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Match Report

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Anthony Ball’s sensational goal on his return after four-months injured would ordinarily have been the main headline on a freezing cold Chesham night, but an enthralling game of football meant that was pushed down the list of talking points.

Two teams harbouring quiet hopes of playoff qualification served up a thoroughly entertaining, and at times, crazy match with in-form Welwyn ultimately getting the better of out-of-form Aylesbury courtesy of a 94th minute winner.

It was harsh on United who put in their best performance of recent weeks, and were well deserving of what looked like a point at 3-3 before the late drama.

Welwyn almost made the perfect start to proceedings when, in the very first minute, Matty Campbell-Mhlope’s long ranger beat Archie Davis all ends up but rebounded off the underside of the crossbar and away.

It was something of a false dawn for the visitors, with their hosts soon well on top – forcing a number of early corners from one of which Jaedon Phillips flicked a header just wide and when it was half cleared Gavin James volleyed goalwards but wide.

David Ozobia then jinked past a couple of challenges before firing in a shot which drew the first save of the night from Charlie Crowley who turned the ball past the post.

The opener arrived on 17 minutes in spectacular fashion – Jaedon Phillips getting his Aylesbury account up and running. Receiving the ball wide he took it to the edge of the box before bending a stunning left footed shot into the top corner that looked in from the moment it left his boot. 1-0 Aylesbury

Welwyn tried to respond through George Ironton’s curling effort, but it was over the bar. They came again just before the half hour mark when a cross floated in from the right eventually fell to Campbell-Mhlope whose effort was well blocked by Jack Wood.

With the visitors then restricted to long shots it was United who had the best chance to score before the break. A quick move saw James flick the ball on to Phillips whose low square ball across the goal was just inches too far in front of Sonny French who could only toe-end it wide, as a very satisfactory half for the Ducks came to an end.

Half-time: Aylesbury 1-0 Welwyn

That satisfactory first half soon went out the window, with the Citizens back on level terms with barely 60-seconds on the second half clock. A low ball into the box saw Davis only able to parry the ball into the danger area, where a combination of bodies resulted in the ball ricocheting into the net. Scorer to be confirmed, possible own goal. 1-1

Three minutes later and a nasty collision between Davis and Wood as they defended their lines ended with the skipper coming off worse, as he became the second Ducks injury concern of the night after Mark Riddick had been treated in the first half. After a lengthy stoppage, Wood was able to complete the game, albeit gingerly.

There was then a good chance for a second United goal when Sonny French ran around Ryan Doherty before playing in Phillips who in turn found James but Crowley was quickly to him to smother the ball before he could get a shot away.

When Ollie Hogg became the third injury victim of the night his game was over, with Anthony Ball coming on for his first game since September after his own injury, and he made an instant impact.

Helping break up a Welwyn attack deep in his own half, he then ran fully 60-yards to take a forward pass, then kept his composure to slot the ball confidently past Crowley like he’d never been away, to the joy of the home faithful. 2-1 Aylesbury

The goal – on 58 minutes - sparked a crazy period of play that saw four goals – two for each side - in six minutes.

On the hour mark City were level again, through Jon Clements, who used his strength to bustle his way through the Aylesbury defence and slot home, virtually straight from the restart. 2-2

Clements was at it again after another 90 seconds, with their best move of the night some slick interplay saw his near post run picked out by Jordan Watson and the big striker buried his finish to give Welwyn the lead for the first time. 3-2 Welwyn

Not to be outdone, Aylesbury then scored again to end the spree – on 64 minutes. It was something of a goal out of nothing, as Mark Riddick seized on a dropping ball to send a screaming volley into the net with Crowley left grasping at thin air. 3-3

With both sides having had a breather, good strength and a pass from James put Sonny French momentarily clean through on 71 minutes but some fine recovery defending by Jay Rolfe snuffed out the danger.

The two teams continued to press for a winner with Watson heading over a right wing cross which came to him too quickly, and Gavin James denied a tap-in by some last ditch defending after good work by Ball and Phillips down the right.

Things looked set for a seemingly fair 3-3 draw, but Campbell-Mhlope – fresh from scoring a brace on New Year’s Day – had other ideas. Racing onto a long ball downfield, he calmly took a touch before firing home across Davis to claim all three points for his side. 4-3 Welwyn

Aylesbury tried to pressure the visitors’ box one last time, but with the goal coming already in the 94th minute there was to be no comeback again and the win went the way of Welwyn.