United seal scrappy 1-0 win over Chertsey to ensure year ends on a winning note.
Prior to this game, the Ducks had the third worst home record in the Calor League Central, with only one win at Bell Close all season – aside from landlords Leighton “away”.
Chertsey, for their part, had claimed just one point away from home, losing nine of their ten away games. Combine these unimpressive statistics with a sticky, well-worn pitch hosting its second game in three days, and the likelihood was always going to be that this meeting would fall someway short of ‘classic’ status. So it proved, as Aylesbury ground out a narrow 1-0 victory that nobody watching is likely to remember beyond the end of 2013.
Tony Joyce made just one change from United’s last game, the 2-1 win at Ashford Town a fortnight earlier, and it was a forced one, with in-form striker Jason Blackett suspended and replaced in the starting line-up by veteran Paul Edgeworth.
Aylesbury were slow out of the blocks, and the visitors were little better, with the only attempt on goal in the first ten minutes a wayward 25-yard effort from Town’s Tom Betts. The Ducks survived a scare in the 11th minute however, as the wrong-footed Alex Tokarczyk was only able to parry a long-range effort from David Johnston into the path of visiting striker John Pomroy, who netted – but was flagged offside.
This seemed to briefly spark United into life, as they had two chances inside a minute. Firstly, Daniel Jones set up Stacey Field whose curling shot was comfortably plucked out of the air by Gary Aulsberry, then seconds later a terrific inswinging cross from the left by Field was misdirected wide by strike partner Edgeworth. Unfortunately, this would be as close as the Ducks would come for the best part of half an hour.
On 32 minutes, Tokarczyk was forced into what would turn out to be his only save of the day, diving low to his right to deny Sam Baffour. Aylesbury began to press late in the half, as Field’s powerful effort was only prevented from reaching the top corner by a tremendous tip over the bar from Aulsberry. From the resulting Liam Smyth corner kick, Jack Wood came close to opening the scoring but directed his header wide. Tame efforts from Steve Hatch for Aylesbury and Pomroy for Chertsey saw out a poor first half which had done little to warm up the crowd.
The first fifteen minutes of second half were to follow a similar pattern, with both sides lacking any real cohesion on an increasingly difficult pitch. The first sight of goal came 13 minutes into the half as an Aylesbury break saw Jones play in Field, who loomed in on the visited goal only to be denied by a last ditch tackle.
With just over an hour played, the Ducks were finally able to break the deadlock. A good long-range Keith Williams effort following a half-cleared set piece gave Aulsberry all sorts of problems, and the visiting keeper was only able to palm the ball into the path of Hatch, who powered home for his second goal of the season.
For much of the remainder, United seemed content to cede possession and territory to Chertsey as the visitors fruitlessly chased the game. A shot from 25 yards from Pomroy flew into the “Buttles End”, before substitute Danny Sharp cut inside from his right wing position and hit a low strike wide. Another late strike from Pomroy was also dragged wide, but despite their pressure Chertsey were unable to break down a solid Ducks backline or force Tokarczyk into action.
Indeed, the introduction of Joey Acheampong in place of Edgeworth alongside Field had increased Aylesbury’s counter attacking threat considerably. One such break, from a Chertsey free kick, saw Field race away before crossing to Acheampong, who shot wide on the half-volley when he perhaps should have done better. Shortly afterwards, another substitute, Dom Petrucci, played a through ball to Field, who attempted one of his patented lobs, but couldn’t quite raise the ball over Aulsberry. Yet another counter saw Acheampong this time breaking away with the ball at his feet, and his cross found Field who miscued his header.
Deep into stoppage time, Pomroy dragged a shot wide for Chertsey once again, before referee Mr Kinnear produced his only yellow card of the game, booking Tokarcyzk for taking too long at a goal kick.
On the stroke of 5pm, much to the relief of the Ducks fans, the final whistle was blown, and Aylesbury could reflect on another important three points to end a hugely successful 2013.
Tony Joyce’s side entertain Beaconsfield SYCOB on New Year’s Day (3pm).