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Match Report

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Thanks to Steve Baker for this match report

Up to 3.00pm on Saturday afternoon, most Ducks fans would have taken a 2-2 draw at league leaders Dunstable as a good result. In fact a number of us at the game had a go at predicting the score just before kick-off and, while we didn’t all get the score right, we all predicted a draw.

So it is testimony to the performance of the team on the day and the way Tony, Glyn and Gary have them playing that the moment, that when the final whistle went with the scores level, it was seen as two points lost by the Ducks rather than a point gained. Supporters on all sides were unanimous in their view that Aylesbury had been the better team over the ninety minutes and had fully deserved to go home with all three points.

Referee for the day, Mr P Smith, may have been a new face to most Ducks fans but it is unlikely he will be forgotten very quickly due to three decisions which determined the result of the game.

On a crisp, sunny but cold afternoon at Creasey Park the Ducks enjoyed a fine first half which saw them deny the league leaders space and time on the ball while enjoying a good amount of possession, albeit without fashioning much in the way of chances early on. Stacey had a cheeky attempt at lobbing the keeper from the edge of the area easily saved by the keeper while two of the three ‘Bens’, Butler and Baines had the best attempts beaten away by the home custodian. Dunstable also had few chances, although a flashing shot from Roache after a fine move just whistled past Jack Sillitoes post with a few of us sure it would end up in the net.

All agreed that the first half was a pretty even affair with, maybe, the Ducks just shading it on chances. Little were we to know what drama was to unfold in the second half.

Half-time: Dunstable 0-0 Aylesbury

The Ducks made an impressive start to the second period, pushing their hosts back and were rewarded after just 8 minutes when a cross from the impressive Louis Austin was turned in at the near post by Stacey Field for his 6th goal in the last three games. 1-0 Aylesbury

Things got even better just 7 minutes later when a cross from the right was turned in at the far post by Steve Hatch. 2-0 Aylesbury

So with an hour gone and two goals up against the league leaders who were, by now, clearly struggling, hopes were high among the travelling faithful for a famous victory.

As you would expect, Dunstable went on the attack in an attempt to get something out of the game which led to Aylesbury being able to take advantage of the pace of both Austin and Field on the counter attack. And it was from one of these that the first of Mr Smith’s major decisions was made.

Austin went past the Dunstable captain for a clear run on goal only to be brought down by the same player. Mr Smith immediately pointed to the spot but was alerted by the Dunstable defenders to a flag waving linesman. After consultation, he agreed (correctly as reported by Ducks supporters who were in line) that the offence had taken place outside of the area. Then came the card decision. Most, including the Dunstable captain (according to their own match report), expected the red card to emerge from Mr Smith’s pocket but it turned out to be yellow. As we now know that there is no ‘last man rule’ the referee has to decide whether the foul denied a ‘goal scoring opportunity’. At the end of the day the decision is always based on the referees opinion of what he saw but many Ducks fans found it difficult to understand how being clear though on goal with just the keeper to beat couldn’t be described in this way. The free kick came to nothing and Dunstable resumed the game with their full complement when most in the ground were expecting them to be down to ten men.

Just minutes later and with time ticking away, Louis was again upended as he rounded the last defender, this time in the area. Surely, this time we would get the decision and goal that would have secured the win. Initially, Mr Smith waved play on indicating that no foul had been committed, and then, spotting his linesman flagging in Aylesbury’s favour, stopped the game. To the visiting fans incredulity not only was the penalty not given but Louis was booked for simulation. Subsequently the referee advised us that he had overruled the linesman as he was ‘in a better position’. Many Ducks fans felt that he could have at least consulted him!

With time ticking away Dunstable eventually found a way back in the game with a fine finish from substitute Chris Francis bringing the score back. 1-2

Squeaky bum time for Ducks fans but the team’s performance suggested this was one game that we could see out over the remaining eight minutes for a fine victory.

Despite the inevitable onslaught from Dunstable, the defence were holding firm until the second minute of injury time when a Dunstable player went down following an innocuous challenge from Steve Hatch. Many, including Dunstable’s own fans at that end of the ground felt that: a) the challenge was outside the area and b) it was a fair challenge. Mr Smith, however had other ideas and whistled immediately pointing to the penalty spot which Newman Carney expertly despatched into the top corner. 2-2

There was little time for much else as the game was drawn to a close with the Ducks fans and players aggrieved at what they felt was the injustice of the result.

I am convinced that Mr Smith honestly gave all three decisions based on what he saw. The match report from Dunstable’s own website however, plus the comments from Dunstable’s players, officials and supporters on the day suggest that his views were not shared by the majority.

It does little however, to take away the disappointment felt after a performance where we outplayed the league leaders for much of the game. Tony, Glyn, Gary and all the players should take great heart from what was probably our best performance of the season.