JUSTIN Gardner, the Aveley boss, says he tried to "confuse" opposing managers during his side's 2-1 defeat to Thurrock on Tuesday night.

A handful of rival managers, including Paul Vaughan, of fellow Ryman North side Tilbury, were at Ship Lane for the game.

Mark Stimson's new-look Thurrock outfit edged out Aveley in a close game. His son Charlie, put Fleet in front after three minutes, heading in a Stuart Thurgood cross at the far post.

Aveley pegged Thurrock back 17 minutes later, when Billy Holland, who looked very sharp, shook off the attentions of a Fleet defender before cheekily chipping the ball over David Hughes.

Thurrock wrapped up the win when Lewis Perkins headed home a corner with 20 minutes to go, and might have doubled their lead in the dying moments when Matt Thomson curled just wide from 25 yards.

But Gardner claimed not to be interested in results at this stage, adding that his side would have won every pre-season game had he set them up to win.

Speaking after the game, the Millers boss said: "As an exercise in getting players sharp, I was happy with that.

"We had a few players missing from the starting line-up and a few that failed fitness tests before the game.

"So to have about five of your first team players missing and to come and play here, I thought we did well."

Striker Shane Oakley, who has 5 goals in three pre-season games, was amongst those who didn't feature, and was ruled out during the warm up.

Gardner added: "If it was a league game, Oakley would have played, but there's no point risking him for a friendly.

"I'm not into the results now. If I was, we would have won every game as I would have set up to win.

"I knew a lot of people would be coming to watch, so I wanted to confuse a few people."

In the other dug-out, Mark Stimson was pleased with his young sides performance and told the Gazette his crop of new boys are gelling well.

At times, his side enjoyed long spells of possession, moving the ball effectively with skipper Thurgood pulling the strings in the middle. They just seemed to lack a final ball though.

Stimson said: "It was another good work out. I thought Aveley played at a good tempo and we matched them."

New signing Sam Taylor, who played under Stimson at Grays Athletic featured in the second half, after signing from Witham Town earlier in the day.

Stimson added: "Pre-season has gone well. We've got a lot of new players, a lot of young players.

"We'll be as read as we can. We're always looking as well to see if there's any other players who can help us. We've just signed Sam Taylor so he gives us a bit more in the attacking areas."