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Match Report

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Aylesbury made it an opening day win for the first time in three years, as two debutant Ducks struck early and late in the match in a 2-1 victory at Potters Bar Town.

The Parkfield Stadium has been one of mixed fortunes for United over the years, but Alex Collard rose to head home Sonny French’s late free kick to ensure a happy ending to this visit.

Collard was one of five new faces in the starting lineup, and it was one of these – Eoin Casey – who grabbed the early opener. The ever-reliable Paul Edgeworth flicked on a left sided throw on, and Casey needed no invitation to try his luck, catching goalkeeper Mike Underwood wrong-footed with a low shot from range that hardly belted into the net, but they all count. 1-0 Aylesbury

With Poole Town’s Richard Gillespie on target a minute earlier, it wasn’t quite the quickest goal of the Southern League season, but was a fine way to hit the ground running nonetheless.

The Scholars could actually have opened the scoring themselves before that when a shaky looking Alex Tokarczyk flapped at a cross only for the home striker to hook the ball over the empty goal.

Tokarczyk only had long range efforts to field for the moments after the opening goal, with Joe Bennett firing in a weak long ranger and then doing better with a rising drive which went over the bar.

For Aylesbury, Collard headed well over the bar himself from Edgeworth’s corner kick, whilst United took advantage of the plush surface with some neat passing football on 26 minutes that ended with a fierce Shaun Owens strike dealt with by Underwood.

But as the half wore on, the hosts began to take control as the Ducks found themselves under increasing pressure. Dangerman Evandro Delgado had earlier fired in a warning shot which was well held by Tokarczyk, before he then turned provider – levering the ball down for strike partner Charlie Nelson who dragged his attempt well wide of the target.

Delgado was in the thick of the action again when he turned past Owens before flashing in a wayward shot that eventually went out for a throw.

United retained their lead to the interval, but only after the Scholars wasted a glorious when Ben Bowditch somehow hooked over from close range on the end of a low cross. They did have the ball in the back of the net two minutes later when Tokarczyk parried a long range shot only for the flag to be raised as the rebound was tapped home.

Half-time: Potters Bar 0-1 Aylesbury

The second half began in brighter fashion for the Ducks when Owens played a fine through ball to released Taylor Collins, but with other options he opted for a shot which was weak on his left foot and easy for Underwood to deal with.

After Owens himself had seen a long shot dived on, and as Aylesbury went on to fashion the better of the chances after the break, another good opening came to nothing when a long throw flicked on by Casey gave Edgeworth a shooting opportunity, but he could only fire over from close range.

Moments after getting booked for taking out Delgado in the corner, Lee Grace came close to setting up a second for Aylesbury when he burst down the left, and his cross fell to Edgeworth who fired over.

As the half neared its midway point, Tony Joyce opted to introduce Sonny French, and he nearly made an instant impact with a curling shot just over the bar after the referee played a good advantage when Billy Adcock was hacked down.

Potters Bar had also made a change, introducing debutant Jerry Maja at the same time, and he took little time to seize the moment on his debut. A through ball set him scampering away through the middle, and with an assured finish past the advancing Tokarczyk it was 1-1 out of nowhere. 1-1

A second substitution for the Ducks saw Stacey Field replace Edgeworth in attack and he followed suit by soon making a telling contribution, finding Adcock in space with a square pass but his shot was comfortably held.

The last ten minutes of the game saw proceedings more open than they had been at any earlier point, and a foray forward by the hosts saw Jack Lyons’s shot charged down, with Bennett firing in the follow up straight at the goalkeeper.

It was Aylesbury who found the breakthrough on 84 minutes Collard majestically headed home French’s pinpoint free kick delivery. 2-1 Aylesbury

The Scholars nearly grabbed an equaliser for a second time when the explosive Maja fired in a snapshot out of nowhere that swerved viciously in the air, Tokarczyk doing well to get enough behind it and field the ball.

In stoppage time the long serving Ashley Harrison-Baker crashed a shot over as the ball dropped to him, but Tokarczyk wasn’t to be troubled again and United were able to celebrate a hard earned win to get their season off to a pleasing start.