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Match Report

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Match report by Ian Pluck

The Ducks were dealt a double blow shortly before kick off this afternoon, as first Ollie Hogg was forced to pull out of the starting XI after straining his hamstring, followed shortly before kick off by Mark Riddick, who was ill. Into the line up came Jamie Jellis, playing the last match of his loan spell from Stevenage, and veteran midfielder Greg Williams. This left just two substitutes, Ken Feyi and Melvy N’Somi. Harry Jones, playing at right back again in the absence of both Anthony Ball and Jordan Jenkins, was making his 100th appearance for the club.

With the late changes to the line-up, it was perhaps no surprise that the Ducks were not at their recent fluid best, the visitors taking the initiative, although neither side was able to muster an effort which troubled the keeper in the first 20 minutes. The first clear opportunity came when Dave O’Connor misplaced a pass out from defence, which resulted in Eusebio Da Silva crossing low and hard across the six-yard box, where Williams slid in to block the attempt on goal.

Three minutes later a free kick was awarded 35 yards out, which saw Jack Bradshaw step up to strike a powerful shot, which clipped the outside of the post, with Jack Hopwood beaten.

The pattern of play was pretty much all one way at this stage, Charlie Payne winning the ball in his own half before setting Da Silva free on goal. It took a magnificent challenge by Jones as the striker shot to maintain the clean sheet.

On the half hour, George Ironton picked up the ball on the right edge of the penalty area and drove to the bye line, before crossing towards the near post where O’Connor deflected the ball over the bar for a corner.

The first attack on goal for the Ducks almost brought the opening goal. A superb diagonal ball from the half way line saw Ty Deacon beat the offside line and go clear on goal. Unfortunately for him, his shot across the keeper from 18 yards struck the foot of the post and away to safety.

Four minutes before half time and again Jones came to the rescue of his team. A ball forward was headed on by Da Silva towards Callum Stead, whose cross from the right was met by Payne. His shot was well saved by Hopwood, with the follow up effort blocked by Jones.

In added on time a shot by Jesse Walklin was fumbled by Hopwood into the path of Da Silva. However, the striker struggled to control the ball and was adjudged to have fouled the goalkeeper as he attempted to get a shot away.

Half-time: Aylesbury 0-0 Welwyn

The second half started in the same vein as the first. The visitors thought they had taken the lead when Payne fired home a cross from Ironton, but Da Silva was given offside from the original cross.

Following this Williams went down injured, the victim of a collision which left him with a bloody nose. Following a lengthy delay, the veteran midfielder continued, wearing a “blood shirt”.

On the hour Ironton found Stead on the right, who cut inside Jake Bewley but his shot was wide of the far post. A flurry of substitutions followed around this time, with Feyi and N’Somi replacing Jamie Rudd and Williams.

Feyi was into the action quickly, using his strength to good effect to cause different problems for the opposition. However, it was again the visitors who threatened next; Stead did very well to control a long cross field ball, before pulling the ball back to substitute Dave Keenleyside, whose first time shot from the edge of the area was tipped over the bar by Hopwood.

Shortly afterwards a free kick from Ironton was headed out under pressure by Jack Wood, but only as far as Lee Close on the edge of the penalty area, but his shot was high over the cross bar.

The next attack saw a cross from Stead headed against the crossbar by Da Silva as the visitors piled pressure on to a resolute Ducks defence. Eight minutes from time a ball played into the left channel for Da Silva who took a touch before firing a shot across Hopwood, which the keeper did well to divert away with his feet.

As the game entered added on time, Hopwood was again the saviour. Stead’s shot from the right was blocked, but it fell to Da Silva 6 yards out; the keeper was quickly out to block the follow up shot with his legs.

With three minutes added on time played, an innocuous foul by Jellis on Callum Taylor saw players rush in to get involved in an unseemly melee. After the trouble had subsided, referee Russell Jones consulted with his assistants and decided to send off Da Silva and show the yellow card to Feyi. A few others could consider themselves lucky to stay on the pitch afterwards, their actions unseen by the officials. This was to be the last meaningful action of the game, ne which the hosts were grateful for a share of the points and the visitors aggrieved to go home without a win.

On the balance of play, no one could have complained if this had been an away win, but yet again, this was a match which would have taken a different turn last season. It is a sign of the resilience and togetherness of the team that this was the tenth clean sheet in the league this season in 15 matches. Nonetheless, a win for Halesowen at rock bottom Wantage meant the Ducks slip to 4th place in the league, just ahead of Bedford and today’s visitors.