The Evo-Stik League South
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Match Report

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Zaki Oualah was the hero as Aylesbury progressed in the Southern League Challenge Cup with a 5-3 penalty shootout win over Wantage Town following a goalless draw after ninety minutes.

The United goalkeeper saved Wantage’s fourth penalty, before stepping up to score the decider himself and send his side through to the second round.

Despite the end result, it was a night of mixed emotions for the Ducks, who, having scored four at the weekend, were left frustrated at their inability to find the net against a side second-bottom in Division One South & West, despite a dominant first half that saw a catalogue of chances come to nothing.

Wantage had the night’s first effort when Jack Wood’s header out was returned over the top into the path of Aaron Ferris who lashed over the bar.

Four minutes later and Aylesbury had their own through Josh Baines, who took Reece Cameron’s short pass and drove for goal but straight at goalkeeper Ed Cavanagh.

Fresh from his home debut goal against Chatham, Chid Onokwai was next to go close when he strode onto a raking through ball only for his lob over the advancing Cavanagh to drop just wide of the target.

On another night it would have been 4-0 in the opening fifteen minutes, Onokwai involved again when this time he was on the end of Ellis Hercules’s ball across the face of goal but was unable to convert at the far post.

Then, Hogg’s corner kick was met at the near post by Greg Williams only for an excellent Cavanagh save to keep the ball out. The second corner was guided wide across the target by Hercules.

For all of United’s chances, they could have been behind when Wantage’s leading goalscorer Mark Francis waltzed his way through the defence before planting a low shot just past the left post with Oualah beaten.

Sonny French was inches away from converting a low Baines ball into the box, whilst Cameron drove a shot just over the bar, but it took a saving challenge from the always-excellent Wood to prevent a clear sight on goal for Wantage after the ball evaded Hogg – playing in an unfamiliar right back position.

From the resulting corner The Alfredians should have found the net, as the ball came all the way across goal before being cut back to James Glover who ballooned over from close range.

After Onokwai was booked for attempting to score with his hand, the new Aylesbury striker nearly turned provider. Cameron was freed on the right, the youngster playing a great ball forward to Onokwai who in turn squared for Baines, who took too long in getting a shot away and was smothered by the tall-standing Cavanagh.

Good work by Sonny French then created United’s next chance as he skipped past a half-hearted challenge to find Baines whose cross bounced off a combination of Cameron and Onokwai close to goal.

Four minutes from the break and another gilt-edged opening was spurned, this time coming from a corner kick from Hogg which was crossed at the second attempt, helped on by Williams and volleyed over by Hercules.

French twice saw attempted shots charged down by defenders, before another Hogg corner came to Cameron on the edge of the box who fired in a venomous shot that narrowly missed the target.

The half drew to a close with further frustration for French and Aylesbury, as the Ducks’ midfielder ended an excellent long dribble with a skied effort that sailed high over the bar.

Half-time: Aylesbury 0-0 Wantage

The second period started with an early free kick for United, taken by Jake Bewley but easily caught by Cavanagh, but Aylesbury failed to hit the dominant heights they had enjoyed in the first period and had to wait a long time for their next attempt.

As both sides made substitutes, Onokwai was replaced by Sentain, and the attacking trio was then altered further as Taylor Collins entered the fray in place of Baines.

Oualah was called upon to make his first decent stop of the game, getting up effectively to turn over a curling shot from Harvey Scholes and keep his clean sheet intact.

Midway through the half and Collins tested Cavanagh with a free kick from just outside the box which had to be beaten away.

On 79 minutes Oualah had to be alert again when the ball was played in to substitute Zac Gunaralnam-Bailey who got away a decent low shot that was well held by the keeper.

There were still chances for Aylesbury to grab a late winner; firstly a superb pass by Wood found Hogg on the right whose low cross found Sentain who had a shot blocked, and from the resulting corner Collins’s ball found Wood in the six yard box who could only divert the ball over the bar.

Three minutes from time Cameron did well on the left to make progress towards goal before bending in a shot that had to be palmed away, and with little time remaining the match went straight to penalty kicks.

Full-time: Aylesbury 0-0 Wantage

The first six penalties – three from each side – were all successfully converted, with Reece Cameron, Ollie Hogg and Sonny French all scoring for Aylesbury, as did Jake Bewley to make things 4-3 in United’s favour.

Then came Oualah’s moment in the spotlight, as he guessed right and got down superbly to tip away Ryan Elliott’s effort. Getting straight up, the number one then took a long run up before placing penalty number five low down under Cavanagh’s body and sending his side through 5-3.

Aylesbury’s reward for progress is a match up against another Oxfordshire team and a visit to Kidlington in the second round.