Aylesbury hosted promotion hopefuls Amersham & Chalfont Ladies 1s on Saturday, who before the game were 3rd place in the league and a point off the top. As expected, A&C started the game with a high intensity and Aylesbury found themselves battling hard defensively. The Aylesbury defence were well organised with centre-backs Emma Cooling and Hannah Pigott working together to rid their team of the early danger. Aylesbury were able to regain their composure as the game progressed and had a few early chances themselves but were unable to take advantage.
Fifteen minutes into the game the deadlock was broken when an A&C attacker was gifted a shooting opportunity in the Aylesbury D, giving her side the lead as she pushed the ball underneath the diving Aylesbury goalkeeper Jade Hedger. It looked as though A&C would go on to score the next goal as their confidence grew, but Aylesbury remained focused and a good link-up of play between midfielders Gemma Hunter-Barnes and Maz Hassall saw another Aylesbury chance fly inches wide of the post! Despite their misfortune, it wasn’t long before Aylesbury’s determination paid off when player of the match Elisa Woodford punished the A&C defence with an equaliser following an accurate pass from Becs O’Neill.
The Aylesbury goal was a wakeup call for A&C who started to dominate the possession as the home team tired with ten minutes of the first half to play. They had several chances to score as the half-time break drew closer, but again the Aylesbury defence denied them the lead. To the disappointment of the Aylesbury players, another A&C attack led to a short-corner being awarded in the favour of the away side. The Aylesbury defence were quick off the line but were unable to intercept the well-rehearsed routine which gave A&C a 2-1 lead going into halftime.
Following the halftime break, A&C dominated possession and Aylesbury found themselves on their back foot, defending the numerous attempts on goal from their charged-up opposition. A fast paced A&C attack down the right wing was brought to a halt by defender Hannah Isherwood, but unfortunately the ball was cleared only as far as an A&C attacker, who played in her team mate to extend their lead to 3 with an easy slot in. Minutes later, Aylesbury felt the blow of the A&C attack again as they won and converted another tidy short corner routine making the score 4-1. To make matters worse for the home side, Aylesbury midfielder Voirrey Holmes was given a yellow card and ten minutes in the sin bin following a hard tackle, leaving the struggling Aylesbury side with only ten players.
Completely against the run of play given the circumstances, Aylesbury found themselves dominating possession with fifteen minutes to play and grabbed a goal back when Chloe Banks played in Woodford, who finished confidently for her second. A&C still had the two goal advantage – and the extra player – but the home side didn’t give up and were determined to get something from the game as A&C’s nerves began to show. The away side set off again on an attack down the right wing, but this time Aylesbury read the move and defender Jess Boult stepped up to make a tackle, passing the ball to captain Natasha James who lingered on the halfway line. James drove at full pace past a defender to the oppositions D where she was met by the goalkeeper – fortunately she kept her cool and slotted the ball into the bottom corner to make the score 4-3.
With minutes left to play and Aylesbury back to eleven players, every A&C player had dropped back to defend. Aylesbury came close to equalising on a couple of occasions but failed to convert their back to back short corners. Key junior player Alice Rolfe also came close on one occasion but the A&C goalkeeper did her job and protected her side’s lead as the full time whistle blew, to the disappoint of the fighting home side. A&C took the points and Aylesbury remain at 6th in the league, travelling to Oxford next Saturday to play the University’s 2nd team.
Team: Banks, Boult, Cooling, Hassall, Hedger, Holmes, Hunter-Barnes, Isherwood, James, O’Neill, Pigott, Rolfe and Woodford.