With time ticking away before Scarborough Athletic’s Evo-Stik opener at Kidsgrove, a number of players are making a late bid for a starting role.
Two of these striving for a berth in the team are Scarborough-based youngsters Nathan Cook and Josh Greening - both of whom caught the eye of boss Rudy Funk in Tuesday’s 3-1 friendly defeat of Pickering Town at Mill Lane.
Cook put in a composed performance in the centre of the park, while Greening’s lightning quick runs lit up the Boro attack.
And Boro still have players to step back into the squad, as Bryan Hughes, Tony Hackworth, Chris Bolder, Ryan Blott and Andy Milne all missed Tuesday’s outing, This competition for places means that Funk still has to paint a winning picture on a blank canvas with just a couple of pre-season fixtures remaining.
“I enjoyed it, there were a few challenged flying in, it may be pre-season but it is still a derby game,” he said.
“Pickering moved the ball well and gave us a good game, but we had some excellent individual performances out there.
“For the first 60-70 minutes we were fantastic. The passing, movement and the goals were all really great.
“You have to start thinking about the line-up for the Kidsgrove game, but so many players are coming in and staking a claim.
“Josh and Nathan both did brilliantly against Pickering and things like that make you put your thinking cap on again.
“We have a lot of players out at the moment so there is a lot to pick from, but it will still be an easy decision.
“It is about who is playing well. This isn’t about who has played well in the past because we want performances to take Scarborough Athletic forward as a club.”
With Pikes boss Jimmy Reid absent, Steve Brown took the reins and he was left a little deflated by his team’s efforts.
“I was really disappointed in our team and the players have been told that.
“We stood off them and showed them too much respect, you can’t do that to good players.
“At the times when we did play our better stuff we were a real threat.
“We expect that for 90 minutes because 10 or 20 minutes won’t win you a football match.
“We have two pre-season games left and we have to be ready for that main event, which is just around the corner.”
There was some concern for Pickering striker Liam Salt, who was carried off the park after a 50-50 challenge with Boro’s Rory Prendergast.
Brown added: “Liam’s knee is swollen, which is a concern, especially as he is our talisman. We don’t want him missing at any stage, let alone early in the season.”
Boro made a lively start to the game and they moved head when some glorious link-up play between Tyler Collishaw and Matty Plummer fed James Bennett, the midfielder clinically rolling home.
Funk’s visitors continued to set the pace, with the swift passing of Cook, Pete Davidson and Bennett creating a plethora of chances for Boro’s raiding frontmen.
Gary Bradshaw went close with a header and a shot, before Davidson ghosted onto a Plummer ball, only for Arran Reid to make a miraculous save.
Bradshaw did finally bag his customary goal when he took advantage of another Plummer ball and dinked it home.
Pickering started the new half in a much better frame of mind, Joe Danby was unlucky not to get onto the end of a Steve Baxter cross and then Liam Salt planted a header that shuddered the Boro bar.
That was Salt’s last real contribution as he was forced off the park, though it didn’t stunt Pickering’s attacking flow as Baxter nipped in between two Boro defenders and trimmed the arrears to one.
Boro keeper Jason White made a great save from Lewis Taylor to keep Boro ahead, before the visitors managed to wrap things up.
Arran Reid’s sprayed free-kick across his own box was pounced on by Boro and Henry Sibenge took advantage, outpacing the Pikes’ backline and stroking into the net.