Looking to arrest a run of defeats, Manager Ben Williams had two unwanted headaches this week; firstly, not being able to attend the game himself after testing positive for Covid, but more crucially the departure of Max Hercules to Banbury United. Ben Seaton made his first start after injury in Hercules’ left-wing berth, with other changes to the team seeing Jack Wood move to right back to cover for the unavailable Anthony Ball and Ollie Hogg also making a first start after injury, with Dave O’Connor reverting to a more familiar central defensive position alongside Jordan Jenkins.
Playing against an inform Ware, who had scored 18 goals in 6 games since the turn of the year, the Ducks set up to contain the hosts, allowing them possession and attempting to deny them goal scoring opportunities. The strategy worked well initially, but was almost found out after 6 minutes when a low cross from the right from Marcus Milner was met on the volley by Liam Hope, but his shot hit the post and was cleared to safety.
If that was a warning sign, it wasn’t heeded, as the hosts took the lead in the 10th minute; a patient passing move opened up space for Robbie Buchanan on the left to cross into the 6-yard box, where an unmarked Leigh Rose placed his header beyond Archie Davis 1-0 Ware
Two minutes later and the score was doubled, as this time Milner crossed from the right where Hope this time found himself unmarked to copy the effort of his skipper. 2-0 Ware
The wait for the next goal was not a long one, as the next attack saw the ball sprayed out to the right, where Josh Williams collected well and turned Jake Bewley, before cutting infield and curling a delightful left foot effort from 25 yards out of the reach of Davis. 3-0 Ware
Buchanan did well to beat Mark Riddick on the left and get to the bye line, before pulling the ball back to Rose on the edge of the penalty area. He laid the ball into the path of Bruno whose shot from 25 yards was well saved by Davis.
The first opportunity for the Ducks finally came in the 28th minute, when a free kick from Hogg was collected by Seaton. His shot from 15 yards was blocked, but fell to O’Connor 12 yards out, but his shot crashed off the cross bar.
Half-time: Ware 3-0 Aylesbury
The wise words of coached Paul Batchelor and Mike Hogg at the half time break appeared to have an impact, as the Ducks came out with renewed energy and vigour. Straight from the off Bewley found Hogg who flicked the ball into the path of Tyrone Lewthwaite who outpaced Dave Kendall but fired his shot across goal and wide of the far post.
Soon after, a deep cross from Seaton found Wood at the far post who headed down into the path of Hogg, whose shot was blocked at point blank range by a combination of Robinson and Chris Arthur, who appeared to suffer an injury as a result of his bravery.
Just past the hour and probably the most clear-cut chance fell the way of Lewthwaite; Hogg chipped a free kick in to O’Connor, who headed to the striker who was unmarked 6 yards out, but his header was over the bar when it seemed easier to score.
With 15 minutes remaining, any hopes that the Ducks might have had of getting back into the game were extinguished by a controversial penalty award by referee Derryl David. Appeals for a penalty for a foul were waved away by the man in the middle, only for him to quickly change his mind and award the spot kick, as O’Connor was adjudged to have handled the ball as he fell in the 6-yard box. Hope stepped up to send Davis the wrong way and extend the lead further. 4-0 Ware
Shortly afterwards the hosts were reduced to 10 men as skipper Rose injured himself attempting to tackle Ducks substitute David Ozobia. The injury was severe enough to force him from the field and with the Blues having already made all 3 substitutions, they were forced to play the remainder of the match a man short.
Perhaps encouraged by this, the Ducks did finally get on the scoresheet after 82 minutes. A good passing move involving Ozobia, Wood and Jones saw Lewthwaite get beyond the defensive line and round Robinson, before calmly stroking the ball into the net. 1-4
Just a minute later a header from Riddick set Lewthwaite through on goal, but this time Robinson did well to block his effort; the ball fell to substitute Ezra Anthonio-Forde, but he couldn’t force the ball home either. However, he did get on the scoresheet as the clock ticked into added on time; a throw in on the left saw the striker exchange passes with Ozobia, before firing a shot into the roof of the net from 12 yards. 2-4
Incredibly the Ducks almost added a third two minutes into added on time; Lewthwaite found Riddick just inside the penalty area, who appeared to be fouled as he shot. With the referee playing advantage, the ball fell to Jamie Rudd, on as a replacement for Jones but his effort was high over the bar.
The final nail in today’s coffin was hammered home by home substitute Taufee Skandari. He collected the ball on the left and worked his way along the 18-yard line, before hitting a shot which crashed down off the bar. The ball fell back to him and this time his shot was marginally lower, hitting the underside of the bar from 15 yards before bouncing over the line. 5-2 Ware
In truth, the Ducks didn’t deserve to concede the final goal, having battled well after a poor first 20 minutes. It was encouraging to see the second half performance, which shows signs of promise and should offer confidence to the team as they look ahead to the next match at St Neots on Saturday.
St. Neots Town
Welwyn Garden City