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Match Report

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Match report by Ian Pluck

Another week, another weakened team, with Gavin James the latest to miss out through injury, after a concussion caused last week at North Leigh. Sonny French was also unavailable for the game, however Dave O’Connor was welcomed back into the starting XI, alongside new signing Alexandru Dubniuc who lined up in midfield. The second new arrival this week, Emmanuel Adebiyi took a place on the substitute’s bench.

With the players available to him, Ben Williams chose to set up in an unfamiliar 3-5-2 formation, with Jake Bewley wide on the left, Anthony Ball on the right, and Jaedon Phillips recalled to partner Ezra Anthonio-Forde as a dual spearhead up top.

Starting on the front foot, looking to exploit any uncertainty against the team who started the day at the foot of the table, the Ducks came close to taking an early lead. Dubniuc flicked a ball into the path of Anthonio-Forde, who advanced into the penalty area, but his shot flashed across the face of goal.

Shortly afterwards David Ozobia won the ball in midfield and played a fine cross field ball to Anthony Ball on the right. His searching cross was punched out by James Foster in the visitor’s goal, but only as far as Dubniuc on the edge of the area, whose goal bound shot was deflected for a corner by Jack Alexander.

Having the majority of the possession, but finding the opposition resolute and determined in defence, the Ducks consistently failed to find the quality to make their pressure pay. Dubniuc sprayed the ball wide to Jaedon Phillips on the left, who did well to cut inside Kyle Bestley, but his shot again lacked purpose, Foster making a comfortable save.

Ozobia was prominent in the middle of the park, winning a lot of tackles and using the ball well; he found Phillips half way inside the Wantage half who linked well with Anthonio-Forde, but as he shaped to shoot he was closed down by Alexander, firing well over the bar.

The first real chance for the opposition came 10 minutes before the break; James Hammond won the ball and passed to Alex Henshall wide on the right; he got to the bye line and fired in a dangerous cross to the near post, which O’Connor did well to clear ahead of the lurking Tony Logongo.

Soon after Anthonio-Forde had another great opportunity to open the scoring. Good work by Phillips, staying strong in a challenge with Alexander, saw him protect the ball and spot his strike partner in space. However the centre forward’s first shot was well saved by Foster, with the rebound falling back to Anthonio-Forde at a tight angle, this time his attempt was more comfortably saved by the keeper.

Half-time: Aylesbury 0-0 Wantage

With the first half goal less, it was the visitors who started to be more adventurous in their play in the second period. After O’Connor was penalised for a handball 30 yards from goal, Henshall stepped up to take the free kick, but Archie Davis was well placed to catch the ball comfortably.

However, shortly afterwards a long ball over the defence saw Jamal Branker beat the offside trap and lob Davis from 35 yards to open the scoring, his second goal against the Ducks this season following a goal when he played for North Leigh at the Meadow earlier in the season. 1-0 Wantage

The Ducks had an opportunity to get back into the game straight away, as a fine through ball found Phillips clear on goal, but his shot from 25 yards was well saved by Foster.

Holding the lead, the visitors maintained their shape and continued to frustrate the Ducks, who lacked the guile and invention to force many clear-cut chances. A raft of substitutions saw Harry Jones, Emmanuel Adebiyi and Pierce McNamara all brought on as attacking options to try to change the flow of the game.

McNamara will feel slightly aggrieved, when a deep cross from Bewley on the left was heading towards him before Phillips stretched to reach the ball and volleyed over the ball when his colleague was probably better placed to capitalise on the chance.

The final chance of note came with 6 minutes remaining. A free kick 25 yards from goal was taken by Ozobia, but again Foster was the saviour, stretching well to palm the ball around the post for a corner.

A match that won’t last long in the memories of Ducks fans, they struggled to inject the energy and invention to break down a strong defensive show from Wantage whose victory was enough to lift them off the bottom of the league. Next up for the Ducks is the re-arranged match against Waltham Abbey at the Meadow on Wednesday evening, before a trip to the now bottom of the league Colney Heath on Saturday.