The Oval, Bedworth Attendance: 187
Referee: Mr A. Sheffield (Walsall)
Aylesbury set up their most exciting climax to the season in years with this win at Bedworth United. With just three games remaining the Ducks still have a chance of clinching a playoff place, but likely need to win all three.
Once again Aylesbury had to do things the hard way though, having apparently shot themselves in the foot when trailing 1-0 at half-time, but a dramatic late comeback saved the day.
The Ducks had dominated the opening twenty minutes without seriously threatening Andy Kemp's goal, a couple of early crosses and a low ball into the box came to nothing. Leon Gutzmore then won a corner which Nick Leach fired wide after the ball was cleared to him.
Andy Shed was millimetres away from giving his side the lead when he just couldn't stretch far enough to connect with Richard Pringle's low ball. Moments later Pringle beat two men on the byline before driving the ball across goal, forcing Kemp to parry away.
On 20 minutes Bedworth had their first chance, through their only player who had posed a threat ? the lively winger Luke Baker. A free-kick was played into his feet but his quick shot was comfortably fielded by Tom Vincent.
Ten minutes before half-time and disaster struck as the home side were gifted the lead. Vincent suffered a rush of blood to the head in racing out to meet a through ball, which Baker beat him to and calmly walked the ball into the empty net. 1-0 Bedworth
There was a lengthy stoppage before half-time when Craig Davies was stretchered off following a clash with Shed, and Bedworth were forced into their second substitution of the afternoon.
The Ducks did raise their game in the closing minutes of the half, but had no time to mount a genuine attack and went in at the break a goal down.
Half-time: Bedworth 1-0 Aylesbury
Aylesbury's start to the second half was not great, and they had to withstand some strong Bedworth pressure in the opening stages. Substitute Tom Starky fired over after Tom Vincent had been unable to get any distance in his attempted punch from a corner kick.
Three minutes later Adam Kinder was given time to turn and shoot, but Vincent made a good diving catch to his right.
The Ducks were totally flat at this time, and looked unable to raise their game enough to come back into the match or even threaten the Bedworth goal. Their only real effort of note in the first twenty minutes of the second period was a Pringle header which hit the side-netting after Shed's lobbed cross-shot.
But raise their game is exactly what Aylesbury did in the last fifteen minutes with a dramatic late comeback, spurred on by a goal almost from nothing.
A free-kick for offside against Bedworth was launched into the box, where foraying centre-back Carl Kavanagh delivered a great cross to Ben Stevens to head ball back across goal, and Leon Gutzmore, on his first start since February, nodded home the equaliser. 1-1
Suddenly Aylesbury were a different team, and Gutzmore should have given his side the lead seconds later when he was played clean though, but with only the keeper to beat his shot lacked conviction, and Kemp was able to save. The resulting corner was then headed just over by Leach.
For all their renewed attacking promise, the Ducks were nearly caught out again at the other end. Vincent came out to meet Ben Porter, only to be lobbed with an effort reminiscent of goals conceded earlier in the season, but thankfully this one dropped over the bar to safety.
Ten minutes before the end and Aylesbury had the lead. Liam Smyth's low free-kick across the box caught Bedworth's defence completely off guard, and Kavanagh nipped in with the faintest of touches to divert the ball in off the far post to send the travelling Ducks into raptures. 2-1 Aylesbury
The Ducks continued to press, and good work from Andy Shed on the left set up Stevens with a shooting chance, but he lashed an effort over the bar.
But once again there was threat from Bedworth at the other end, when a corner kick caused an almighty scramble in the penalty area, before the ball was scrambled away.
Late on Gutzmore found himself one-on-one with Kemp again, although from a wider angle this time, but once again the outcome was the same with the keeper saving. Shed was first to the rebound but went for placement and Kemp was able to gather.
But the best was well and truly saved for last as Richard Pringle served up goal of the season. Taking advantage of a poor touch by the last Bedworth defender, he flicked the ball up with two touches (one with his heel) before unleashing an unstoppable crashing volley which gave Kemp absolutely no chance. Even the Bedworth fans were applauding. 3-1 Aylesbury
The goal sealed the points in emphatic fashion, and ensured the push for a playoff place will go right to the wire and keep the excitement going for a while longer yet.