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Match Report

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A stunning late comeback saw Aylesbury knock out Premier Division opponents for the second year running to reach the Southern League Cup quarter finals.

With Banbury United cruising at 2-0, few would have predicted the final outcome as supersubs Bruno Brito and Lea Coulter inspired a remarkable recovery that saw three quality goals in the final fourteen minutes to turn the tie on its head.

Brito was back in the squad having missed the weekend’s win over Northwood, and Coulter after a few weeks non-involvement, whilst there were changes to the starting lineup too with Ryan Kinnane joining Ollie Hogg on the sidelines, and replaced by Alex Collard in defence. Jonny Miller was rested allowing Gavin Hinds-Cadette a first start since October having recovered from his own injury problems.

An even start to proceedings saw Aylesbury show glimpses of decent football, with Reece Cameron having the night’s first shot when he hammered a 25-yarder well over the bar.

Hinds-Cadette laid the ball back to Jordon Frederick for a curling cross that was met by Troy Witter on eight minutes, but his skimming header was easily caught by Jack Harding in the Banbury goal.

The Puritans soon began to exert control of the game, and took the lead after twelve minutes. A ball across from the left flank was met with a smart turn and tee up for Mark Bell to sweep a crisp finish beyond Zaki Oualah. 1-0 Banbury

The visitors were soon threatening again when Darius Browne arched a well struck shot just over the crossbar, and they had a penalty appeal turned away when Bell – who was involved in most of Banbury’s good work – went down under contact from his former teammate Ollie Stanbridge.

Bell was only denied his second moments later by the crossbar, Eddie Odhiambo playing a searching pass forwards to the midfielder who eventually got his shot away which crashed back off the woodwork.

Midway through the half and a flowing move from the Ducks ended with a blocked shot, but that only gave rise to a quick Banbury counter which was wasted by a final shot being slashed wide.

Aylesbury then went close again when a ball forwards picked out Greg Williams’s charge forwards, and he in turn found Cameron who advanced on goal but was unable to beat Harding on his near post.

With Banbury still retaining the cutting edge in the final third, it came as little surprise when the lead was doubled just past the half hour mark. Bell was the creator this time, his corner causing problems for Oualah and Luke Carnell was able to find the net. 2-0 Banbury

The damage on a downhearted-looking Aylesbury could have been worse before the break as the Puritans dominated. Jacob Blackstock drilled a shot over from wide having been found by Bell, and, on 36 minutes Jack Self collected a loose ball as Aylesbury failed to clear their lines, seeing his shot held by Oualah.

The Ducks then caused more problems for themselves when Oualah played a risky ball to Stanbridge who was immediately pressurised into losing possession, Darius Browne beating Oualah with his shot but not Frederick, who made a heroic last-ditch clearance on the line.

Half-time: Aylesbury 0-2 Banbury

The second period started and it was hard to see where an Aylesbury goal would come from, though Williams threatened early on when he was just unable to turn home a near post cross from Hinds-Cadette after the full back’s marauding run.

Then came a double substitution which was to dramatically alter the course of the game, with Brito and Coulter replacing Cameron and Witter respectively.

It wasn’t long before Coulter was involved, feeding off Frederick’s good work in winning the ball back he struck a fierce drive from range which smacked against the crossbar.

Still, there appeared to be little danger to Banbury’s lead, and with the visitors having begun cruising towards the finish line they allowed Aylesbury to score what was assumed to be a consolation, fourteen minutes from the end.

Bruno Brito started and finished the move, sublimely spraying the ball out left for Jake Bewley to get forward, and his cross was just as impressive to pick out the on-running Brito who found the net with an excellent scissor kick. 1-2

Bell had a chance with a dead central free kick that he put wide from the edge of the box, but Aylesbury were visibly buoyed by their goal, and shocked their visitors with another sensational goal to draw level.

Brito conjured up another moment of magic with a fabulous crossfield pass releasing Coulter into space, and he needed no invitation as he waited for the ball to drop before unleashing a venomous strike into the top corner to beat Harding all ends up. 2-2

With the game now level and thoughts of both sets of supporters turning to penalties (no extra time in this competition), defender Luke Carnell wasted a good chance to edge his side back in front when he headed a free kick straight at Oualah.

Two minutes from time Brito himself fired wide after Coulter had found him with a fine pass of his own over the defence, the forward running on but planting his powerful shot high and wide of the target.

That looked to be that, but the Portuguese had one more moment of brilliance left in him to secure a memorable win, in the 93rd minute. Receiving the ball 20-yards out, and with his back to goal, he lofted it up and over the stranded Harding into the empty net. Majestic. 3-2 Aylesbury

Three exceptional goals that would have graced any football ground in the country, and, out of nowhere, the Ducks were leading the game with only seconds left to see out, which they did successfully. Tremendous character shown by the team yet again, and a winning run extended to four games for the first time since early 2014/15.