Bell Close, Leighton Buzzard Attendance: 142
Aylesbury bounced back from the disappointment of their midweek defeat by Romulus with a tremendous 2-1 win over playoff hopefuls Arlesey Town and move off the foot of the table for the first time since the opening week of the season.
Goals from Robert Bartley, atoning for his sending off in the week, and Ben Clarke, on only his second United appearance of the season put the Ducks two-goals ahead and although the visitors pulled a goal back, Aylesbury stuck to their guns with a determined performance to clinch the result.
The opening exchanges were fairly evenly matched as both sides had a couple of half-chances, Luke Gregson scuffed a shot straight through to Sillitoe before the Blues? midfielder had to leave the field injured and be replaced by Adam Turner.
Moments later a helped on free-kick was sent into the path of United?s McBride and from a difficult angle he tried an early shot but couldn?t control it and the ball flew well over.
Arlesey were generally making the better of what few chances were on offer, and it was Turner who had the next effort with a long ranger which was easy for Sillitoe.
Quite how the visitors didn?t score gave reason for inquest seven minutes later after one of a number of free-kicks conceded by United on the edge of the box throughout the game caused problems. Glenn Garner blasted the ball at Sillitoe who couldn?t hold it, and the ball dropped to ex-Duck Carl Kavanagh 5-yards out but his shot somehow hit the Aylesbury keeper and went over.
Five minutes later another free-kick concession lead to the best save of the match with Lee Wilson bending the ball goalwards only to be denied by Sillitoe?s flying fingertip wide.
A third set play saw Garner blast straight into the wall this time before United finally applied some pressure of their own by forcing two corners in quick succession but neither came to anything.
For once this season, Aylesbury were definitely getting some good fortune in this match and two minutes from half-time lady luck shone again to keep the ball out. Another former Aylesbury player, Chris Marsh, produced an excellent first time cross which came all the way across to Wilson whose effort struck the inside of the top of the post and bounced clear with Sillitoe well beaten.
Then, quite against the run of play, the Ducks took the lead ? and once again fortuitous circumstances were involved. Lewis McBride?s corner kick was right into the heart of the six-yard area which caught the Arlesey defence out, and the ball struck Bartley and ricocheted through a ruck of players into the net. 1-0 Aylesbury
It was the perfect way for United to end the half and gave them the springboard they needed to push on with confidence ahead of the second period.
Half-time: Aylesbury 1-0 Arlesey
After a lot of ranting and raving coming from the Arlesey dressing room could clearly be heard around Bell Close, it was the visitors who started the second half on the front foot.
Another free-kick conceded was swung in from the right where it bypassed everyone and eventually came to Marsh who headed wide from beyond the far post.
Soon after the ball was headed on for Garner in the area but, not for the first time, he was too ponderous on the ball and the Aylesbury defence were able to clear.
Such are the rigours of non-league football, this was Arlesey?s 9th game in 21 days and at times they looked jaded after the break, and United?s pace down the flanks often proved a threat on the counter-attack.
It paid dividends as Aylesbury were able to score a second in just that manner. The ball was sent upfield to Pringle who controlled expertly before playing in Clarke who went on a tantalising run into the box and with the visiting defence backing off struck a right-footed shot which took a deflection and bobbled into the net past Patching. 2-0 Aylesbury
For the first time in a long time United held a two-goal advantage, so they could have been forgiven for not knowing what to do in the circumstances ? but the team did a good job and pushed on in search of a third.
Nash?s left-footed free-kick was fired straight at Patching, before another dribble from Clarke ended with a shot which flew right across the face of goal.
Arlesey?s finishing continued to let them down, this time Stuart Sinclair the guilty party as he could only lift the ball over the bar from 10-yards out after a corner kick had initially been blocked at close range.
His next effort, whether intentional or not, was a wicked cross-cum-shot that had to be smartly tipped over by Sillitoe.
Seconds later the visitors were denied a penalty for what they believed was handball against debutant Jack Wood, who had entered the fray earlier in the half for the injured Montgomery.
The game was starting to open up with chances now coming at either end. Clarke burst forward and powered a header wide, before Sillitoe did well to come off his line and smother the ball at the feet of Marsh after Abbey?s flick on.
Another dangerous Aylesbury counter-attack again came down the left through Clarke, who ran at Arlesey?s tiring defence before seeing his shot blocked, the ball breaking for McBride whose volley was acrobatically saved.
Once again, United got the rub of the green as a goalmouth melee from a throw-in flicked into the area ended with Arlesey, and O?Sullivan in particular, unable to squeeze the ball home.
Eventually the visitors had to find a way through, and, after so many hadn?t paid off previously, it was always likely to come from a free-kick. O?Sullivan lined up a kick and struck it straight into the net, seemingly through the wall to reduce the arrears. 1-2 Arlesey
The goal might have provided an impetus for the Blues to kick on from, but instead of looking to retrieve the ball quickly and up their game, they were instead happy to saunter back to the kick off as the match continued in much the same manner as before the goal.
In fact, it was Aylesbury who had the better of the later chances with Pringle shooting wide and yet another Clarke run ending with the ball blocked out for a corner kick.
Arlesey forced a number of corner kicks and set plays in the final minutes, but United continued to defend resolutely and the closest the visitors came was an 80th minute header from Derek Brown which was only ever destined to fly well over the bar.
Clarke was forced from the field late on with an injury, but left to a standing ovation for his efforts, and was replaced by Kevin Ayodele.
There were a few nervy moments and what seemed an age of stoppage time for the Ducks to get through, but full time eventually sounded from Mr O?Donnell?s whistle amid scenes of great celebration for a well deserved and precious three points.