We were beaten 1-0 by Aldershot Town as we returned to action following the Covid outbreak in our squad.
On an afternoon when Kyle Wootton was denied by an incredible save, as well as missing a big chance of his own, Harrison Panayiotou's second-half goal was enough to win the day for the hosts.
Neal Ardley was without key players Cal Roberts, Connell Rawlinson and Damien McCrory for the trip and opted for a 4-3-3 formation.
Sam Graham partnered Alex Lacey in central defence, while Richard Brindley and Adam Chicksen occupied the full-back positions.
Jim O'Brien and Jake Reeves joined skipper Michael Doyle in central midfield, with Ruben Rodrigues, Enzio Boldewijn and Wootton leading the attack.
Wootton, who had earlier seen a finger injury bandaged up by our medical staff, claimed the game’s first shot on 14 minutes when he met O’Brien’s low corner with a first-time, left-footed effort only to see a Shots defender divert it wide for a corner.
10 minutes later, Rodrigues had a sight at goal when Sam Slocombe’s long kick forward caught the hosts’ defense napping. The midfielder chased after it but was unable to bring it under his spell in time as Town keeper Brad James got off his line in time to smother the danger.
It was proving to be a quiet and cagey first half on a pitch which was cutting up badly, but O’Brien came close to sparking the match into life when his half-volley from the edge of the area kissed the top of the bar on its way behind.
There were no changes at half-time and the first action of note after the break saw Lacey booked for a foul on Craig Tanner on 51 minutes.
Chances followed at either end as Kodi Lyons-Foster nodded over from a corner before we broke down the other end and Thomas stung James’ palms with a shot from inside the area.
But the game’s best chance was to follow on the hour as O’Brien released Brindley to the touchline with a perfect pass which was matched by Brindley’s pick-out of Wootton in the area. Uncharacteristically, the forward got his finish all wrong and sent the ball well wide from eight yards.
Town threatened a response three minutes later when they won a free-kick in a dangerous position, only for Tanner to curl the ball harmlessly wide.
But the hosts did have the lead shortly afterwards when they caught us out with a high press as we tried to play the ball out from the back, presenting Panayiotou with the opportunity to finish well from the edge of the area.
We came agonisingly close to producing a speedy response when Wootton met O’Brien’s corner with a powerful header which was superbly pushed wide by James.
Boldewijn replaced Rodrigues in Ardley’s first change, before Ben Turner and Elisha Sam came on for Graham and Thomas in a double switch on 78 minutes.
And Sam had a chance to restore parity six minutes later when he broke the offside trap and raced into the area before seeing his shot saved by James.
Despite four minutes of added time, that proved to be our final opportunity as we suffered defeat in Hampshire.