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Match Report

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Match report by Ian Pluck

After a long wait since the last match before the shutdown of football last season, the Ducks finally kicked off their competitive season with an FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round tie at home to Hellenic League Premier Division opposition, Fairford Town. This was the first time the two clubs have met and it promised to be a competitive affair, especially with the Ducks missing key players from the line up. Having said that, Ben Williams was able to name a familiar squad for the game, with just the returning Aaron Berry new for this season, showing the strength in depth of the squad that has been assembled.

The Ducks started well, Berry winning a tackle 25 yards out from goal and feeding Jamie Jellis on his inside. Unfortunately though, the youngster’s shot from 20 yards flew wide of goal.

Just a minute later, some sharp footwork and ball control saw Sonny French go clear of his defender only to be fouled by a desperate tackle by Callum Preece 2 yards outside the penalty area. Max Hercules and Jellis stood over the ball, but instead of shooting on goal, Hercules laid the ball into the path of his team mate, but just overhit the pass and the shot was blocked.

The game settled down after that, with a midfield battle ensuing; it was very much a stop start affair with niggly fouls halting any momentum.

On 22 minutes, Hercules, who was having a good battle with Preece, cut inside his marker and shot goalwards from 25 yards, only to see keeper Sam Ayres stick out a hand and parry the ball over the bar when it looked destined for the top corner.

Five minutes later and Preece fouled Hercules, not for the first time as he struggled to defend against the tricky winger and saw the referee pull out the yellow card, presumably for a ‘totting up’ of previous offences as much as anything. This time, Hercules took the initiative and fired the free kick at goal, only to see Ayres make a good save, again at the expense of a corner.

With home supporters wondering if they would see a breakthrough that their team’s dominance deserved, a goal arrived six minutes before half time. Lee Stobbs picked the ball up wide on the right and fired in a low cross which was missed by Berry and visiting skipper Robbie James, but Jellis lurking unmarked behind them controlled it well on his chest before firing a volley into the roof of the net from 12 yards. In truth, it was no more than the Ducks deserved, James Weatherill at the other end had been barely troubled by the visiting attack. 1-0 Aylesbury

However, Fairford had a great opportunity to equalise with their first real attempt on goal in the 41st minute. Weatherill failed to deal effectively with a cross in a crowded penalty area, seeing his punch land at the feet of Dan Bailey 20 yards out; unfortunately for the visitors, his shot was wide of the right hand upright with Weatherill scrambling to get back on his line.

The last chance of the half fell to the Ducks, as Ayres came rushing out from his goal to clear a through ball, only to see his clearance ricochet to Stobbs 40 yards from goal. The winger tried his luck, but saw his shot narrowly clear the crossbar as the keeper scrambled back.

Half-time: Aylesbury 1-0 Fairford

Seven minutes into the second half and Berry was forced to leave the field with a leg injury, substituted by Harry Jones. Just before the hour, the best move of the game saw the ball moved swiftly through the pitch by a combination of Anthony Ball, Jellis and Sonny French, before it found Hercules. He cut inside onto his right foot and shot from just outside the penalty area, but his effort cleared the crossbar.

Five minutes later, Hercules took an inswinging corner from the right to find Mark Riddick unmarked 12 yards out; his powerful downwards header was blocked by a defender on the goal line before rebounding to Liam McCrohan, who saw his shot saved at point blank range by Ayres.

On 73 minutes, the second gaol and comfortable cushion that the home fans were craving arrived. A poor pass out from the back forced an error and Jones collected the ball before sidestepping James and firing home into the bottom corner from 18 yards. 2-0 Aylesbury

Going two goals behind stirred the visitors into attacking intent, with a change of shape to playing two up front against the dominant Ducks defence. A free kick taken by substitute Christian Turner-Williams was met by skipper James, but he could only direct his header over the bar.

With 9 minutes remaining on the clock, a free kick was conceded 40 yards out in a central position; Turner-Williams stepped up again, this time choosing to go for goal, but his shot was ambitious to say the least and was comfortably claimed by Weatherill.

With five minutes remaining, Dave O’Connor was forced to leave the field after turning his ankle, to be replaced by the popular Kuda Sangoya, making his competitive debut for the club and slotting in at left back with Jake Bewley filling in at centre back.

The next attack saw Jellis go close to notching his second of the match; Riddick headed the ball on to Jones, who flicked the ball into the path of Jellis on the left of the penalty area. Despite holding off a defender, he could only hit the side netting with his shot. The last action of the match saw James meet a corner with a powerful header, only to see Riddick well placed to clear off the line.

That was to be the end of the action, seeing the Ducks through with a comfortable victory, and awaiting the winners of the match between Brislington and Brimscombe & Thrupp, who drew their tie on Saturday. They replay on Tuesday evening to see who will visit The Meadow on the weekend of 21st August. Next up though is a league match at home to Didcot Town next Saturday.