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Match Report

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Match report by David 'Brains' Figg

Aylesbury United's hopes of closing the gap on leading duo Corby Town and Berkhamsted suffered a blow as they slipped to a 1-4 away defeat by promotion rivals Halesowen Town at a wet The Grove on Saturday.

The Ducks went into the game on the back of being held to a 1-1 home draw with 13th placed Yaxley the previous Saturday which, with results elsewhere the same day, had left them in 5th place in the table level on points with 4th placed Welwyn Garden City (but behind on goal difference).

Meanwhile, Halesowen went into the game on the back of a shock 2-0 home FA Trophy 1st Round Proper Replay win over Vanarama National League North side Bradford Park Avenue in midweek, which had taken their unbeaten run in all competitions to 12 games dating back to a 2-2 home draw with Stamford in the FA Trophy 1st Qualifying Round on 29th October.

That run had seen them go into Saturday's game in 3rd place, 2 points ahead of both Aylesbury and Welwyn Garden City but 3 points behind 2nd placed Berkhamsted with leaders Corby a further 2 points ahead.

What was already going to be a tough task for The Ducks against a side hotly tipped for promotion was made even more difficult as Ben Williams' side went into the game with Sonny French, Ollie Hogg, Dave O'Connor, Mark Riddick, Jamie Rudd and Greg Williams all missing due to illness, injury or unavailability and only only one available substitute in Jacob Hutchinson.

The first chance came Halesowen's way when Paul McCone picked up a loose ball 5 yards inside the Aylesbury half to the left of the centre circle and saw his low diagonal through ball on the left intended for Josh Hawker get a touch off Ducks defender Anthony Ball. The ball ran to James Bowen on the left who let it run before having his cross from the left edge of the box held in the middle by Ducks keeper Jack Hopwood with just 40 seconds on the watch.

The hosts went close in the 5th minute when a low square ball infield from the right found Hawker by the right front corner of the D, who took a touch before seeing his attempted chip headed out by Ball back to him. Hawker took a touch to control with his knees before seeing his diagonal right foot chip from 30 yards find the on-running Robbie Bunn inside the left of the box, who beat Ball before firing his right foot shot from just inside the left hand corner of the 6 yard box wide of Hopwood's right hand post.

Then in the 7th minute, Halesowen took the lead when Hawker's left foot free kick from the right towards the far post found a stretching Ahmed Ali who steered his left foot shot from 3 yards across goal and in off Hopwood's left hand post. 1-0 Aylesbury

United's first chance came in the 14th minute when Ken Feyi's right foot free kick from outside the front left of the box was held at head height by Town keeper Brendon Bunn.

The hosts went close in the 15th minute when Hawker's low cross-field ball from right to left of middle found Ali 40 yards out, who took a touch before sending a low diagonal through ball to Montel Gibson who fired his right foot shot from 6 yards wide of Hopwood's right hand post while under challenge from Jordan Jenkins.

It was 2-0 in the 25th minute when Robbie Bunn's low flicked diagonal through ball on the right found the on-running Jamie Ashmore inside the right of the box who ran towards the byeline before pulling it back low to Jamie Molyneux. His miskick saw the ball run back to Gibson who took a touch with his right foot inside the right hand corner of the D before firing his low left foot shot from the edge of the box past a flat-footed Hopwood into his left hand corner. 2-0 Halesowen

A chance came Aylesbury's way in the 26th minute when Lewis Osbourne's low diagonal ball from the middle found Melvy N'Somi on the left, who ran forward before seeing his cross find the in-running and unmarked Feyi who sent his driven header from 12 yards over the bar to Bunn's right without troubling the keeper.

Town went close just before the end of the 30th minute when Bowen's corner from the left to the near post was headed out by Jenkins to Ali, who fired his left foot shot over the bar.

Another chance came the hosts' way just into the 35th minute when Robbie Bunn's short low diagonal ball from right of middle to left of middle found Ali, who turned his man twice before firing his right foot shot from 20 yards wide of Hopwood's right hand post.

Town went close again in the 40th minute when McCone's long diagonal aerial ball from left to right was headed out to Ashmore, who took a touch before having his right foot shot from 25 yards tipped over the bar by Hopwood for a corner.

Another chance came Halesowen's way just into the 44th minute when Robbie Bunn's short low free kick from 40 yards out on the left found Rob Evans whose low first time ball forward found the on-running Bunn, who made a diagonal run forward and cut in before having his low right foot shot from 28 yards pushed past his right hand post by Hopwood.

Then with just 1 second of normal time left at the end of the half, it was 3-0 in slightly comical circumstances. A loose Aylesbury clearance was picked up on the left of middle by Bowen whose low diagonal ball found Bunn on the left who took a touch before crossing. However, Jack Wood's attempted clearance rebounded of team-mate Ty Deacon at point blank range and into Hopwood's bottom right hand corner. Although Ali was in close proximity and the home PA announcer announced it as Ali's goal, it clearly went in off Deacon. 3-0 Halesowen

Half-time: Halesowen 3-0 Aylesbury

The first chance of the second half came Town's way in the 53rd minute when Bowen won a challenge with Ben Seaton on the left before sending a low through ball to Molyneux, who took a touch and cut in before having his right foot shot from 16 yards held at his right hand post by Hopwood.

United's first chance of the second half came in the 54th minute when Jake Bewley's short throw in on the left found N'Somi who held the ball up before sending a short low through ball to the on-running Bewley on the left, whose deep cross from by the corner flag found the unmarked Harry Jones at the far post whose header from 8 yards was tipped over the bar by Bunn for a corner.

Halesowen made a double change in the 56th minute when Luke Yates came on to replace Andrew Parsons and Simeon Colbourne came on to replace Gibson.

A chance came Town's way just 30 seconds later (still in the 56th minute) when Hawker's left foot free kick from the right found the unmarked McCone, who sent his header from 4 yards at the far post way over the bar when perhaps he might have done better.

Another chance came the hosts' way in the 60th minute when Robbie Bunn ran forward from the front edge of the centre circle in his own half before sending a dinked through ball down the middle to Colbourne, whose attempted shot under challenge from Jenkins was blocked in the middle of the D amid appeals for a possible handball by Jenkins. Bewley's toed half clearance saw the ball run out to the in-running Ali 30 yards out whose first time low diagonal ball found Molyneux in space inside the right middle of the box, who took a touch onto his right foot before firing his right foot shot from 10 yards high and wide of Hopwood's left hand angle.

Then in the 63rd minute, Osbourne's low diagonal ball from right of middle deep in his own half found Jones who took a touch and 2 or 3 more touches, turned and ran forward inside the Aylesbury half to the left of the centre circle before sending a low through ball to Deacon in space. He ran on before having his attempted shot from 12 yards blocked by keeper Bunn and as the ball rebounded to Deacon, he was brought down in the box by Parsons. Redditch referee Richard Walker said penalty and after the fuss had died down, Feyi stepped up to calmly send the resulting spot kick into Bunn's left hand corner with the keeper going the other way to pull a goal back for United in the 64th minute. 1-3

Halesowen went close to adding to their lead in the 74th minute when diagonal low through ball found the on-running Yates in spaces on the right who ran on before crossing to Colbourne, who made no proper contact from 8 yards out and the ball deflected off Hopwood across goal and eventually out for a corner.

United made their only available change in the 77th minute when Hutchinson came on to replace N'Somi.

The visitors went close just into the 80th minute when Seaton's low through ball down the left found Deacon who took a touch before firing his right foot shot from 20 yards straight at Bunn at his right hand post.

Town made their final change deep into the 85th minute when Jordan Piggott came on to replace Hawker.

It was 4-1 deep into the 87th minute when a short low ball through the middle found Bunn who ran forward through the middle before sending a low diagonal through ball to the on-running Yates on the right. He ran on towards the byeline before pulling the ball back low for Bunn who slid in to fire his left foot shot from 6 yards into Hopwood's right hand corner. 4-1 Halesowen

The last chance of the afternoon came Halesowen's way just before the end of the 2nd minute of added time at the end when Ali ran forward through the middle before firing his low left foot shot from 25 yards wide of Hopwood's left hand post.

Then with the 4th Official having indicated a minimum of 3 minutes added to be played, the final blast of referee Walker's whistle after an eventual total of 3 minutes and 5 seconds of added time confirmed United's defeat.