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Match Report

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Report by Ian Pluck

Coming off the back of a defeat at Egham, a game where the Ducks perhaps deserved to pick up a point had their finishing been sharper, hopes were high for the visit to Northwood, sitting one place lower in the table and without a win in 9 matches. The squad was boosted by the signing of striker Aaron Couch, who went straight into the starting XI, partnering Tyriq Hunte up front in place of Harry Jones. The other change saw Ben Seaton return to midfield in place of the injured Reece Cameron.

Kicking off with the strong wind from Storm Brian behind them, the Ducks settled quickly and soon started playing the ball around on the floor, with neat inter passing throughout the team. However, it was the hosts who were to threaten first; Evans Kouassi did well on the right, beating Ryan Kinnane as he cut inside, but his shot was deflected wide of Jack Sillitoe’s near post by Jake Bewley for a corner.

In the 5th minute a great passing move between Tyriq Hunte, Sonny French and Bewley found Seaton on the left side of the penalty area. His low cross to French saw the attacking midfielder miskick in front of goal, with the ball finding its way to Couch, whose shot was blocked by a defender. After a quarter of an hour, Bewley found Ollie Hogg in space in midfield; he passed to Seaton who took a stride forward and hit a powerful shot, which rose above the crossbar. Shortly afterwards, a good corner delivery by Hogg saw Alex Collard meet the ball but he could only head straight at home keeper Brendan Hazlett.

Kouassi was proving to be a thorn in the side of the United defence; in the 21st minute he collected the ball after a loose throw in from United and played the ball inside to Jermaine Osei, whose shot from 20 yards flew across the face of goal. Two minutes later, George Robinson picked the ball up 25 yards from goal and hit a shot which dipped late, but just cleared the crossbar.

The pressure from the home side paid off in the 25th minute. A cross by Tashan Hayden-Smith was met with a glancing header from on loan Wealdstone striker Osei, which found its way into the far corner of the net to give the home side a deserved lead. 1-0 Northwood

Just 3 minutes later and the lead could have doubled. A poor first touch in midfield saw the ball fall to Harry Newman, whose shot from the edge of the area hit the near post and away for a goal kick.

With 15 minutes still to play in the half, a deep cross from Bewley found Jack Wood up supporting his strikers. Unfortunately the skipper’s knock down to Couch saw the striker’s shot well saved by Hazlett. Just two minutes later and Hunte could and perhaps should have equalised. A long ball over the top by Seaton was misjudged in the wind by Lewis Hobbs, leaving the striker one on one with Hazlett; sadly his lob over the keeper was narrowly wide of the target.

Half-time: Northwood 1-0 Aylesbury

A fast start to the second half was the order of the day in an attempt to get back in the game. It was almost delivered as a headed clearance form a corner saw the Ducks break quickly downfield. French passed to Bewley breaking down the left, who in turn found Hunte, who beat Hayden-Smith on the edge of the area but saw his shot well saved by Hazlett, who was having a fine game for the hosts.

However, despite starting the half brightly it was the Ducks who conceded the next goal, one which was avoidable. A long diagonal ball from Ryan Kinnane was held up in the wind, not reaching Wood on the right flank. Robinson collected the ball and played a ball through the defence to Osei. Kinnane’s tackle wasn’t strong enough to win the ball and it rebounded back to Osei, who calmly placed it beyond Sillitoe to double the lead. 2-0 Northwood

The second goal seemed to drain the confidence from the Ducks, as passes went astray, almost leading to a quick third goal. A poor back pass by Kinnane saw Sillitoe’s attempted clearance charged down by Osei, the ball falling to Kouassi, but the striker could only find the side netting with his shot.

On 58 minutes, Wood played a low ball towards Couch, whose shot was again well saved at the near post.

On 65, the home side striking partnership combined well again, with Kouassi finding Osei unmarked on the edge of the box; Sillitoe made a good save to prevent the score increasing. A Bewley cross was cleared as far as Hogg, who took aim and hit a powerful shot, but was disappointed to see it pass wide of the goal.

With 20 minutes remaining, it was game over. A ball through the middle of the defence saw Osei ride a half tackle from Hogg and beat Sillitoe with ease to complete a well taken hat-trick. 3-0 Northwood

This prompted a double substitution, Harry Jones and TJ Bartley replacing Greg Williams and Couch. Neither were able to make much impact on the game at this late stage, with both sides pretty much going through the motions for the final 15 minutes, although the Ducks did go close, two efforts from Lea Coulter in the final 5 minutes being the closest to a goal in the closing stages.

A sobering result from what on paper looked to be the easiest match in the coming weeks and has seen the Ducks drop below Northwood to 19th in the league. There will no doubt be plenty of soul searching and questions asked by the team and management ahead of the clash with high flying AFC Dunstable, as they look to arrest the current downturn in form and try to recapture the form and spirit that saw them successfully negotiate 3 rounds of the FA Cup earlier in the season.