Dave Larham heaped praise on kicker James Woodfall for ‘making the difference’ as Aylesbury maintained their fine start to the season with a win at Drifters on Saturday.
Woodfall converted both of Aylesbury’s tries and kicked another three penalties to help his side to their fourth straight win in what was their first away game of the season.
The victory saw Larham’s men keep up the pace near the top of the Southern Counties North League as they sit just three points off leaders Milton Keynes.
At Drifters it was a hard slog for the Ducks and Larham admitted his team had to do the dirty side of the game to grind out a victory.
“Sometimes we have to win ugly and dig deep against competitive opposition,” Larham said.
“We expected a tough game and certainly got one.
“We demonstrated the character needed to dog out a win when at times we were second best.
“Man of the match James Woodfall was our match winner through kicking goals and keeping us in front.
“In the end, it was his kicking that was the difference between the two teams.”
The game kicked off in dry and bright conditions with hardly a breath of wind, almost perfect conditions for the kickers, something that was to prove crucial to the outcome of this game.
Drifters started strongly and quickly put Ay’s under pressure in their own half.
An infringement at the breakdown by Ay’s gave Drifters an easy penalty in front of the posts to give them the early three-point lead.
But from the restart, Drifters gave away a penalty within kickable range which Woodfall slotted with ease to level the scores at 3-3.
Ay’s then took the lead through a close range try from prop Andy Hackett.
With Woodfall’s conversion on target to add the extra 2 points. With no further scores in the first half Ay’s went into the break with a 7 point lead at 3-10.
The second half saw Ay’s captain Gary Horne cross the Drifters try line and another successful conversion from James Woodfall to put Ay’s 3-17 up.
Ay’s were not going to have it all their own way however, as Drifters fought back with a try of their own, but as the touch line conversion was wide the score remained 8-17.
Another penalty kick from Woodfall put Ay’s further ahead at 8-20.
But Drifters were not going to allow Ay’s to relax as they ran in another try but once again their kicker was off target with the conversion.
However, Ay’s then gave away another penalty and this time the Drifters kicker made no mistake and narrowed the scores to 16-20 to set up a nail biting final quarter.
But once again it was the reliable boot of Woodfall which relieved the pressure for the Ducks as he kicked another successful penalty to nudge Ay’s further at 16-23.
As the game entered the final minutes Ay’s found themselves a man short as flanker Rob Taylor was sent to the sin bin.
But Ay’s held on to hold off a strong Drifters side to clinch their fourth consecutive league victory.
The club travel to Bletchley in the cup next Saturday.