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Match Report



Match report by Ian Pluck

As so often this season, manager Ben Williams had a weakened squad to choose from, with first team regulars Max Hercules, Ben Seaton, Ollie Hogg, Dave O’Connor and Lee Stobbs all unavailable due to injury. On the positive side, he was able to give Anthony Ball his first start after recovering from his ankle injury in September, lining up on the right flank, in place of Jaedon Phillips, who took a seat on the bench to start the game.

The hosts, on a good run of form which sees them 3rd in the table were at full strength, with ex Duck Jefferson Louis leading the attack alongside the prolific Conor McDonagh, who had scored 7 goals in his last 3 games since arriving on loan from Southern Premier side Swindon Supermarine.

It was the hosts who started stronger, a ball down the right wing found McDonagh clear of the defence. He pulled the ball back to the far post where Amer Awadh met the ball on the volley, which was bound for the top corner before Archie Davis pulled off a fantastic save at the expense of a corner.

Davis was called into action shortly afterwards, this time a corner from Awadh was met by Ben Brown, but again the Ducks stopper was a match for his effort, tipping the ball over the bar.

On the quarter hour, Ball broke down the right outpacing Chris Francis, but his pull back into the penalty area evaded the Ducks attackers and was cleared to safety.

The opening goal arrived in the 21st minute. A throw in from the right was collected and crossed by Scott Isherwood, where Louis was on hand to knock the ball down to Brown, who this time gave Davis no chance as he slammed the ball into the net from close range. 1-0 North Leigh

Awadh was proving to be a threat as the half developed, beating Ball in a tackle on the left and driving past Jones, but was disappointed to see his shot directed straight at Davis who made a comfortable save.

Ten minutes before the break the Ducks had a good chance to equalise. Jones did well to win the ball and played the ball towards Gavin James in the right channel, he collected the ball well and placed his shot past the onrushing Adam North, but his effort rolled just wide of the far post. Two minutes later, Louis found McDonagh with a flicked header, but he was forced wide and his cross cum shot from a narrow angle flashed across the face of goal.

Half-time: North Leigh 1-0 Aylesbury

Into the second half and the first chance fell to McDonagh; a throw in from Francis found the striker on the edge of the box, who twisted a turned to make himself a yard of space, but his effort was touched over by Davis, who was having a good game.

The game turned in the space of 11 minutes half way through the half, as the hosts scored three goals. The first, just past the hour saw a ball down the right collected by McDonagh, who crossed from the byeline into the 6 yard box, where substitute Lance Williams calmly slotted home. 2-0 North Leigh

Three minutes later a free kick from Roger James found McDonagh on the edge of the penalty area, he showed great strength to hold off Jack Wood and laid it back into the path of Francis, who slammed the ball into the roof of the net from 20 yards. 3-0 North Leigh

On 70 minutes the result was put beyond doubt; a ball threaded through the defence was collected by McDonagh, who rounded Davis and tapped the ball home. 4-0 North Leigh

To the credit of the team, they didn’t lie down, and kept fighting to gain something out of the game. With the game into stoppage time, a Jake Bewley corner was headed goalwards and cleared off the line; it fell to Jaedon Phillips, who was taken down by North, conceding a penalty. A rather unnecessary and unseemly fracas erupted after the award of the penalty, with Williams and Phillips both seeing a yellow card. When the fuss had died down, Bewley stepped up on his 300th appearance to bury the ball into the corner. 1-4

From the restart, the ball was pumped forward where James was clattered from behind by Brown, not the first such challenge of the day that went unpunished by referee Neil Pratt. As James lay prostrate on the ground, the ball fell to Phillips, who calmly lobbed North as he rushed from his goal. 2-4

James required prolonged treatment for his injury and was to play no further part in the game, which was ended a few minutes later by the referee. Two goals late in the game put a more respectable appearance to the scoreline, but it was probably a more accurate reflection of the game. Worryingly there appeared to be more knocks incurred by players, so no doubt a health check will be needed before a squad for next week’s home match against bottom of the league Wantage visit The Meadow.