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Match Report

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Match report by Ian Pluck

The next step on the road to Wembley was the assignment for Aylesbury United and Baldock Town, two teams with one thing in common, both forced to play outside of their home town. So, the match was played at Baldock’s current “home”, the Armadillo Stadium at Arlesey FC, on a day when heavy rain and a blustery wind was very much in evidence.

Manager Glyn Creaser was forced into two changes, with Jake Bewley and Greg Williams unavailable for today’s clash. Into the team in their place came Ryan Coyle, playing at right back, with Jack Wood switching to the left full back position and Ollie Stanbridge playing in the heart of the midfield alongside Sonny French and Ollie Hogg. One further change saw Reece Cameron return to the team, with Jamie Jellis taking a seat on the bench alongside Bruno Brito, Harry Jones and reserve keeper Michael Chalmers.

The hosts started the game at a high tempo, imposing their game on the Ducks and dominating possession in the first quarter of the game, but without it has to be said, any real attempts on Jack Sillitoe’s goal.

The first attempt on goal came from the visitors, as Sonny French picked up a clearance 25 yards from goal and fired in a shot which home keeper Jack Farmer was pleased to see go narrowly wide of his right hand post.

The first opportunity for Baldock came in the 24th minute. Indecision between Tyriq Hunte and Ollie Hogg in their own half saw Josh Coley take possession of the ball and drive forward over the half way line. Unchallenged as he approached the penalty area, he shot from 25 yards, but saw the ball rise harmlessly above Sillitoe’s goal.

Two minutes later, French had another opportunity from range; Lea Coulter brought the ball down well on the edge of the penalty area and laid the ball into the path of his team mate, however the result was the same as his previous effort, the ball drifting wide of Farmer’s post.

Just past the half hour, good work by Tyriq Hunte forced Stephen Brooks to concede a corner. From Reece Cameron’s delivery, the ball was cleared to French, who this time, seeing keeper Farmer off his line chipped the ball in, however the keeper was back in time to collect the ball from underneath his crossbar. As the ball was played forward, Coley picked up a headed clearance from Ryan Kinnane, but again saw his shot sail harmlessly wide of goal.

In the 36th minute a miscued defensive header from Cameron was collected by Owen Robertson wide on the right. His cross to the back post found striker Harry Holland, who took the ball down and shot fiercely at Sillitoe, who pulled off a sensational save to prevent the opening goal of the game.

In a game which had developed into an end to end contest in the appalling weather, it was Hunte who was next threaten to open the scoring. Ollie Stanbridge won the ball in midfield and laid the ball into French, who in turn fed Hunte, breaking into the penalty area. However, having got himself into a shooting position, his finish lacked composure like so many of the efforts previously, and sailed over the bar.

As half time approached, the Ducks finally broke the deadlock. A French free kick deep to the far post was headed back into the six-yard box by Alex Collard, where his central defensive partner Kinnane was well placed to fire home and open the scoring. 1-0 Aylesbury

It looked as if a second goal could have been on the cards just moments later, as a slide rule pass split the defence to allow Hunte to run through unopposed, only to hear the referee whistle for half time before he could make his way to the penalty area.

Half-time: Baldock 0-1 Aylesbury

Straight from the kick off and the hosts almost drew level. A fine cross from Josh Furness on the left saw Robertson outjump Jack Wood at the far post, only to see his header strike the junction of post and crossbar and bounce over the goal.

On 52 minutes, a deep free kick was aimed at the 6-yard box, where Sillitoe did very well under pressure from 3 attacking players to punch the ball clear of his area; just a minute later a ball forward found Coley who turned and played the ball to Alex Coppin, whose shot from 25 yards was well tipped over the bar by Sillitoe, who was having a fine match.

On the hour mark, Wood won the ball on the half way line and moved inside. He played a simple pass into Lea Coulter, who in turn slid a pass between the centre back and left back for Hunte to run onto. The powerful striker showed great pace to reach the ball and expertly place it under the dive of keeper Farmer to double the lead. 2-0 Aylesbury

On 76 minutes, a long free kick found Lewis Barker, who turned and shot from the edge of the area, only to see his goal bound effort deflected away for a corner.

With five minutes remaining a cross from Holland on the left saw Barker rise highest, but again the precision wasn’t there, as his header fell wide of the goal.

Deep into added on time a corner from the left was half cleared by Alex Collard, but only as far as substitute Zach Decker at the far post, who hit an unstoppable volley past Sillitoe from an acute angle to halve the lead and give the hosts a goal their efforts deserved. 1-2

Despite the referee playing on for another minute after the goal, the Ducks saw the game out to complete the win and progress to the 3rd qualifying round for the first time since the 2008/2009 season, when they famously went on to win at Bath City. All eyes will now be on the draw for the next match, to be held on Monday.

Next up is a quick turn round, with a match on Monday evening at Beaconsfield Town in the Berks and Bucks Senior Cup.