Haywood Way, Aylesbury Attendance: 291
Match report courtesy of Ian Pluck
In contrast to the prolonged attempts to get this game on last season, where a combination of weather and match rearrangements caused 6 postponements, today’s match was played at the first time of asking, in warm sunshine on a firm but well prepared pitch.
Squad rebuilding has very obviously affected both sides, with only 5 Aylesbury United players in the starting line-up who started the last derby match in April, while only Ben Stevens of the home side appeared in that match.
Choosing to freshen up the team after Saturday’s narrow home defeat by Royston, Ellis Hercules and Reece Cameron both dropped to the bench to be replaced by the experience of Greg Williams and Jake Bewley, while the unavailable Lea Coulter and the injured Bruno Brito were replaced by former Moles Ollie Hogg and Sonny French.
The opening stages of the match saw the home side on the offensive, looking to make a fast start. However, the game soon settled down into a midfield battle, with little action of note in either penalty area.
The first talking point occurred in the 11th minute, when Taylor Collins was adjudged to have gone in late on home skipper Ben Stevens. A brief bout of handbags involving Collins and a couple of the home players was calmed down by the referee, followed by the issuing of a yellow card to Collins for the original foul. Ten minutes later and Collins was in the action again, volleying a Jake Bewley cross towards a suspiciously offside looking Olly Stanbridge, who couldn’t keep his shot down, directing it over the bar when unmarked.
Zaki Oualah was called into his first meaningful piece of action in the 26th minute, although a speculative volley from Kieran Turner didn’t really cause any concern. Two minutes later, a Bewley cross was headed down by Greg Williams, playing in a very unfamiliar centre forward role, into the path of the onrushing Sonny French; unfortunately his shot cleared the bar with ease.
The best chance so far fell to the Moles in the 31st minute. A long ball forward saw Turner outpace Bewley and crossed to the far post, where only good marshalling from Jack Wood held up Martin Griggs as he attempted to get an early shot in. He was forced to lay the ball back along the 6 yard line, where Bewley was first to the ball to clear the danger. Bewley was in the thick of the action again minutes later, when a mis-directed header across the penalty area fell to Griggs, but again fortunately his volley was straight at Oualah.
Play was held up for almost 5 minutes just before half time, when a late challenge from Lee Stobbs saw Jack Wood needing prolonged treatment before he bravely continued, Stobbs receiving a yellow card for the foul. From the restart from the half way line, Oualah almost embarrassed his opposite number in the Moles goal. His overhit free kick landed on the roof of Ashley Jenkins net, the keeper backpedalling furiously as the ball sailed over his head.
Half-time: Aylesbury FC 0-0 Aylesbury United
The first real action of the second half saw the game’s main talking point. As Ben Stevens cleared the ball from the edge of the penalty area, Collins was adjudged to have caught him late as he did in the first half. The home skipper appeared to be seriously injured, calling for the physio straight away, with his team mates surrounding the ref and demanding a red card, which he duly delivered. However, the magic sponge did its trick and Stevens was soon fit to continue!
On the hour, a long ball forward to Mark Lambert was laid back to Fitzgerald, but his shot from 20 yards was high, wide and not so handsome.
Shortly afterwards, United manager Glyn Creaser made his first change, bringing Reece Cameron on to replace the hard working Jordon Frederick. Choosing to stay with 3 in midfield, Cameron was deployed further forward alongside Sonny French as the Ducks sought a goal.
Five minutes after his arrival, it almost came; Cameron beat Stevens on the halfway line and advanced down the right, where his cross towards French was cleared by Danny Gordon. However, almost a carbon copy move in the 77th minute saw the Ducks finally take the lead. Stevens misjudged a header on half way, allowing Cameron to capitalise once again. This time French came short and received a pass, shimmied past two defenders and placed his left foot shot to Jenkins’ right and inside the post, to repeat his goal from last season’s match. 1-0 Aylesbury United
The hard working Ducks managed the game well in the final 15 minutes, the only real scare coming in injury time, when with 2 minutes added on a corner was cleared as far as Lambert, who couldn’t keep his shot down, the ball finishing in the field behind Oualah’s goal.
The final whistle sparked great delight on and off the pitch, as the players and supporters alike celebrated a long awaited first competitive victory against the Moles. Four wins out of 6 league matches leaves the Ducks in 6th position in the league with 12 points. To put it into context, it took until the middle of November last season for the Ducks to reach the same number of points. With no match next Saturday due to the early departure from the FA Cup last weekend, the next action is on Sat 10th Sep, when Bedford are the visitors to the ASM Stadium.