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Match Report

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Aylesbury returned to winning ways with victory at out of form Fleet Town, but it should have been a much more resounding win than Sonny French’s solitary goal gave them.

Newly signed goalkeeper Jack Hopwood made his debut after his midweek transfer from Tring Athletic in one of three changes, with Aaron Berry making his full debut in attack and eventual match winner French returning to the team.

French’s goal arrived right at the end of a first half that saw the Ducks utterly dominant, yet unable to make a breakthrough as chance after chance came to nothing.

From the first whistle Aylesbury were on the front foot; French slotted in Horatio Hirst who in turn picked out Harry Jones with a low ball for a shot that was hacked away off the goal line.

Five minutes later, and with a rare foray deep into their visitors’ half, Fleet won a corner kick from which Billy Oran picked out captain Matt Bunyan who was alarmingly left unattended but powered his header over the bar.

It was a warning sign but no more, with play predominantly continuing in and around the Fleet penalty box.

On eight minutes Berry and Jeanmal Prosper combined on the right with the latter’s cross-cum-shot spinning into the path of French who sent a first time effort over the goal, and it was quickly followed with a similarly off target attempt by Berry himself having been set up by French.

Aylesbury kept up their ‘shoot on sight’ policy with Prosper blasting a long ranger over, then Ollie Hogg getting in on the act and doing similar twice in two minutes.

Berry and French spurned further chances with poor efforts, before Hirst at last called goalkeeper Liam Beach into action when he latched onto Berry’s knock on and lifted a shot over Beach but just the wrong side of the post.

The sequence continued and next it was Greg Williams’s turn to miss the target, scooping over from close range after a half cleared corner was fired back towards goal by French before eventually falling for Williams.

Williams soon went closer still when he followed up as Beach clawed away Jake Bewley’s corner kick, heading the ball goalwards where a well-stationed defender just prevented the ball crossing the line.

Aylesbury sensed they were getting closer and a miss-hit right-footed cross from Bewley was heading for the top corner until Beach intervened and tipped it over.

On 34 minutes the greens hit the woodwork when a brilliant French through ball put Jones in behind the defence and the youngster did everything right with a composed finish, but Beach just got fingertips to it to touch it onto the post.

There was another rare moment of concern in the Ducks backline ten minutes from the interval when a swift break downfield ended with a low cross into the box that Mapley had to fire just over his own goal.

A difficult first half for Fleet then took a further turn for the worst when referee Mr Harris brandished a red card to defender Chris Musgrove for a clear pull back on Hirst who had been played in on goal.

The resulting free kick was fired disappointing into the wall by French, but it wasn’t long before Aylesbury were more seriously testing the home defence once more when Hogg’s corner kick was met at the near post by Williams only for Beach to make a smart stop with his legs.

United nearly shot themselves in the foot when a pass back from Jones was woefully underhit, but the home striker didn’t make the most of the chance as Hopwood was out quickly to divert the ball wide.

Just as it looked like the Ducks would have to be content with a blank at the break, French popped up with what turned out to be the decider. Collecting the ball on the touchline, the midfielder dribbled across the box before burying a fine shot just inside the post. 1-0 Aylesbury

Half-time: Fleet 0-1 Aylesbury

As a Jones misplaced cross just missed the top corner, and a Hogg shot deflected just wide after good work by Hirst, resulting in a corner that Mapley had a header well saved, it looked like it was simply to be ‘more of the same’ for Aylesbury’s second half.

Four minutes into the half and a ball into Berry saw the striker fire in a well struck effort that drew a sensational save from young goalkeeper Beach to tip it over at full stretch.

Hogg brought the ball forward and drove a long shot just wide, and the same player then struck a half volley into the ground where it bounced just wide having been picked out by a left sided cross from Bewley.

A chipped cross/shot from Fleet’s best player Toyosi Olusanya had to be tipped over by Hopwood, and when the following corner kick was half cleared Ashley Lloyd returned it high, wide and not very handsomely off target.

The match continued to resemble shooting practise for the Ducks, with French and Bewley both trying their luck from distance but failing to test Beach.

Meanwhile, the new attacking partnership of Hirst and Berry showed another promising moment when the former reached the byeline before finding his colleague with a low pass that was touched towards goal but squeezed wide.

Despite this, as the second half minutes had ticked by the Ducks had become increasingly sloppy in their play, which invited home pressure on a lead that remained just the one goal when it really should have been comfortable.

Fleet were only able to muster one serious effort of note though, coming in the last minute of normal time when substitute Danilo Cadete found himself clear of the defence but Hopwood was off his line quickly to save and the ball stuck in the sticky mud rather than running towards the empty goal.

The closing stages remained as most of the match had been, Aylesbury repeatedly missing the target with each wayward attempt seemingly more woeful than the last.

Sonny French headed wide from Prosper’s cross, Hirst yet again got to the deadball line before cutting the ball back just behind Aaron Couch, though it still ran for fellow substitute Ben Seaton who crashed it over the goal.

Couch then found himself in for a one-on-one and although Beach was beaten, his shot rolled past the wrong side of the post. Couch’s misery was further compounded in stoppage time when French was completely free down the left before squaring for his teammate who got his feet tangled and completely miss-hit the ball.

On this occasion the numerous glaring misses didn’t come back to haunt Aylesbury, as they took another important three points with the final whistle not long in sounding.

Next up for the Ducks is another side struggling for form as Egham Town visit The Meadow, before a trip to rock bottom Arlesey Town as United look to further add to their points tally.