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Moneyfields win 4-3 on penalty kicks

After a quite extraordinary end to this game, Aylesbury United bid farewell to the FA Cup for another season as they eventually lost a penalty shootout 4-3 to Portsmouth-based Moneyfields FC.

United’s record from the spot has been unconvincing at best over the last five years or more, and it was a hoodoo that cost them on a night when the Ducks were unable to capitalise on earning three penalties in regular time by failing to convert two of them.

By contrast, the first half was a relatively quiet affair with neither team able to claim true dominance and neither keeper fully tested, as it finished goalless.

Aylesbury started strongly with Max Hercules a constant threat down the left, but it was Sonny French who created the first real opening, on five minutes, when he collected a loose ball on the edge of the box, saw his shot blocked but then had the presence of mind to pick out Ty Deacon with the rebound who had time to turn and should have done better than slotting a shot wide.

Hercules continued to be United’s main catalyst and in typical fashion a pacey break down the left saw him nutmeg a defender before cutting inside and placing a shot just wide.

As the game went by though, Moneyfields found ways to contain the young winger which coincided with their own attacking influence growing; their first flowing move of the game coming after 26 minutes although it only ended with a tame effort from Alex Lafleur straight at James Weatherill – who retained his place in goal despite the return after suspension of Jack Hopwood.

Three minutes later the experienced Steve Hutchings retrieved a misplaced cross beyond the far post to cut the ball back for Tom Dinsmore, but his shot was also straight at Weatherill.

After scoring in both of Aylesbury’s opening games, Ollie Hogg was in confident mood and fancied his chances whenever the ball came to him - but his finishing didn’t match the ‘worldie’ from the Corby town on this game as he placed one wide, and one high and wide within sixty seconds after good link up with Sonny French on the half hour mark.

A cheap free kick gave Moneyfields a dangerous opportunity ten minutes from half time and up stepped captain and centre back Sam Pearce whose effort deflected off the wall and spun just past the post with Weatherill helpless.

The half then ended as it started – with a good chance for Deacon – as a corner kick dropped to him in the box but Jake Hallett stood firm and made a good save with his legs from close range.

Half-time: Aylesbury 0-0 Moneyfields

Within a minute of the restart it was Weatherill’s turn for action, as he did well to smother a shot from George Barker after Hutchings had cleverly helped the ball on.

The Ducks then suffered a blow when Hercules limped out of the game injured, to be replaced by Jamie Rudd who made his first appearance for the club since December 2019.

He was quickly involved in feeding the overlapping Jake Bewley who whipped in a peach of a cross that Deacon flicked wide across goal. The ball was retrieved and played back to Sonny French whose low shot was turned wide by Hallett.

Disaster then struck for the Ducks, when former Chalfont defender Alex Lafleur was clipped in the box for a clear-cut penalty, which Hutchings stepped up and convincingly rifled home. 1-0 Moneyfields

The lead lasted barely five minutes before Aylesbury were handed a lifeline. Curtis Da Costa made a hash of heading back to Hallett, allowing the alert Lee Stobbs to nip in and guide a lob over the stranded keeper for his first goal for the club since his summer move from Berkhamsted. 1-1

At 1-1 – both gifts - the game was nicely poised for a big finish, and though nobody would have predicted the drama to come the entertainment kept coming as dominant Moneyfields created a number of chances – the best of which saw Joe Briggs head weakly at Weatherill from close range.

The goal that had been threatened duly arrived when, at a corner kick, Hutchings was afforded too much time to turn and shoot and beat the unfortunate Weatherill with a shot that took a deflection. 2-1 Moneyfields

Aylesbury responded immediately with the introduction of extra attacking reinforcements in Juwon Akintunde, and as the minutes ticked by began to slowly force their way further into Moneyfields’ half.

Their efforts had seemingly paid off on 79 minutes when the dynamic duo of Hogg and French combined again with the latter’s shot blocked by a hand in the area with the referee pointing straight to the spot. Ty Deacon took responsibility but saw his effort thwarted by Hallett, to audible groans of frustration around the ground.

On another night that might have been curtains for Aylesbury, but this side are full of character and kept at their task, and were rewarded with another penalty when the assistant referee flagged for a foul in the box. This time up stepped Ollie Hogg and blasted home an unstoppable kick to bring the game level again. 2-2

Almost unbelievably, Aylesbury were then given a THIRD penalty of the night just three minutes later as a goalkeeping error lead to both Akintunde and French being taken out in the box. Hogg was once again the man on the ball, but, despite his perfect effort moments earlier, incredibly managed to sky the ball way out of the stadium!

There was still time to find a winner as a through ball set Akintunde in on goal, but with the angle narrowing and on his weaker foot he could only slam into the side netting, and Moneyfields were off the hook. Again.

Full time: Aylesbury 2-2 Moneyfields

And so the game went to a penalty shootout, and given their lack of success already in the game few inside the ground rated Aylesbury’s chances of making it through.

United not scoring their first two kicks – Sonny French saved, Jake Bewley missed – suggested a very quick penalty shootout indeed as Steve Hutchings and George Barker both scored, but then Ty Deacon got the Ducks off the mark before Conor Bailey missed his to make it 1-2 in the shootout with three taken.

Juwon Akintunde – who had been asking to take the penalties all night – might now earn that right as he converted his with aplomb, before Weatherill saved from Sam Pearce to level the score at 2-2.

Ollie Hogg thankfully hit a penalty more reminiscent of his first than the second of the night, before substitute Conor Hoare also scored to keep it level at 3-3, before both next takers saw their efforts saved – Lee Stobbs and Jake Raine.

Next up was Mark Riddick – taker number 7 – whose penalty was not convincing and Hallett saved giving Joe Briggs the opportunity to win the shootout – which he calmly took to send his jubilant team into the 2nd Qualifying Round, where we wish them well.

A tough night for Aylesbury who now have a week off to reflect before entertaining Wantage Town back in league action on Wednesday 30th September.