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Match Report

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Match report by Leon O'Sullivan

The Ducks made their first trip to Welwyn Garden City FC in the hopes of a good result against a club who have suffered a tumultuous couple of weeks, but were met with firm resistance from their hosts. Ben Williams made four changes to his starting lineup following last week's heavy defeat to Didcot, with Archie Davis returning in goal, Callum Mapley replacing Chris Crook in central defence, Tre Mitford replacing Aaron Berry at centre forward, and Sonny French making his first start since early November in place of Harry Tucker.

The first half was one of few chances for either side, with the Ducks holding the hosts at bay and seeing plenty of the ball, but unable to force their way through a very well-organised Welwyn defence. Perhaps the best chance of the opening 45 minutes came 12 minutes in, when a French cross from the left was cleverly nodded by Harry Jones into the path of Max Hercules, whose well-hit and goal-bound shot from the edge of the area was deflected out for a corner by a brave defender.

On 31 minutes, Tre Mitford's through ball found Jones beyond the defensive line, and he smashed his shot against the crossbar, although he was adjudged to have been offside by the linesman.

At half time, many in attendance would have correctly predicted the eventual 0-0 scoreline, but the second half offered a lot more action as the game suddenly opened up into end-to-end stuff at times. With 56 minutes on the clock, some nice approach play from Aylesbury led to Jones firing the ball across the face of goal from a narrow angle, and a minute later Hercules set up French who also shot narrowly wide.

With Aylesbury increasingly pushing for an opening goal, Welwyn began to find space for their own offence, and on 64 minutes they had Davis beaten with a spectacular long-range effort from Jordan Edwards. Much to the relief of the Ducks in attendance, the shot struck the angle between post and bar, and within seconds Mitford was charging into the Welwyn box only to be chopped down clumsily for a pretty obvious Ducks penalty kick.

In recent weeks both Ollie Hogg and Mitford have failed to successfully convert from 12 yards, and it was Hogg's turn again this time. Unfortunately, he was unable to quite find the target, as his spot kick hit the goalkeeper's right-hand post. Still the game remained goalless.

Three minutes later, it was Welwyn's turn to threaten as they moved the ball smartly from right to left and found Edwards in space, but in a one-on-one situation he was denied superbly by Davis, en route to his second consecutive personal clean sheet.

Aaron Berry entered the field as Ben Williams made his intentions to try and win the game clear, and the pressure continued to grow on the Welwyn defence throughout the remaining 20 minutes. A Berry half-volley was powered over the bar, fellow substitute Ben Seaton's underhit effort was saved by Lewis Todd, and Berry set up Mitford, who chose to turn and shoot rather than play the ball into the path of French, but was only able to find the post with Todd beaten.

Still the Ducks pressed, and with two minutes remaining the influential French set up Mitford again, but his shot was just clawed away by Todd. It was another frustrating afternoon for Mitford, who was as lively and threatening as ever, but was unable to quite find the finishing touch. He had one more chance in stoppage time but was once again denied by Todd, who would have been glad to hear the full-time whistle as he was increasingly being called into action.

As an entertaining second half came to an end, the hosts were cheered off the pitch, their recently-rebuilt playing staff having achieved another hard-earned point, while the Ducks were left to stew on a third consecutive draw away from home, and one they will certainly feel they could have won.

Next up for United is the first ever visit of Yaxley next Saturday, following a ten-goal thriller between the sides in Cambridgeshire back in September.