Aylesbury Hockey Club’s men and ladies’ teams came out on opposite sides of five-goal thrillers in their latest matches.
It was the sweet taste of victory for the men as they edged out Eastcote 3-2.
From the off Aylesbury were under pressure. Steve Best pulled off a number of saves on the few times the defence allowed Eastcote to impregnate the D. This lasted for 15 minutes in which time the forwards rarely got close to the ball. At speed the ball broke the high defensive line of Eastcote and was gone. Hunter, Gregory and Usherwood who until this point had been chasing shadows launched forward. The ball reached Ebsworth in the D who composed himself and sent a blistering shot passed the goalie, only to see it cannon back off the post. The rebound however came straight back to him and with great poise and calmness Ebsworth rounded the keeper and pushed it calmly over the line. 1-0. To say that Eastcote looked miffed would be an understatement.
Aylesbury with increased confidence started to impose themselves. Alex Furness down the right and Graham Thwaites down the left provided width and the rotating forward line of Dave How, Dan Best, Chris McIntyre and James Penson put in the leg work. The midfield supported and Ays created a few half chances if their own, but Eastcote remained in the game. With just a few minutes remaining of the half Eastcote attacked down the right. The Eastcote forward drilled a hard low shot-cum-cross towards the near post. Best dived in an attempt to repel the ball but could only turn the ball in.
After the break Aylesbury came out battling but one rash tackle resulted in a penalty corner to Eastcote who executed to great effect and left Best with no chance in goal to put the Ducks behind for the first time in the game.
The game continued to be and end-to-end affair with Eastcote winning several more corners and Ays threatening on the break with Ebsworth. Then came the pivotal moment. Usherwood played a hopeful ball forward looking for the lead of How who clattered into keeper busting his knee in the process. The keeper to his credit played on. From the resulting liong corner Chandler looked up and decided to smash it into the D. How posted up towards him laid down his stick and the ball flew up into the top corner to bring the score back on level terms.
Eastcote were shaken, and soon after a yellow card followed. Aylesbury had a chance to make their numerical advantage count and take all the points and with 5 minutes to go Aylesbury won a penalty corner of their own. The ball found Usherwood who slipped the ball back inside to Man-of-the-Match Hunter who connected putting the ball past the hobbling goal keeper to put victory in sight.
Eastcote were now chasing the game but in doing so left gaps to exploit at the back. Thwaites had one great opportunity and a penalty shout was turned down and it remained 3-2. Aylesbury showed a lot of quality, grit and desire and will be hoping to take this into next weeks game away at Ashford.
Meanwhile, there was the sour taste of a narrow 3-2 defeat for the ladies who had an early start against tough opponents South Bucks.
The ladies were unlucky to come out the wrong side of their as they started off looking sharp, created some chances but crucially failed to convert. They were made to pay midway through the first half when South Bucks made it 1-0.
Despite conceding, Aylesbury continued to attack the South Bucks defence and came close on several occasions before South Bucks again grabbed a goal against the run of play on half-time.
From the restart, Aylesbury were determined to score an early goal to put pressure on South Bucks. Striker Lucy Potts saw her shot helped over the line by her another Lucy, Drane, to make the score 2-1, lifting the spirits of the players and home supporters on the sideline.
But, South Bucks reacted well to the goal, and minutes later were awarded a controversial penalty flick which despite the best efforts of the out-stretched goalkeeper Jade Hedger, found the bottom corner - making the score 3-1 with 15 minutes to play.
Becs O’Neill hit a post before Elisa Woodford ensured a tense finale when she received the ball in the D and flicked it past the South Bucks keeper.
With six minutes left on the clock, Aylesbury continued to put pressure on South Bucks , but the experienced opposition held strong to prevent Aylesbury from scoring the equaliser.
This Saturday Aylesbury ladies take on Maidenhead thirds on home soil when they will hop to rekindle their winning form.