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Match Report

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Aylesbury lost ground in the playoff race with a narrow defeat at fellow contenders Bury Town.

Going into the game the Ducks were without the trio of Kevin Mealor (injured), Mark Boyce and Ross Taylor (unavailable), and although it's some well used reasoning this season, it certainly disrupted United's rhythm as a very different team took to the field from that of Wednesday's.

In Mealor's absence, Craig Henney was brought in for his first start since the 1st November, playing in a rather unfamiliar right sided role. The game's first action saw him go tumbling in the box, but the defender was rightly deemed to have played the ball.

With their first forward push Bury had Tom Vincent's crossbar rattled, as a powerful cross-cum-shot from the left hit the bar before going out.

The early stages were rather open and Aylesbury were causing their hosts problems, Nathan Graham in particular proving a nuisance. On ten minutes his low shot was gathered in by Marcus Garnham at the near post to bring to a close a mad scramble which had resulted in Garnham fumbling Marsh's pull back.

The two sides were similarly matched in that both looked dangerous going forward, but were having problems organisationally in defence, and United were nearly punished for not being anywhere near tight enough on their men on nineteen minutes. A long ball was well brought down by Liam Barrett who quickly fed a completely unmarked Lee Reed, but he could only shoot straight at Vincent.

Midway through the first half Bury made a change, replacing central defender and captain Lee Bullard with Callum Kearns. Whether Bullard was injured or not, he had been struggling his way through the game before his withdrawal. Following the change the vastly experienced Gavin Johnson stepped back into defence, and from that point on Aylesbury found a much tougher wall to get past.

The remainder of the half generally belonged to Bury. A deep free-kick dropped to Russell Short who hammered the follow-up sky high, Vincent was then called upon to make a superb save and turn Smith's well placed free-kick wide two minutes later.

United were unable to make any kind of impact during this period, and every time the ball went forward they found the door firmly shut in their faces. Another wayward Aylesbury pass was blocked and quickly the ball was worked downfield, before a corner was eventually forced. The delivery was badly scuffed but still the ball was able to travel all the way into the area, and in the ensuing scramble Lee Reed squeezed the ball home past two defenders and goalkeeper on the line. 0-1

It was the scrappiest of scrappy goals, but with the game lacking in genuine quality, the nature of the opener came as little surprise.

Aylesbury looked to assert themselves on the game and had a couple of bright moments before the break. Hawkins headed Mead's cross goalwards after good work from Graham and Marsh before that, but his header lacked power.

The Ducks' top scorer should have done better moments later when Graham was released by Marsh before cutting back right into Hawkins' path, but he scuffed his effort from six-yards and Garnham could easily claim.

United were depleted yet further five minutes before half-time when Ben Stevens limped out of the game, and Mark Jones replace him at right-back, to add another to the ?playing out of position' list.

Half-time: Aylesbury 0-1 Bury Town

The second half as a spectacle was truly dire. Aylesbury were poor, and Bury weren't much better, but did just enough of what was required to claim the three points.

Happy to sit back and hit Aylesbury on the counter, it was a tactic which worked well for the home side, and they might have done better early on when Short broke forward, but with plenty of space opening up in front of him he over hit the final ball and the threat was gone.

They should have had the match sewn up on fifty minutes when one raking pass picked out Barrett with only Vincent to beat. Although the United stopper was quickly off his line to narrow the angle, the striker's finish was woeful and went well wide.

Aylesbury were barely able to muster an effort on goal in the second period, Marsh struck a follow-up high and wide of the target, and Hawkins flicked a weak header goalwards in what were half chances at best.

Their best moment of the half came courtesy of Graham, who got the ball down and drove at the heart of the defence, but once again the superb Johnson was there to deflect his shot harmlessly out for a corner.

Bury followed that up with a couple of speculative efforts which caused Vincent no problems, the second taking a couple of ricochets which carried it through to the goalkeeper, as the game drifted by.

Worryingly, Craig Henney appeared to suffer a recurrence of his hamstring troubles and was replaced by Steve Miles for the final twenty minutes. Just as it seemed Aylesbury were returning to a full strength squad the sad saga of the season continues, with yet more injury problems to contend with.

The game continued to decline in eventfulness, the only highlight of a pretty lifeless close a first time shot from Lee Reed which, again, was straight at Vincent.

Bury deserved their win on a disappointing afternoon from Aylesbury's point of view. With another huge test of their mettle against Sutton Coldfield to follow, manager Mark Eaton will be hoping for good news on the injured parties and that his side can produce a bit more on the day.