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Match Report

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Aylesbury United opened their Southern League campaign with a trip to Halesowen Town - the first ever meeting between the two sides. There were no surprises in Paul Curtis' line-up - Dean Powles replaced the injured Greg Williams at right-back, but the make-up of the team was identical to against Leighton Town the previous week.

Despite a good start by the visiting Ducks, during which Paul Edgeworth headed a Daniel Mead cross wide, and Dean Powles shot over, it was Halesowen who got their season off to a flyer with a goal after ten-minutes. Paul Lamb lost the ball cheaply in midfield, and Jason Moore ran through on goal. His initial effort was well blocked by the outrushing Jack Rashid, but Moore produced a sublime finish to net the rebound over the stranded keeper. 1-0 Halesowen

Aylesbury were always going to find the going tough from that point, and so it proved. They did compete well though, and were the superior team for the remainder of the half - well, in efforts on goal anyway. A clever move down the left-flank resulted in Dean Cracknell laying the ball back to Lamb, who shot weakly wide of the post, on twenty-five minutes, before Cracknell himself had a go - slotting the ball over the bar.

Halesowen were a menace to the Ducks defence, as they all too often found themselves with time and space. Rashid was forced to make a smart stop at his near-post, as a Halesowen player wasn't closed down well enough.

Aylesbury then saw their best chance at an equaliser go begging. A quick counter-attack released Meshach Cole, and as he raced towards goal he tried to fire the ball home at the near post, when a square ball to the unmarked Mead might have been the better option. Cole's eventual shot still required a save from the impressive Mark Shiels in Halesowen's goal.

Halesowen then came close to doubling their lead, as Lewis Baker headed a looping effort onto the bar. As the half drew to an end Dave Haywood tried a first-time effort which was always rising over the bar, and Neil Champelovier volleyed a shot well over.

Half-time: Halesowen 1-0 Aylesbury

The promise of United's first half competitiveness unfortunately did not prove enough to spur United on to get the equaliser the fans so craved. Indeed there was little in the way of goalscoring chances at the start of the first half for Aylesbury. It was Halesowen instead who took the initiative and seized another goal. Some poor defending from a free-kick allowed Steve Pope to nip in and fire home a thunderbolt of a strike. 2-0 Halesowen

Aylesbury's spectacular collapse was complete four-minutes later, as the home side netted for the third time. Rashid spilled a ball under pressure (or perhaps a foul) and Moore was once more on-hanf to gleefully score a rebound. 3-0 Halesowen

The Yeltzmen could have further added to their scoreline, as the tricky Jimmy Haarhof caused Aylesbury problems. First his diving header missed the target, then his driving run into the area brought an excellent save from Rashid.

The game reached a slow conclusion, as both sides' substitutes played a part, but there was another twist in the match yet. Edgeworth, so ineffective in his right-midfield berth he had occupied for much of the game, collected the ball, waltzed past three challenges and finished with aplomb, in off the post. 3-1 Halesowen

The goal was of little relief to the weary Aylesbury faithful, who at half-time were full of praise and optimism at their sides courageous style of the first period. It's early days yet though, and there were glimmers of encouragement from the team today. Tuesday's match against Hitchin may hold more answers as we look to asssess the real ability of this Aylesbury United team.