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Match Report

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Report courtesy of Ian Pluck

Aylesbury United made the trip up the M1 to face Calor Southern League Div 1 Central leaders Rugby Town. A marked difference in the playing conditions from recent matches, with the Butlin Rd pitch in immaculate condition, covered in something allegedly called grass! It's been so long since we played on such a surface, but it gave the Ducks the opportunity to show that when the conditions are good, they could pass the ball and play football that compares with the best teams in the division.

Following his goal against St Ives on Saturday, Paul Edgeworth was restored to the starting line up alongside Stacey Field, in place of Dom Petrucci who dropped to the subs bench. Changes in midfield meant Ben Baines and Zack Reynolds also dropped to the bench, with Lee Grace and Danny Jones filling the wide berths. Bill Morgan was restored to the starting line up in place of the injured Greg Williams, with Jack Wood playing in the holding midfield position. One final change saw Richard Armstrong included on the bench for the first time in 5 weeks.

With all the changes, and playing against the league leaders, it might have been expected that the Ducks would have been on the back foot. However they played their part to the full, especially in the first half, starting the match well. In just the 3rd minute, a free kick found the head of Bill Morgan, but his ball across goal bounced off Stacey Field before he could control it and was cleared by the defence. Rugby’s first attack saw Seb Lake-Gaskin latch onto a long ball forward down the left. He cut inside onto his right foot but could only shoot tamely at Jack Sillitoe, who gathered comfortably. Lake-Gaskin was the fulcrum of the early Rugby attacks; in the 15th minute, he beat Jack Wood and got to the by-line, where his cross found Greg Kaziboni coming in from the right, but unfortunately for him he couldn’t get the ball out of his feet and the danger was cleared. 5 minutes later, Kaziboni picked up the ball in the centre circle and beat 3 defenders on his way to the penalty area, where Sillitoe came out smartly to smother the ball before he had chance to get a shot away. However, in the 22nd minute it was the visitors who took the lead, slightly against the run of play, with Paul Edgeworth scoring his second header in successive games converting from Liam Smyth's well-flighted free kick. Undeterred, Rugby continued to press forward, and they equalised 10 minutes later. Kaziboni found Jamie Towers on the right edge of the box. His shot was well saved by Sillitoe, but unfortunately for the Duck’s stopper, it was only parried as far as Justin Marsden 18 yards out, whose venomous shot found the top corner of the net with Sillitoe helpless. Despite much of the play being towards the Duck’s goal, Danny Jones had a glorious opportunity to retake the lead for his team. Connolly lost the ball on the edge of his own penalty area, Edgeworth played the ball to Jones on the left, but his driven shot flashed across the face of goal and out for a goal kick. That was to be the final action of the first half, in which the Ducks had shown they were able to match the high flying league leaders.

The second half developed into a “backs to the wall” defensive display from the Ducks, with Jack Wood excelling in the holding role in front of the defence, and keeper Sillitoe pulling off a number of impressive saves. Just 4 minutes in, Kaziboni and McBride broke from halfway, exchanging passes as they approached the penalty area. It took a well-timed tackle from Steve Hatch to snuff out the danger and clear the ball. Kaziboni was becoming the main attacking focus for the home team, but unfortunately, time after time when he had the opportunity to shoot, his efforts lacked composure and rarely troubled Sillitoe, going high or wide. On the hour, the Aylesbury goal led a truly charmed life. A deep corner from Fox found home skipper Alex Gudger, whose header was cleared off the line by Jack Wood. The ball bounced around the 6 yard box and skipper Wood was again in the right place to clear off the line; the ball fell to Kaziboni, who once again failed to find the target. The best chance of the half for the visitors fell to top scorer Stacey Field. A Jones corner found Bill Morgan, who moved it to Field, but his shot from 18 yards was wide of the target. As the second half developed, the whole defence played their part, a number of well-timed last ditch tackles and blocks denying the home side, with it has to be said, Rugby losing their composure somewhat in front of goal, symbolised at the death by skipper Gudger trying a very speculative long shot from the half way line which sailed harmlessly wide of goal, although Sillitoe was well placed to save if necessary. The final chance of the game fell to ex-Duck Lewis McBride, who picked the ball up in the centre circle and advanced menacingly towards a tiring defence. However, his shot again failed to trouble Sillitoe, sailing harmlessly wide of the target.

The Ducks returned home with a share of the points and can be well satisfied with their night's work. With the squad just about at full strength, manager Tony Joyce will have the unenviable task of deciding his best line up in the matches to come, although with matches coming thick and fast, a large squad will be a blessing. Having matched the best in the division, we move on to play at Marlow on Saturday with nothing to fear.