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3rd December '05
League Premier Division
C.Thompson, Sykes (Mansell 77), Griffiths, Tomkins, Davis,
Mustoe, Webb, Addis, Corbett (M.Thompson 68), Wilkinson.
Subs not used: Pritchett,
T-Ender Man of the Match: Neil
Griffiths: a series of crucial blocks and spread cover down the
left side when Sykes left gaps behind.
It was probably fair this
hard-fought match ended in a draw but neither side ever looked like
they had given up on this entertaining contest that saw both teams
enjoy periods of dominance and both grateful to their keepers for
some fine saves that kept the score down. Either side could easily
have snatched victory but neither could land the crucial blow and
neither really controlled the game for long enough to quite deserve
it. City will be frustrated not to have grabbed another home win
but will take comfort from extending our unbeaten run and finally
escaping from the bottom four for the first time since the opening
day of the season.
Last season Aylesbury destroyed City in both matches
home and away, beating us by three in both games with some considerable
ease. Times have changed though, and Aylesbury's financial cuts
have taken their toll, although even with those restrictions they
must be sorely disappointed to have been sucked into the relegation
scrap. They have drafted in several new players, including recent
signing John Lawford who scored a hatful of goals for Chesham United
last season. City also boasted a new signing, all be it a temporary
borrowed one, with former Forest Green player Alex
Sykes starting a month's loan spell from Bath City. He went
straight into the side on the left in place of Marvin Thompson who
dropped to the bench. The subs also featured City youth player Mark
Pritchett, called up to the first team squad for the first time.
|Top. Corbett - too quick to
Bottom: Aylesbury see off a City corner.
New loan signing Alex Sykes
made an immediate impression on the match and looked keen to get
back into action after missing the last three months with a groin
problem. The player is clearly a touch above what we've been used
to and he immediately lifted the spirits with a coupleo of jinking
runs that left Ducks right-back Matt Hayward floundering. On both
occasions Sykes did well to wrap his foot around the ball and get
dangerous crosses over but City couldn't convert them. Davis got
forward well to reach one only for his shot to zip wide, while the
second effort reached Addis whose vague flick never carried enough
menace to trouble the keeper.
The match was slowed down on the boggy Meadow Park pitch but Aylesbury
looked like a good attacking side and some of their crisp passing
suggested a team in a slightly false position in the table. The
Ducks also seem to give the City players a slight inferiority complex,
perhaps remembering last seasons matches when they comprehensively
wiped the floor with us. City still managed to create their own
chances but Aylesbury had more of the ball and really made the City
defence work hard for 20 minutes.
Aylesbury debutant John Lawford had a good chance when he escaped
from Tomkins but he dragged his shot wide from the edge of the box.
Another Aylesbury shot was beaten out by Matt Bath and Sykes got
back to clear the rebound, but we were having difficulty putting
our foot on the ball. Tomkins was forced to make a solid blocking
challenge soon after, and within a minute Matt Bath was back in
the action with another fine diving save to stop a low drive from
Greg Williams. The most threatening player was Ducks winger Neil
Lazarus who was causing Sykes huge problems in his defensive role.
It was Lazarus who came closest to giving Aylesbury the lead after
a good run across the by-line caused confusion in the City box and
Wilko cleared off the line before Matt Bath made a save with his
legs from close range to push the ball onto the post. Neil Lazarus
caught the eye with some dangerous probing runs for the visitors.
City did manage a few chances of their own, Wilkinson sending in
a looping header having stretched to meet a Corbett cross and Addis
seemed to have a case for a penalty after he was tripped trying
to turn on another Sykes cross. Sykes was getting forward well and
was still our main attacking outlet but he was also leaving huge
gaps behind him and we were looking weak down the left flank. Neil
Griffiths was doing a fantastic job getting back to fill the
gaps that were being left and with Mustoe frantically waving his
colleagues into position the City defence started to provide some
sterner resistance to the Aylesbury attack and we fought our way
back into the match. Sykes went on a strong driving run from the
half-way line and cut inside before piling everything into a oa
fierce drive from 30 yards out. It seemed destined for the top corner
but Jack Rashid was equal to it with a full-length save. The resulting
corner almost saw City take the lead after Wilko's flicked header
and Corbett almost scrambled the ball in from close range.
City were looking far more comfortable now and were
at least in the game, and with both teams trying to attack whenever
possible this was developing into a decent match. Tom
Webb emerged from midfield on a break-away and we had an extra
man over with Aylesbury's full-back caught up field. Unfortunately
Webb fed the ball through to Addis and the forward's ponderous decision
making gave the defenders time to get back and close things up.
City were looking a lot more confident after our recent wins and
our movement was much improved, but even so we were struggling to
break down the Aylesbury defence which looked well drilled. Both
teams were fully committed and there were some tasty tackles flying
in, Wilkinson particularly in the midst of it. City had one final
attempt when Corbett picked up an Addis ball but dragged his shot
wide, leaving both sides having to go in at half-time without a
goal to show for their efforts.
Aylesbury didn't have long to wait to get their goal. The second
half seemed to take a while to get going but it looked like it was
City who were doing most of the attacking with Sykes seeing another
dangerous cross cut out at the hear post and Addis showing good
persistence on the left but still couldn't quite get his shot away.
All of that just provided the platform for Aylesbury to hit us with
a quick counter-attack that cut through our defence. A long ball
from the back found the impressive Lazarus who drifted left before
sending over a good cross. Lawford knows how to finish off those
kind of chances and he timed his run to suddenly charge between
Griffiths and Tomkins with a powerful header that found the City
Loan debutant Sykes
stretches to get the cross in.
That goal rocked City and
in equal part gave the Ducks a bit more spark and we could have
fallen further behind in the next few minutes. Chris Thompson was
forced to make another good tackle on Lazarus but a few moments
later he got away again and slid the ball in field. Griffiths bravely
charged down the first effort but his block fell to Scott McCafferty
who rifled in a fierce shot. Matt
Bath is one of the best shot savers in the SLP and he proved
that again with a fantastic save to his right. These were tricky
moments for City and Wilko also made a good block with Bath making
another save from a shot from outside the box.
We could easily have lost our way at this point but
Tom Webb put himself about and we managed to haul ourselves back
in to the Aylesbury half and once we put their defence back under
some pressure we again looked the better side. Quickfire crosses
from both wings through Webb and Sykes really started to stretch
the Ducks defence. City then put together the move of the match
with some clever midfield work by Mustoe and Webb to create space
for Lee Davis to cross and Corbett came very close to squeezing
the ball in at the near post. You could feel City getting closer
to the equaliser and another fine move saw Sykes and Chris
Thompson carve their way down the pitch and Thommo flick the
ball in field to Griffiths, the City skipper crashing in a smart
volley that Rashid did well to reach and tip over the bar. City
were pressing all the time but when the goal came it looked very
easy as the Aylesbury defence suddenly lost concentration. Webb
got down the right again to pick up an overlap ball from Thompson.
His cross simply eluded the defenders who'd also missed Wilko's
run into the box and the City midfielder had little trouble sliding
the ball in from close range for his his third of the season.
|Thommo plays spot the ball
as City press on the right.
Getting back on level terms was never going to be
enough for City at home to another side struggling against the drop
and City continued to pile on the pressure. Aylesbury were feeling
the heat ands started to get caught out in midfield and picking
up three quick yellow cards as Sykes, webb and Corbett all found
themselves on the end of heavy challenges. City switched to 4-4-2
and try to get into the Ducks, although Luke Corbett limped off
to be replaced by Marvin Thompson. Sykes was moved further up the
pitch, but unfortunately the reshuffle was probably badly timed
as the winger was just running out of steam with his lack of match
fitness now becoming apparent.
With Mansell coming back on for Sykes in the last few minutes we
finally seemed to rediscover some momentum and in the closing stages
Aylesbury had their keeper Jack Rashid to thank for them managing
to cling on to a point. Frustratingly Darryl
Addis had a good chance to pick up a Webb through ball but he
seemed to pull out of what was a close range with the keeper who'd
come off his line very quickly. Sad to say, but from the T-End it
looked as if the forward had bottled it.
In fairness to Addis he doesn't hide and for all of his current
problems he does work hard and carried on looking for the ball.
With Neil Mustoe now getting forward
more and more often and looking like the City player who wanted
the points the most there were plenty of frantic challenges and
defending from the visitors. Mustoe then produced a fine chip from
the left to Addis beyond the far post. This time he connected with
a text-book volley that again found Rashid able to twist back and
make a remarkable save.
City's last effort came in the final minute as Mustoe piled through
a couple of challenges only to finally see his fierce shot charged
down by an Aylesbury defender. City were forced to settle for a
point at the final whistle, but it was probably a fair reflection
of the whole game even though City had dominated the last period
in their search for a winner. Rashid got warm applause from the
home fans, and in fairness to Aylesbury this didn't look like a
side so lacking in quality they deserve to be where they are in
the table. City still need to do more to show they too deserve a
place away from relegation fears, but at least we're now steadily
picking up points and beginning to show some much better attacking
* City's winning run may have come to an end but at least this
point finally sees us out of the bottom four relegation places for
the first time, passing Evesham whose match at Mangotsfield was
one of two fall victim to waterlogged pitches after the recent barrage
of heavy rain. In other results at our end of the table the surprise
result came at Merthyr Tydfil who lost 1-0 to bottom club Northwood.
Cheshunt and Cirencester both stay in trouble, Cheshunt falling
3-2 victims to the continuing Rugby Town revival while Ciren lost
2-1 at Banbury after going behind to two goals in the first five
minutes. At the top of the table Salisbury lost 1-0 at Grantham
and Bedford beat Chippenham 2-1 to be the side to take advantage
and jump above them in the table.
|| 18th (+1)
||dry and overcast
| by t-towel
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