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Match Report

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Whilst on the upside Aylesbury remain unbeaten since mid-November, successive 1-1 draws against mid table opposition these days translates as mild disappointment, a reflection of the club’s growing ambitions.

United’s last home league game was way back at the turn of the year, a 0-0 draw against Leverstock Green, and was very similar in that the Ducks had no answer to their visitors’ well organised and massed defensive encampment.

The game’s pivotal moments came just before the interval. Stacey Field scored another spectacular goal that looked to be sending Aylesbury into the break with a narrow lead, but disaster followed and a really poor goal conceded just 90 seconds later restored the parity that remained.

In contrast to Saturday’s raucous atmosphere at Ampthill Park, Bell Close was somewhat subdued as supporters tried to keep warm in the freezing conditions only heightened by a bitter swirling wind.

Both sides worked hard to keep warm in a high tempo first half which saw two good teams largely cancel each other out, and chances were limited.

Zac Reynolds wasted an early free-kick by blazing over the bar from the edge of the area, before a majestic pass from Greg Williams put in Stacey Field momentarily but keeper Carl Tasker was quickly out to claim the ball.

Former Aylesbury striker Lewis Pritchard tried his luck with a shot on the stretch which didn’t trouble Jack Sillitoe, and with both sides forcing a number of first half corner kicks United were missing the presence of the injured John Mulholland in both boxes.

Ben Baines was disappointingly booked for simulation after appearing to be clipped just inside the box midway through the half in what looked set to be the game’s biggest talking point at that point.

Aylesbury were getting closer to scoring though and an inswinging Daniel Jones free-kick was headed over by Jack Wood beyond the far post. Four minutes later and Tasker made a hash on the edge of his area but the ball just wouldn’t drop for the lurking figures of Acheampong and Austin to turn into the empty net and defenders were able to recover.

Two ambitious Berkhamsted efforts – Jordan Frederick with a long range volley and Connor Calcutt with a 35-yard free-kick that drifted harmlessly wide – did nothing to affect United’s game as momentum grew.

At the other end Acheampong was close with a dinked, curling effort having cut in from the left, which dropped agonisingly past the beaten Tasker’s post. Then, Baines struck a delightful 25-yard curler with Tasker motionless again that cruelly came back off the upright.

United weren’t to be denied again though and took the lead just a minute later, with a goal out of nothing. A long ball out of defence caused panic in the Berko backline, allowing Field to nip in and lift the ball expertly over the stranded Tasker from a tight angle to add to his growing list of spectacular goals. 1-0 Aylesbury

Celebrations had barely ended when disaster struck. Hesitancy in the new look Ducks defence was punished as Pritchard beat a sluggish Sillitoe to the ball who, like his opposite number 90 seconds earlier, could only watch as the ball was lobbed over him into the net. 1-1

Half-time: Aylesbury 1-1 Berkhamsted

Pritchard fancied his chances of a second within moments of the restart when he received the ball on the turn, but smashed his shot over the bar.

Whereas the first half had been an even affair, Aylesbury took control of the second period and the match became attack vs defence for long periods without the chances or, more importantly, the goals to match the pressure.

Berko were forced into an early injury enforced chance as Jon Davies entered the fray for Josh Chamberlain, and their change in defensive personnel may have been to blame for the hesitancy that allowed Field to latch onto the ball and flash a shot across the face of goal a minute later.

Joey Acheampong met a 55th minute corner with a scuffed header, and a follow up shot bobbled around in the area but just wouldn’t fall kindly in a sign of what was to come.

It was Greg Williams who in the end came closest for Aylesbury when he got across the defence to meet a near post corner which was kept out by a combination of Tasker and defenders on the line.

Two further corners followed, the second of which was met by Williams again who this time headed high and wide on the near post.

A rare foray into the Ducks half then very nearly yielded a shock Berkhamsted goal, as a clearance was charged down with the ball ricocheting back and spinning just past the post.

With fifteen minutes remaining Zac Reynolds broke from right back to deliver a fine, searching cross which Field met with a full blooded volley but could only send whistling just over the crossbar.

Aylesbury began to run out of ideas as the minutes passed with their only meaningful attempts a chipped effort over from Austin and a near post try by Field which Tasker was equal to as there was to be no way through.

Newly re-signed Liam Smyth was introduced to the game, but too late to have an influence although he did play one great ball into the box – almost a teaser of things to come once he gains match fitness.

Late injuries to Berko’s Stephenson and Brandon meant a slightly extended stoppage time, but the match ended 1-1 and the Ducks had to be content with just the solitary point.

Minute by Minute Updates


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3 changes for the Ducks: Hatch (unavailable), Mulholland (injured) and Edgeworth out, Reynolds, Butler and Acheampong in.

Looks like it'll be the Wood brothers at centre back together.

Ex-Duck Lewis Pritchard starts for Berkhamsted.

Match is underway...

1. Early corner kick for Berko comes to nothing
6. Free-kick for Aylesbury 25-yards out...
Blazed over by Reynolds
16. Superb switch by Williams to Field who guides it inside but keeper is quick to gather
16. Effort comes in from Pritchard but easy for Sillitoe
18. Well timed challenge from Butler, Berko corner...
21. Good move from Aylesbury, Reynolds wins a corner...
Well claimed by the keeper
25. Baines booked for simulation
28. Inswinging free-kick from Jones headed over by Wood beyond the far post
31. Frederick ambitious long volley as a clearance falls to him
32. Keeper makes a mess on the edge of his box, neither Acheampong nor Austin can turn the ball into the empty net though
Tasker is down receiving treatment, stoppage in play
37. Calcutt with an optimistic 35-yard free kick drifts harmlessly wide
39. Acheampong with a dinked curling effort wide after a move down the left involving Austin and Field
42. Baines 25-yard curler hit the inside of the post with Tasker motionless after Reynolds cross from the byeline
43. GOAL! 1-0 Aylesbury. Absoloute goal out of nothing as Field latches onto a long ball to hook the ball over the stranded keeper
45. GOAL! 1-1. Instant reply as Sillitoe is beaten to the ball by Pritchard who lobs him

HT: Aylesbury 1-1 Berkhamsted - Poor first half of football which burst into life at the end with the 2 quick goals

Second half underway...

0. Ball into Pritchard, smashes shot over on turn
3. Berko sub: Davies on for Chamberlain
4. Field latches onto defensive hesitancy, low shot flashes across goal
9. Corner for United... won by Butler...
10. Acheampong met it, scuffed header, follow up shot bobbles into the box before being cleared
Complete dominance from Aylesbury but no reward so far
15. Lee Butler booked for cynically felling Austin in full flight
16. Whipped near post free-kick headed behind for a corner...
Jones ball, Williams got across defence, kept out by combination of keeper and defender on the line
18. Aylesbury corner...
23. Another United corner...
Near post header high and wide from Williams
24. Mighty close from Berko as a clearance cannons back off an attacker just past the post
25. Berko sub: Morrissey on for Pritchard
31. Fabulous ball in from Reynolds crashed just over on the volley by Field
39. Reynolds booked
42. Chipped dipping effort from Austin over the bar
42. Ducks sub: Smyth on for Acheampong
44. Near post shot from Field easy for the keeper
Aylesbury pressuring to the end but time running out

FT: Aylesbury 1-1 Berkhamsted - Plenty of pressure second half but not the chances or goals to match