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Match Report

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Match report by Ian Pluck

Fresh from the Bank Holiday victory at Kidlington, the Ducks returned to the ASM Stadium, looking for a second successive home win after the Boxing Day win against rivals Aylesbury FC. Two changes to the starting line up saw Sonny French and Jordon Frederick return for the unavailable Bruno Brito and Ollie Hogg, who sustained an injury in the last match.

The game was a slow burner, with the Ducks dominating the opening exchanges, passing the ball well in midfield without really creating too much alarm for the visiting defence. Indeed, it wasn’t until the 15th minute that the home side had an attempt on target; Olly Stanbridge found Reece Cameron, but the striker’s shot lacked the pace to trouble Montel Joseph in goal, the keeper making a comfortable save.

Northwood had a great opportunity to open the scoring in the 23rd minute, ex Duck Mark Burgess playing a long ball from defence into the path of Alex De La Salle, who in turn found Myles Stephenson advancing towards the goal. Fortunately for the Ducks, Jack Wood was well positioned to deflect his shot away for a corner.

In the 36th minute, good work by Greg Williams prevented the ball going out for a goal kick; he laid the ball into the path of Jake Bewley whose pinpoint cross found the head of Troy Witter, but his attempt on goal didn’t find the target.

Three minutes before half time, a deep Northwood corner found Mark Burgess, whose header back across goal was met on the volley by De La Salle, but he couldn’t keep his effort down, the ball flying high and wide of Oualah’s goal. Two minutes into injury time Northwood threatened again. Callum Wright, who had been a threat all half again beat Jonny Miller and squared to Luke Heneghan on the edge of the box, but his shot was deflected for a corner. Heneghan took the corner himself and found Wright, but again his shot was off target.

Half-time: Aylesbury 0-0 Northwood

Contrary to the start in the first half, the Ducks started the second with much better intensity. Stanbridge found Williams in the right channel, who squared the ball across the box. Witter couldn’t get a touch on the ball, but it fell to Sonny French, but his shot was saved by Joseph. From the resulting corner, Witter rose highest in the 6 yard box to score his first goal for the Ducks. 1-0 Aylesbury

With their tails up, the Ducks were back on the attack; a loose clearance was picked up by French, who laid it square into the path of Stanbridge, however the midfielder’s shot was deflected wide.

As the hour mark approached, Heneghan was again the threat. Leaving 3 defenders in his wake, he found his way into the penalty box, but his shot was high, wide and not so handsome! Centre back Gradi Milenge picked the ball up 25 yards out and shot at goal, but again the ball was deflected wide. From the resulting corner, the home side broke upfield at pace.

Substitute Gavin Hinds-Cadette found French who had a shot blocked, it rebounded to Cameron, but again his effort was deflected for a corner. In the 71st minute, Greg Williams had a chance to double the lead. A long free kick by Oualah was headed across goal by Cameron, but the veteran midfielder miskicked in front of goal.

Northwood skipper James Burgess almost got his team back in the game in the 75th minute; a long free kick from Alex Nolan finding its way to the skipper, but his shot lacked composure from a tight angle and flew high over the bar.

In truth, United were controlling the game easily, and it came as no surprise when they doubled their lead in the 83rd minute. Cameron robbed Mark Burgess on the right and crossed to French. His first attempt was saved by Joseph, but he had the presence of mind to follow up and bury his second attempt for a decisive goal. 2-0 Aylesbury

Four minutes from time, another deep corner from Northwood found James Burgess at the far post, but his header was well defended by Miller at the expense of a second corner. This time the Ducks defended it well, with Jack Wood leading the break upfield. He played in Sonny French, but Jamie Doolan made a fine goal saving tackle, preventing a third goal.

Just as the Ducks defence were thinking of celebrating a second successive home clean sheet, in the third minute of injury time Milenge rose highest in the box to power home what was a consolation goal, the referee blowing for full time soon after the restart. 1-2

So, a third successive win moving the Ducks up to 8th in the table. Next up is the visit of Banbury United, who sit 7th in the Premier Division on Wednesday in the League Cup, a good test of a team who are playing well for each other. This is followed by the short trip to Chalfont St Peter next Saturday.