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Match Report

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A supreme defensive performance complimented by two moments of skill clinched an important away win for Aylesbury as they won 2-0 at in-form Hadley.

The Potters Bar-based outfit were on a five-match unbeaten streak and although their dangerous attacking players – including Dom Petrucci who had netted 7 times in his last 4 outings – threatened, they couldn’t break down United’s backline, superbly marshalled by the indomitable John Mulholland.

With no wingers available, Tony Joyce opted to play a 3-5-2 wingback system, something Aylesbury have dabbled with in the past usually with no great success.

On this occasion it worked for the Ducks though, as they made their extra man in the middle pay dividends whilst utilising the marauding runs of Daniel Jones and the excellent, tireless Sam Slatter.

In addition to Slatter, there were also recalls for Warren Garcia – his first start since returning from Aylesbury FC – and Tom Barnett with neither showed any ill effects of their absences from the team. Paul Edgeworth (broken nose), Lewis Hallford (departed for Elgin City) and Marcus Sawyer were the players replaced.

The Ducks started brightly, playing some good early on and threatened in the first minute when a dinked pass by Barnett was close to causing an own goal, Russell Garland coming off his line able to catch his defender’s misplaced backwards header.

Mulholland volleyed high over the bar, before a Jones free-kick from 25-yards unluckily struck the foot of the post in the bottom left corner.

Garland was able to routinely handle a Stacey Field shot after he had cut inside and gone for goal having latched on to Joey Acheampong’s flick from Mulholland’s long ball.

Hadley took a while to settle, but once they did their frontline - comprising a number of former St. Albans City fringe players – began causing problems. A ball over the top on 18 minutes released Ben Luck but his attempted early half-volley was fired well wide.

Nine minutes later and Petrucci brushed off the challenge of Joe Donaldson to reach the byeline where he cut the ball back beyond Jack Sillitoe for Luck to shoot at the open goal, only for Slatter to make a superb block where he also did excellently not to handle Luck’s fierce shot on the line.

Petrucci’s good work in the first half went to waste again when he got in a fine cross from the left, which was volleyed wide at the far post, and, three minutes from the interval, Luck misfired again having drifted in from the right but shooting high and wide.

Having had a quiet period, Aylesbury ended the first half on top once more and a Donaldson effort at a corner kick was hooked wide, whilst Slatter miscued badly having got on the end of Jones’ cross.

On the stroke of half-time Garland was called to make his first serious save when Garcia sprayed a neat diagonal pass into Field’s path who ran on before curling an effort goalwards, only for Garland to tip the ball over at full stretch.

It marked the end to a satisfying enough opening period, although the home side could claim the upper hand on the quality of chances created.

Half-time: Hadley 0-0 Aylesbury United

Though Aylesbury started the half well again, they only had an ambitious effort from Garcia fly well wide to show for their efforts, and Hadley were soon on the attack. A free-kick was slipped into Petrucci inside the box who drew a good low save from the legs of Sillitoe, the ball spinning wide for a corner kick which was turned wide by Ben Luck at the near post.

A couple more half chances for the Ducks followed with Garcia seeing a low drive blocked after the ball was played back into the box, and Jones lashing a half-volley well wide when the ball fell nicely for him.

The opening goal arrived midway through the half through Acheampong, who had a much better second half after an average at best first period. Running at the defence he played a slick one-two with Field to burst into the box and slot the ball past Garland. 1-0 Aylesbury

It was just the moment of quality Aylesbury had been looking for, and with the goal advantage they were able to defend solidly for a spell with Mulholland’s head apparently attracting every ball to it, whilst Wood and Donaldson did well alongside him taking out anything posing a threat.

Rob Quattromini tried his luck with a long ranger from the left, but it takes a better effort to beat Sillitoe, and as the time ticked by Hadley began to grow frustrated and petulant. This was characterised by a flamboyant display of dissent from Petrucci which saw him throw the ball to the ground for which he was surprisingly only warned.

It was hard to believe the striker had actually been awarded a free-kick – he felt the advantage should have been played – but it was understandable when the delivery went straight to Mulholland’s clearing head yet again.

A truly awful Petrucci free-kick in the last five minutes marked the end of Hadley as an attacking threat and in stoppage time United capped their display with a second goal which truly was special.

Picking up the ball just inside the Hadley half, Field spotted Garland well off his line, and clean lobbed him with a fantastic dipping shot from a full 50-yards to wrap up ‘goal of the season’ early. 2-0 Aylesbury

Goals like that come about as often as Aylesbury games on 29th February (this being just the third played on the date), and it was a fitting end to an excellent performance which sees the Ducks move up to 6th in the table.

Minute by Minute Updates

A few changes for the Ducks tonight, as Edgeworth misses out with a broken nose. In come Slatter, Garcia and Barnett, whilst Clark, Simpson and Smith have all returned to the bench having missed the last few games.

We're underway in Potters Bar...

We seem to be playing a wingback system, 3-5-2...

1. Dinked ball by Barnett headed back to keeper by a defender, nearly put into his own net as the keeper had started to come off his line
3. Mulholland with a poor volley well over the bar. A Jones corner was met by Acheampong, then lost by the keeper under pressure from Field, the ball then played back in after a brief scramble
4. Jones free-kick hit the base of the post at the bottom left corner, unlucky
5. Mulholland clearance helped on by Acheampong to Field cut inside and shot but straight at Garland
Aylesbury moving the ball well so far, making good use of the extra man in the middle, but Hadley look dangerous - their strikers making some good runs
11. Hadley win their first corner of the night, in the right corner
13. Mulholland long ball forward, nearly caught the backpeddling keeper out, caught in the end
18. Ball over the top took out the Ducks defence and released Ben Luck, but his early finish was wayward and put wide
Best chance of the game so far
23. Hadley enjoy a good spell of pressure. Dangerous ball in the box turned behind by Donaldson for a corner
25. Free kick to Aylesbury 45-yards out, dead central
Played into the box but well claimed by Garland
27. Petrucci brushed off challenge of Donaldson to take ball to the byline. Cut it back for waiting Luck whose shot to the empty net was excellently blocked by Slatter who did well not to handball it
31. Great play by Petrucci on the left crossed in for a striker who volleyed wide
33. Another free-kick won by Baines in a similar area to the previous one, good delivery by Jones but Acheampong and Mulholland go for the same ball and get in each others' way
36. 3rd free-kick won by Baines, this time on the left touchline
Mulholland penalised for using his arms in the box
40. Acheampong wins a corner by hassling the defender into a mistake
Jones curls it in and Joe Donaldson hooks the ball just past the upright
42. Luck drifts in from the right, awful finish high and wide
44. Good play from Aylesbury, ball in from Jones met with a bad shank by Slatter
44. Great effort from Field, excellently tipped over by Garland after a fine sprayed pass forward by Garcia
45. The corner kick comes to nothing

HT: Hadley 0-0 Aylesbury: Satisfying enough first half, we've played some good football at times, but Hadley have had the better chances

The second half has kicked off here...

1. Ambitious effort from Garcia goes wide after a decent start by Aylesbury
5. Tom Barnett warned for delaying the taking of a free-kick
5. Ball slipped in to Petrucci after the free-kick, good low save by Sillitoe and the ball spins behind for a corner
6. Near post corner met by Luck and turned wide
8. Campbell booked for a foul on the far touchline
9. Low drive from Garcia blocked after ball played back into the box following Jones' inswinging delivery which wasn't properly attacked
13. Ball dropped for Jones, slashed half volley well wide
14. Hadley change: Gibbs on for Karagozlu
17. GOAL! 1-0 Aylesbury. Acheampong picks the ball up, plays a slick one-two before slotting past Garland
19. Field great play out on the left after Wood picked him out, shot straight down the keeper's throat before the referee controversially pulled play back for an earlier infringement
Free-kick comes to nothing
25. Donaldson concedes a free-kick on Aylesbury's left touchline
Played in low by Sabag in an attempted training ground routine, comes to nothing
27. Corner kick laid back to Barnett by Field, gets the shot horribly wrong - way over
30. Corner kick for Hadley after good interception on a through ball by Slatter
Corner headed wide by Sabag
31: 2nd Hadley sub: Le Tisser on for Murray
33. Long shot from Quaottromoni on the left wing, have to be better than that to beat Sillitoe
34. Good save to deny Field a left footed shot after Garcia rides a challenge and slides him through
36. Petrucci warned for a flamboyant show of dissent, after being awarded a free-kick!
Free-kick straight on to Mulholland's head...again!
39. Barnett concedes free-kick against Petrucci right on the edge of the box. Dangerous
Awful free-kick by Petrucci, easily cleared away
Corner kick won by Hadley on the right...
43. Jones booked for hand ball
44. Aylesbury sub: Smith on for the excellent Slatter
45. GOAL! 2-0 Aylesbury. SPECIAL EFFORT from Stacey Field... receives the ball just inside the Hadley area and without thinking clean lobs the keeper!
47. Late corner for Hadley, Ducks launch a counter which sees Baines play in Field to rasp an effort wide

FT: Hadley 0-2 Aylesbury: Supreme defensive effort and two well taken goals, the second truly memorable