Bell Close, Leighton Buzzard Attendance: 152
Aylesbury’s dreams of reaching a second cup final in two years were extinguished by their oldest rivals, Chesham United, who inflicted a 3-1 defeat on the Ducks at a sodden Bell Close.
The Greens went into the game looking to build on their last gasp win over Chalfont St. Peter two days earlier, but Tony Joyce was hampered yet again by injury, suspension and unavailability leaving him with a barely fit starting eleven and no room to manoeuvre.
On the other side, with the exception of four first team fringe players, Chesham’s team was made of up youth and reserve players, as the promotion chasing Generals manager Andy Leese prioritised his weekend’s league fixture.
Their youthful exuberance was a telling factor against the tired looking Ducks who worked hard and did create a number of good chances, but had to wait until stoppage time before Joey Acheampong finally put them on the scoresheet.
A strong start by Aylesbury saw Stacey Field shooting wide, albeit with the linesman’s flag raised, after just two minutes after a neat turn and pass by Acheampong, whilst a number of set pieces came to nothing in the opening stages.
On twenty minutes Greg Williams called former Leighton Town stopper Haydon Dodge into a good save with a low skimming shot that had to be tipped wide, after Blackett and Field combined well to set him up.
Skipper Jack Wood did then have the ball in the net when a corner kick was played back into him when a corner kick broke down, only for his celebrations to be cut short by the raised assistant’s flag.
The atrocious conditions caused by the persistent heavy rain made the going tough and with the game deteriorating Aylesbury lost all momentum as the half wore on.
Chesham went ahead just past the half hour mark courtesy of a superb goal from senior debutant Tashan Dwyer. A flighted ball came into the box from the right which the unattended Dwyer met with a volley on the run, his fine finish giving Jack Sillitoe no chance. 1-0 Chesham
Half-time: Aylesbury 0-1 Chesham
The Generals’ slim half time advantage certainly went against the share of chances, and the Ducks again started brightly as they looked to quickly draw level with an early Keith Williams free kick bouncing just past the upright of a stranded Dodge with nobody able to make a connection.
Blackett then hit the post with a firmly struck shot after being set up by strike partner Field, and the same player then saw an effort hacked off the line by Daniel Brathwaite after great work by Field saw him get to the byeline and cut the ball back.
Dom Petrucci guided a header from deep straight at Dodge, but unfortunately the early dominance wasn’t to continue, and Chesham hit back with attacks of their own as Bobby Devyne shots twice charged down in a matter of seconds.
Aylesbury were very much still in the game, but in a blink of an eye it was put out of their reach as the visitors struck two well taken goals in the space of three minutes.
Firstly Petrucci was dispossessed high up the pitch, and as Chesham broke quickly the impressive Dwyer was played clean through and he finished clinically beyond Sillitoe. 2-0 Chesham
The youngster nearly made it a dream debut hat trick, but for Sillitoe saving his shot with his body after racing away from the Aylesbury defence. Luck was against the Ducks though, as the ball looped up invitingly for Devyne to nod into the empty net. 3-0 Chesham
Sucker punches as they were, the goals knocked the stuffing out of Aylesbury, but having spent time regrouping they began to press forwards again with Blackett firing over having cut inside and a dangerous Acheampong ball flashing across the face of the goal.
The Ducks hit the woodwork again when Jack Wood headed a left wing free kick onto the bar, and from the best Aylesbury move of the night five minutes later Petrucci passed to Acheampong who in turn found Blackett whose rasping effort hit the stanchion behind the goal.
To their credit the hosts kept going right until the final whistle, Keith Williams firing an opportunistic early free kick just wide, whilst a strong penalty appeal was waved away after Acheampong went over the outstretched leg of Brathwaite.
Reward for the efforts finally arrived in the third minute of stoppage time, as the Ducks forced a succession of corner kicks. The third lead to a goalmouth scramble, where Acheampong was on hand to eventually fire high into the net. 1-3
That was almost the very last kick of the game, as Chesham completed their victory without further incident. Having been beaten finalists for the last two years, the Generals will be hoping for ‘third time lucky’ when they face Beaconsfield SYCOB later in the season.
For Aylesbury, little time to recover as they face a testing league encounter with Uxbridge, hopefully being able to call on some fit-again and available faces.