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Match Report

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Thanks to Ian Pluck for this match report

A goal in the first half from Lea Coulter wasn’t enough to secure all 3 points against a strong Chalfont side, who equalised 13 minutes from the end in a game which both sides had opportunities to win. Manager Tony Joyce made just one enforced change from the team that beat Northwood last week, with Coulter recalled to the starting line up in place of Stacey Field, who missed the first of his 3 match suspension. This was the proverbial game of two halves, with the home team dominating the first half, but as with last week’s match, the visitors were in the ascendancy in the second period.

The Ducks made a quick start, with Jason Blackett winning a free kick inside the first 30 seconds of the match. From the resulting free kick, he headed over the bar. In the early stages, Shane Wood had three opportunities to take long throws into the Chalfont penalty area, all of which caused consternation and panic in the defence, which found it difficult to deal with his accurate delivery. From the third of these, in the 10th minute, Lea Coulter flicked the ball past the keeper to put the home side ahead. It was a deserved lead, home keeper Jack Sillitoe had hardly touched the ball at that stage, whereas his opposite number had plenty of opportunity to keep his hands warm on a bitterly cold day. It took until the 17th minute for Chalfont to have their first attempt on goal. The ball was worked down the right side by Aaron Lansiquot to Alex Paine, whose cross cum shot sailed over the bar.

Two minutes later, Lewis Putman was fouled on the right edge of the penalty area by Connor Hayes. Putman lined up the free kick himself, but his effort lacked power and was easily fielded by McEntegart in goal. The pattern of play in the first half almost exclusively saw the Ducks on the offensive. Next to threaten was Blackett. Putman flicked on a long kick downfield by Sillitoe to his strike partner, whose shot was blocked in a goal saving tackle by Paxton, diverting the ball away for a corner. Soon after, Jake Bewley made a fine run down the left wing, and after reaching the bye line pulled the ball back to Steve Hatch on the edge of the area. His shot was blocked and was cleared to Putman wide on the right; he cut inside onto his left foot but dragged his shot wide of the target.

On the half hour, fine hold up play by Blackett in the centre circle brought Hatch into play. He spotted Jesse Waites wide on the right, who beat his defender but saw his shot rise above the bar. The chances were coming with great regularity as the half progressed. Just four minutes later, a quickly taken throw in from Coulter to Putman, who moved the ball wide to Hatch; he in turn spread the ball wide to the right to Waites, who cut in towards the bye line and fizzed a hard shot towards the far corner, which keeper McEntagart did well to deflect behind for another corner. Waites, who was so often the out ball wide on the right, charged down a clearance by full back Louth and laid the ball into the path of Putman breaking down the right flank. He fizzed a cross through the 6 yard box, but unfortunately there was no one to apply the finishing touch, as Chalfont escaped once again. As half time approached, Chalfont almost got themselves back into the game with one of their few chances in the half. Good work by Lansiquot, who beat Bill Morgan wide on the left, before cutting back towards the edge of the penalty area; he fired an unstoppable shot from 25 yards which Sillitoe was unable to get a touch to, but glad to see it cannon off the crossbar and away for a goal kick.

At the start of the second half, Chalfont made an immediate substitution, former Aylesbury FC centre back Liam Fowler replaced by winger Glenn Yala as the Saints reshuffled their line-up. Whether it was tactical or forced by injury, the half time chat in the away dressing room certainly galvanised the team into a much more positive performance, much as happened last week against Northwood. However, the first real chance again went to the home side. Putman picked up a pass down the right channel and did well to hold off two defenders, who were pulling at his shirt. Eventually, after waiting to see if any advantage could be accrued, a free kick was awarded. Bewley’s dangerous delivery was cleared for a throw in. Shane Wood again stepped up and his throw was headed on by Morgan as far as Hatch, whose attempt was agonisingly wide of the far post with the keeper beaten. That was just about as good as it got for the majority of the second half for the Ducks, as the Saints upped the ante and pushed for an equaliser. Just past the hour mark, skipper Hedley beat Jack Wood and rolled the ball across the penalty area to Louis Stead. As so often happens, skipper Wood recovered and made a fine block on Stead’s powerful goalbound shot. Next to threaten was Lansiquot, who crossed from the left towards substitute Ailey, but he couldn’t quite make contact on the ball as it went through the 6 yard box and away to safety. One of the rare opportunities in the half for the Ducks fell to goalscorer Coulter. Blackett won the ball in midfield and passed to Putman on the right side. His cross to the far post was met by Coulter but he could only put his header wide of the post. The Saints were straight back on the offensive though; a defence splitting pass from substitute Yala found the impressive Alex Paine breaking forward from midfield. He advanced into the penalty area and shot past Sillitoe only to see his attempt rebound back from the bottom of the post and away to safety.

The warning bell had been ringing loud and clear though and it wasn’t long before what seemed like an inevitable equaliser was scored. Paine was again involved, crossing the ball from the right, where a slight deflection took it to Lansiquot, who made no mistake with his effort from 12 yards out, beating Sillitoe to bring the scores level. Chalfont, buoyed by the equaliser surged forward again, this time Lansiquot heading a cross down into the path of Ailey, but Morgan made a fine blocking tackle as he got his shot away. As the minutes ticked down, the Ducks were defending deeper and deeper, as the away side pushed on. However, it was the Ducks who had the last real opportunity of the game, breaking quicklyfrom defence. Putman found his strike partner Blackett who advanced on goal only to see McEntagart out quickly to block his shot. The last action of the match saw Morgan harshly penalised for handball. As he protested his innocence, preventing a quick free kick being taken, players from both sides engaged in a spell of “handbags”, resulting in yellow cards for both Morgan and Lansiquot. The last attempt came for the visitors; when the free kick was eventually taken by Stead, the ball was deflected goalwards by Hatch, but Sillitoe caught it safely under his bar under pressure from Lansiquot and Ailey.

Shortly afterwards, referee Mr Forrester blew his whistle to finish the game, a match where both sides can point to plenty of opportunities to win. However, a mix of poor finishing and brave defending saw the match end, rather fairly, all square. I’m sure the Ducks management will be pleased with a more solid defensive showing, but the next challenge comes at Marlow next Saturday, as the Ducks attempt to arrest what has become a poor away record, chasing their first away points since the victory at Potters Bar back in September. Certainly a full 90 minute performance will be required if we are to return home with all 3 points before Christmas.