was forced to re-introduce established regulars Jordan Roberts, Mark Molesley and Glenn Wilson to rescue a result.
“The tempo wasn’t there in the first half, and we didn’t work hard enough,” was Scott’s damning verdict of a side featuring former Gillingham striker Derry alongside Bognor Regis Town forward Dan Thompson, Three Bridges centre-half Owen Roberts, Nigerian midfielder Kazeem Kareem and ex-Barnet goalkeeper Nick Jupp.
“We had a few lads come in on trial and they didn’t show the intensity of desire that we were looking for.
"I’ve given them the opportunity to play for this football club, and if they want to take it, it’s up to them.
"In the first half they certainly didn’t do that, and we looked a better side all round when our more experienced players came on.”
Jupp, at least, appears to be in pole position to become Phil Smith’s deputy in goal, after several strong saves restricted the hosts to just one goal during a dominant spell at the end of the first half.
Nonetheless, that period brought the opening goal, when the defence failed to either intercept Louis John’s floated pass or pick up Jamie Taylor’s run, allowing him to score against his former team with a deft lob.
A degree of urgency was rediscovered after the break but it was only in the 83rd minute that Shots restored parity.
Derry pounced to score from six yards after Hoban’s back-pass exposed the hosts’ defence and sparked a series of ricochets which eventually fell invitingly for a composed finish.
Replacement keeper Dan Thomas also acquitted himself well in the closing stages, but Scott will now begin the process of refining his squad for the opening day Conference Premier visit of Altrincham on August 9.
Saturday’s final home pre-season game against League Two AFC Wimbledon on Saturday may have even come too late.
Derry et al were handed 24 minutes to impress the manager on Saturday as the Shots continued their pre-season campaign with a 1-0 away victory at Conference South side, Staines Town.
Leading by Brett Williams’ perfectly-executed penalty on 18 minutes – his fourth goal in three matches – the Shots looked assured and relatively comfortable throughout and should have doubled their lead late on when Thompson somehow headed wide from Derry’s cross from the right.
Staines, though, provided the back four an adequate test at the other end with top scorer Louis Theophanous producing a spectacular goal-line clearance from Jaydon Gibbs and Luke Neville hooking a late effort over the bar from six yards out.
Scott said: “I thought we looked better with the shape we had. It was a good test and an example of what other teams might do and how we’ve got to work to get on the ball.
"When we moved the ball properly and passed it well we created some good chances, got into good areas and looked pretty dynamic.
“Maybe last year we had senior players who were allowed to get away with mistakes, but we've got men now. It’s about keeping standards.”
Shots (v Sutton): Jupp (Thomas 68); Hatton, O Roberts, Barker (Wilson 68), Tonkin; Forbes (Rudolph 68), Diallo, Kareem (Molesley 68); Derry, Scott (J Roberts 46), Thompson. Subs: Oastler, Lathrope, Williams, Gibbs.