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Match Report

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Following 2 defeats in a week, the Ducks made the short trip to the Broadwater Stadium to face Berkhamsted Town who were unbeaten so far this season. So, on paper a tough fixture, and in truth the first half proved to be just that. Missing the injured Ian Cooper, but boosted by the return of Stacey Field after he missed the midweek match against Dunstable Town. Also back from his holidays was a bronzed Paul Edgeworth, although he had settle for a seat on the bench alongside Greg Williams and Marcus Sawyer, highlighting the strength in depth of the squad this season. Aylesbury started with Field and Joey Acheampong up front in a 3 5 2 formation.

The first action of the game proved to be a painful one for Ducks striker Acheampong, as the Berkhamsted full back Danny Power made a very forceful tackle from behind on the half way line. Although he wasn’t far away from the action, the referee waited until his assistant flagged before blowing for the foul and, after consultation with the assistant, showed Power the yellow card for his overly aggressive behaviour, while Acheampong received treatment. From the resulting free kick, former Duck Craig Preston went down in the home penalty area clutching his shoulder, eventually being helped from the field with a dislocated shoulder, to be replaced by Creasy. The first half proved to be a testing one for the Ducks, with Berkhamsted in the ascendancy for most of the time. We had to wait until the 19th minute for the first real attempt on goal, home skipper Griggs picking up the ball 25 yards out and forcing Jack Sillitoe to make the first of a number of good saves, pushing the ball around the post. Two minutes later, Sillitoe was called into action again, Acheampong losing the ball on the edge of his own area, forcing Steve Hatch across to make a fine cover tackle, only to see the ball fall kindly to Connor Calcutt whose powerful drive was again pushed away to safety by the keeper. Calcutt was again to the fore in the 28th minute, shooting low and hard to Sillitoe’s right, only to again be denied by a fine diving stop. The pattern of play continued, next it was the turn of substitute Creasy to test Sillitoe, who made a splendid double save at his left hand post. In the 42nd minute, the travelling Ducks fans finally had something to cheer, as Ben Butler collected the ball in the middle of the park, strode forward and was about to shoot, only for Frederick to cynically tug his shirt, becoming the second Comrades player to see the Yellow Card. The resulting free kick was taken by Zac Reynolds, whose powerful right footed drive flew past the left hand upright with keeper Tasker rooted to the spot. The final action was again at the wrong end of the pitch for the Duck’s faithful, as strong centre forward Bunker managed to avoid the attentions of 3 Aylesbury defenders and get a shot away which was well blocked by John Mulholland as it flew goalwards.

So, plenty for the management to consider at half time, and changes were made. Although the same 11 took the field, it was soon evident that the 3 5 2 formation had been ditched, with Jack Wood moving forward to a holding midfield role, and the 2 wing backs, Bircham & Reynolds taking up their more conventional full back spots. This change of shape (and no doubt the words of wisdom from the management team) spurred the Ducks on to pretty much dominate the second half. Reynolds picked the ball up on the left touchline and danced round a couple of defenders before a desperate tackle fouled him on the edge of the box. Ben Butler was the man to step up this time, and his powerful drive was fumbled by the home keeper, but claimed at the second attempt. 3 minutes later, in the 55th minute the deadlock was broken. Last year’s top scorer Stacey Field scored with a typically virtuoso effort. Picking the ball up in the centre circle, he waltzed past 3 defenders, leaving them trailing in his wake, before slotting calmly past the keeper from just inside the penalty area. Just 8 minutes later it was 2-0, Reynolds again causing problems down the left, cutting in off the flank, only to be felled on the edge of the box. The referee was well placed to judge that the tackle was inside the box, and Field stepped up to take the penalty, sending Tasker the wrong way.

By now, Berkhamsted were getting very frustrated, diving into tackles and giving away free kicks frequently. On 67, Chamberlain became the next to see Yellow from the referee. Acheampong was shielding the ball on the touchline when his opponent came charging in from behind and knocked him over and off the pitch, sparking arguments between the 2 benches, as the tactics the home team had been employing throughout against the Duck’s striker finally caused tempers that had been simmering to boil over. Following this latest tackle, Acheampong was substituted, with Paul Edgeworth taking his place.

On 77 minutes came Berkhamsted’s only chance of note in the second half. Former Duck Lewis Pritchard won the ball on the right, and crossed to Calcutt 12 yards out. His powerful header had Sillitoe a beaten, but relieved man as it rebounded to safety off the cross bar. Following this scare, the Ducks finished strongly, with Reynolds again proving hard to handle down the left, beating 3 defenders and cutting inside onto his right foot, and unleashing a fierce shot from 20 yards, unfortunately for him straight into the midriff of the keeper. The final action of the match saw Field collect his second hat trick for the Ducks. Garcia found Edgeworth well down the right flank, his cross found Baines at the far post who unselfishly headed the ball across the six yard box to Field who ghosted in to score his 3rd. With that, Tony Joyce substituted the striker, who left the field to great applause from the once again considerable number of travelling fans.

So, the proverbial game of two halves saw Aylesbury emerge victorious after a comfortable and deserved win and move up to 4th in the table.

Thanks to Ian Pluck for this match report