The Evo-Stik League South
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Match Report

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Match report by Ian Pluck

For this match at 7th placed Cambridge City, who had beaten the Ducks 6-1 in the reverse fixture to bring down the curtain on Glyn Creaser’s tenure, Ben Williams was forced to reshuffle his defence. Skipper Jack Wood withdrew on the morning of the match through sickness, forcing Jeanmal Prosper to move inside to partner Callum Mapley, with Ollie Stanbridge starting at right back. Greg Williams returned in the centre of midfield to captain the side, the final change from Wednesday's match being Matt Peake-Pijnen replacing Harry Jones.

It was almost a dream start for the Ducks, as straight from the kick off Sonny French caught Jordan Gent dithering on the ball on the edge of his own penalty area. French stole the ball and advanced into the area, but on the bobbly pitch the ball stuck under his feet and Gent recovered to clear for a corner.

French was again in the action two minutes in; an Ollie Hogg corner kick was cleared to him on the edge of the penalty area, but his volley was charged down by an onrushing Jordan Williams.

In an action-packed start to the game, Gent went close when he met a Ryan Towner corner with his head 12 yards out but his goal bound effort was blocked. His follow up effort when the ball rebounded back to him was not so effective, his shot flying high over the bar.

A foul on Ollie Hogg by Ebby Nelson-Addy offered Mapley a chance from 25 yards, but home debutant keeper Josh Bexon made a comfortable save, tipping the ball over the bar for a corner.

The frantic start to the match continued with another corner for the home side, Towner's set piece delivery this time met by Williams, but Hopwood made a comfortable save. In the 24th minute, Ben Robinson spotted Hopwood off his line and smashed the ball from 45 yards towards goal, however, the keeper did very well to back pedal and claw the ball out from under his bar to keep the goal intact.

Two minutes later, Nathan Olukanmi did well on the right and saw his cross deflected for a corner by Greg Williams. From the resulting corner kick, Towner's delivery was perfect for James Hall, stealing in at the far post unmarked to head home his 12th goal of the season. 1-0 Cambridge

Just as half time was approaching, a Jake Bewley free kick from the right was played to Ben Seaton by French, the midfielder's shot from the edge of the area just clipping the bar and going out for a goal kick.

Half-time: Cambridge 1-0 Aylesbury

On the hour mark French and Seaton combined again resulting in a backheel by Seaton to Aaron Berry, who saw his shot from 15 yards blocked by Williams.

Two minutes later and the league's top scorer Ryan Sharman had his first real sight of goal; a throw in was flicked into his path but with the goal at his mercy he skied his shot over the bar.

On 70 minutes Prosper was caught in possession by Sharman and was forced to pass back towards Hopwood, however his back pass was under hit and intercepted by Hall, who chipped the keeper but looked on as his attempt landed on the roof of the net.

In the 83rd minute a Stanbridge cross was headed out as far as Bewley, 25 yards from goal, who took aim and hit a left foot shot which was always rising and cleared the crossbar.

With four minutes remaining, Hall had a great opportunity to double his tally; a cross from Seymour-Shove on the right found the striker unmarked 12 yards out, but he dallied too long before attempting to get his shot away, with Stanbridge able to recover and clear his lines.

As the game approached the 90th minute, Sharman chased a long ball down the right and beat Hopwood to the ball. With the keeper down on the ground, Sharman tried to shoot from wide of the penalty area, but saw his effort roll agonisingly across goal with substitute Lewis Wilson unable to apply the final touch.

The last chance of the match fell to Mapley, after French had been fouled by home skipper Ross Paterson 30 yards from goal. The defender stepped up and took the free kick, but saw his shot comfortably clear the bar.

So, the game ended in defeat, and while it may have been a disappointing result, there was much to admire about the Ducks' play on the day. While it is difficult to single individuals out, the evergreen Greg Williams covered just about every blade of grass on the pitch, supporting both attack and defence and was often in just the right place at the right time to affect the play. Seaton and French were at their mercurial best and with a bit more luck both could have scored to give the Ducks some reward for their hard work. Finally, mention for Ollie Stanbridge, who having not played regularly of late and asked to play out of position, worked extremely hard to nullify a good winger on his side of the pitch.

While the recent playing record has been good, if anything this game showed the next level the team needs to reach to take them up to challenge the top teams next season.