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Match Report

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After their disappointing 4-2 defeat at Uxbridge in midweek, few would have backed Aylesbury United on their visit to Warwickshire – Rugby Town on a seven-match winning street and Butlin Road a ground the Ducks hadn’t won at since 2000.

Rugby were surprisingly ineffective in their performance, whilst the Ducks were spirited and battled hard, and got their reward in the shape of all three points when skipper Jack Wood struck what proved to be the winner early in the second half.

With Steve Hatch and Greg Williams both missing out with knee injuries, and Lewis Putman completing his suspension, United were once again without key personnel, so it was a much changed lineup with Jason Blackett fit again and Zack Reynolds’ return to the club providing boosts. Jesse Waites and Stacey Field were also back in the eleven after their Tuesday travel nightmare.

In a first half of limited action as the sides huffed and puffed without much end product, it was Field who had the first shot after some neat football but could only produce a weak finish. Justin Marsden’s effort at the other end then cleared the bar by some distance having been played in by fellow striker Richard Gregory.

Midway through the half Field should have opened the scoring when Reynolds did superbly to head the ball on where it was turned wide of goal by Field’s first time shot from eight yards.

Rugby were seeing plenty of the ball but found it tough to break down a disciplined and well organised Aylesbury defensive unit, and it was the visitors who continued to make better use of it in the final third.

Blackett’s flick to Field who passed to Reynolds gave him the chance to cut inside on his favoured right foot and see a shot blocked, and then Blackett himself shot well wide from just outside the box before Reynolds nearly got lucky when he charged down a clearance, but the ball dropped over the bar.

Two minutes from half time Reynolds, a threat all afternoon, was in action again when he cut in from the left flank and unleashed a fierce effort which was blocked by the diving Mason Rowley, and in the midst of the following handball appeals a second shot was also blocked in the area.

Rugby had offered little, but they ended the half on a bright note when a corner kick was met by home skipper Alex Gudger only to be headed off the line by Bewley.

In the process, Jack Wood had suffered a blow to the face and looked to be set to be replaced by the stripped-off Tinashe Chabata, but the half time whistle sounded immediately, Wood made the decision to soldier on and soon turned out to be match winner.

Half-time: Rugby 0-0 Aylesbury

That winner ultimately came with just six minutes of the second half gone. Waites played the ball to Field just inside the area, whose shot was deflected behind for a corner. Paul Edgeworth’s delivery was accurate and although Blackett’s header was blocked, Jack Wood was on hand to gleefully smash home the loose ball. 1-0 Aylesbury

Three minutes later and Reynolds was running at the heart of Rugby’s defence again, his shot taking a deflection which favoured fortunate goalkeeper Richard Morris when on another day it could left the stopper wrong-footed.

Town introduced dangerous winger Fazel Koriya on 64 minutes, and further attacking reinforcements in Mitchell Piggon later on, but they continued to struggle for inspiration, although Lewis Rankin blazed high and wide having been picked out by a square ball.

Tahj Bell was called into some rare action soon afterwards when Marsden’s shot in had to be saved, and as the ball squirmed away he was grateful to his defence for hacking the ball clear, repelling danger as they had time and time again over the game’s course.

This was further evident 19 minutes from time when a misplaced header from Bill Morgan fell in the area, and with Rankin closing in and just about to pull the trigger Shane Wood came from nowhere to clear the danger.

A couple of dangerous free kicks which saw Aylesbury collect three petty bookings first saw Gudger fail to make the most of getting on the end of Craig Kelly’s delivery, and then Gregory curl the ball over when he went direct for goal from 25-yards.

As the hosts tried to push forward for an equaliser, the gaps they left at the back should have been punished in the 80th minute when the ball fell invitingly to Field just inside the box but he lifted his half volley over the bar.

Rugby at last found some urgency in their play, and things were quickly back at the other end with Koriya racing down the right flank, only for Jack Wood to block his effort.

After Shaun Owens had fired a long shot well over, Aylesbury were gifted a chance to put the game to bed when that man Reynolds collected the ball after his own shot was blocked and slalomed into the area before being brought down by Gudger for a clear penalty. On this occasion, the usually reliable Edgeworth saw his spot kick saved, and Town were left off the hook.

The clock had ticked past the 90 minute mark, but there was still time for one more sight of goal for the home side when the ball was levered down to Marsden, but he volleyed over the sum up his side’s frustrating afternoon and ensure Aylesbury were able to celebrate an impressive win.