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Match Report



Aylesbury kept their upturn in form going to record their first league double of the season as Horatio Hirst’s first goal for the club secured a narrow win at Ashford Town (Mx), to make it four matches unbeaten for the Ducks.

The Tangerines themselves came into the match on a wretched run of form after four straight defeats, culminating in a 4-1 humbling at the hands of Hanwell Town at the weekend, but they never looked a side devoid of confidence and United, as at Marlow a week earlier, had to work extremely hard for the points.

In their only change from the weekend, Ollie Hogg returned to the team in place of Ollie Stanbridge, with Jeanmal Prosper dropping in to right-back position. On-loan midfielder Connor Furlong was unavailable having been called back for two days of training by parent club MK Dons with a chance to impress new manager Dan Micchiche.

Ashford had been forced into the lunchtime signing of experienced goalkeeper Craig Bradshaw – who previously played against the Ducks in the FA Cup for Westfield in 2013/14 – following illness to regular stopper Tyler Tobin.

The game was only two minutes old when Jack Beadle was drilling a low shot from wide into the side netting, but Aylesbury created a better opening two minutes later for Sonny French who bent a shot over the bar after Harry Jones and then Hirst had moved the ball across the box.

French was the shining light in an otherwise turgid opening to the match that saw both sides working hard but largely cancelling each other out. His fine solo play on 19 minutes saw him drift past several defenders but his final shot was straight at Bradshaw.

The hosts might have done better when Alex Fisher’s curling free kick picked out centre half Mitchal Gough rising highest, but he could only head well over the bar.

Ten minutes before the break and Ashford were starting to take control of proceedings as they went close again. Max Webb made his way into the box before screwing a low shot across the face of goal which James Cottee was inches away from applying the finishing touch to.

Then, Tom Howard picked Prosper’s pocket allowing him to whip in a shot from the left that zipped just wide beyond the far post, and a minute later Samad Kazi was volleying wildly wide having latched on to Jack Wood’s headed clearance.

Having soaked up all the pressure, Aylesbury would have been happy enough getting to the interval on level terms, but, with a goal out of nowhere, they edged ahead.

Jack Sillitoe’s long clearance downfield was allowed to bounce by the home defence, allowing Sonny French a run into the box which he used to full effect before squaring for the waiting Hirst who finished with great composure. 1-0 Aylesbury

Half-time: Ashford 0-1 Aylesbury

Early controversy in the second half amounted to nothing when Bradshaw appeared to tip the ball away from Horatio Hirst as he attempted to round him outside the area having received a through pass.

On 53 minutes United went close to a second when Hogg’s intelligent low free kick picked out Callum Mapley whose fierce shot took a double ricochet before flying narrowly wide for a corner kick.

Hirst was next to have a chance when a misplaced shot fell his way allowing the young Sheffield United loanee to chest and half volley it the wrong side of the upright.

The match continued to echo the one at Marlow as Aylesbury successfully soaked up everything that Ashford had to throw at them, and it took until the 72nd minute before the hosts managed a shot at goal when James Cottee teed up Scott Weight whose daisy cutter was always going wide.

Soon afterwards and the Ducks wasted a glorious chance to put the game to bed. An intercepted pass in midfield was worked quickly to Harry Jones who found himself bearing down on goal with only Bradshaw to beat, but, with the goal at his mercy, his early shot was sent sailing over the crossbar.

Instead of a comfortable two-goal cushion, Aylesbury resultantly found themselves spending large parts of the final ten minutes under the cosh.

Ashford’s leading scorer Jack Beadle rode a Wood challenge before planting a shot wide of Sillitoe’s goal, and the United keeper remained untested when Fisher’s ball in found Cottee for an instant volley that also missed the target.

It was to be about as good as it got for the hosts, although a stunning 45-yard+ effort from the impressive Mitchal Gough nearly surprised Sillitoe as it headed for the top corner but was kept just about kept out.

Late on Fisher sent a shot straight through to Sillitoe, but it ended a very pleasing 1-0 win to the Ducks who moved up another position in the league table to 17th.