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Match Report

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Thanks to Ian Pluck for this match report

With the memory of last week’s disappointing defeat at Beaconsfield still fresh in the minds, Manager Tony Joyce decided to freshen up the team for today’s match against Northwood. Into the side came Bill Morgan, Shane Wood, Jesse Waites and Jason Blackett, in place of John Mulholland, Shaun Owens, Paul Edgeworth and Ryan Freshwater. The formation appeared to be very much an attacking one, with Blackett joining new signing Lewis Putman who was making his home debut and club top scorer Stacey Field to form a 3 pronged striking partnership. What promised to be an open attacking game didn’t disappoint, as the first half especially saw the strikers on top.

After a cagey opening first 10 minutes, it was the home side that opened the scoring. Will Hudson was outmuscled by Jason Blackett in midfield and passed the ball sideways to Jesse Waites. For some reason the Northwood defence switched off, presumably expecting referee Mr Viccars to blow for a foul, allowing Waites to pick his spot and curl a shot inside the far post, past a motionless Laurencin in the Wood’s goal. Buoyed by the early goal, the Ducks were back on the attack soon after. Putman collected a long ball down the left channel, but only managed to hit the side netting with his shot. The new boy appeared to be enjoying himself on the left side of the attack, and just 6 minutes later he crossed the ball to strike partner Blackett, whose powerful shot was deflected but well saved by Laurencin. After the ball was cleared for a throw in, Shane Wood’s long throw was flicked on at the near post to Putman 15 yards from goal, his fierce volley finding the back of the net for his first goal for the Ducks, doubling the lead. What looked as though it should have been a comfortable match for Aylesbury soon became anything but, as Northwood rallied and got back into the game. Bill Morgan fouled Niko Muir on the left edge of the box, resulting in a free kick 20 yards from goal. Up stepped Michael Murray, to fire the free kick beyond Jack Sillitoe to reduce the lead. The scoring continued 7 minutes later, as Blackett challenged for a long ball forward; the ball fell to Steve Hatch 25 yards from goal, his shot flying in the far corner. Again Northwood rallied, and just one minute later a long ball forward by Turner found Ehui wide on the right. He ghosted infield and passed to Muir who shot past Sillitoe from 20 yards to reduce the deficit again.

Undeterred Aylesbury reinstated their 2 goal lead just 4 minutes later, with the third goal in a breathless 4 minutes. Waites made a great run down the left and squared the ball to Putman, whose goal bound shot was deflected for a corner. Waites took the corner and found Blackett totally unmarked 6 yards from goal, he duly found the net with his firm header. There was still time for more goalmouth action, as Waites was fouled 20 yards from goal. Putman stepped up to take the free kick, however his well hit shot was just too high to extend the lead further.

It’s fair to say that the half time team talk would have been a lot easier than last week’s at Beaconsfield. However, if the home side’s thoughts were that the game was in the bag they were short sighted. Northwood came out and battled hard in the second half, dominating play. Five minutes in, the impressively direct Ehui cut in from the left wing and fired a shot at Sillitoe, which the keeper did well to save down low at his near post.Ehui was proving to be the visitor’s main outlet, as he again caused trouble for the Ducks defence, getting to the by-line and crossing to Murray who cushioned a header to Muir. Fortunately for the Ducks, his shot from 10 yards was weak and wide of the goal. Just 2 minutes later the visitors thought they had cut the deficit. Hastings crossed from the right, Murray collected the ball, swivelled and shot past Sillitoe. However, the ever alert Shane Wood was quickly back to clear off the line.

In the 72nd minute, the tension in the game boiled over momentarily. Greg Williams committed a foul in the centre circle, which resulted in a mass confrontation between players of both teams. Once the officials had regained control of the situation, Williams was booked, along with Blackett and Lawal from Northwood, both presumably for their part in the aftermath to the foul.

The Ducks were still very much on the back foot as the game approached the final stages. In the 75th minute Northwood were awarded a foul in midfield, which was taken quickly as the defence reorganised. The ball was passed to Ehui who was given far too much space 20 yards from goal. His powerful shot beat Sillitoe but bounced down off the underside of the bar. Again Shane Wood was the saviour, clearing the ball to safety before an opposing striker could apply the finishing touch. Six minutes from time Northwood did manage to cut the deficit. In a virtual copy of their first goal, Morgan again fouled on the edge of the box and Murray stepped up to place the free kick past the diving Sillitoe. So, 4-3 and the Ducks fans were fearing the worst, but hoping the team could hold on for the win in the last few minutes. As they say, cometh the moment, cometh the man. Lee Grace, who had only been on the pitch as a substitute for Field for a matter of minutes was the man to ease the fears of the home fans. Blackett and Waites combined for a short corner routine down the left, with Waites crossing the ball hard and low. Grace had gambled and arrived at the near post at the same time as the ball and fired an unstoppable volley past the helpless Laurencin to seal the win. The final chance of the match fell to the impressive Putman, who collected a ball over the defence by Blackett and advanced towards goal. However, this time, Laurencin came out to meet him and saved his effort on goal.

Shortly afterwards, the final whistle was blown, and relief was the overriding feeling amongst the Ducks faithful. While a 5-3 win is very pleasing, and offensively the team looked very strong, there is still work to be done in tightening up defensively. Northwood could certainly feel slightly hard done by, receiving little reward for a steadfast performance. Results (and performances) of late have had something of a Jekyll and Hyde look to them; the search for consistency must be upper most in the minds of the management team as we move towards a difficult set of fixtures over the festive period.