This wasn't my first visit to the ASM Stadium, although I had not been there since September 2014 when I saw landlords Thame United defeat Shrivenham 4-3 in an entertaining Hellenic Premier clash (http://www.botp.co.uk/blog/the-thaming-of-the-shriv). The stadium and the surrounding facilities, now 6 years old, still have quite a new feel to them. My Dad, who had not seen the stadium before, was largely impressed by the set-up and particularly liked to seating that runs along two-thirds of the car park side of the ground.
The Moles have been struggling somewhat this season and came into this game just on place above the drop zone, albeit with an 11 point gap to second-bottom Histon. The Ducks, after a poor season last term were sitting comfortably in mid-table, ten points above their local rivals. The sides had already met earlier in the season at Haywood Way, with The Ducks edging a tight game by 1-0 and earning their first competitive win over The Moles. League form suggested that they could make it two in a row but history, two home defeats in Decmeber and the fact that it was a local derby cast some doubt over that presumption.
The teams took to the pitch under cloudless blue skies, a sure sign that the temperature was going to drop before the 90 minutes was over, and belive me, it wasn't that warm to start with. However, there was a decent turnout from both sides and we waited to see if El Quackico would prvode some Boxing Day sparkle.
First of all though we had an immaculately observed minute's silence for long-standing Ducks supporter and General Secretary of the Western League, Mark Edmonds who sadly lost a battle with cancer recently.
It took until the 35th minute for United to break the deadlock but when it did come it was no surprise that French was the scorer. Capitalising in some hesitancy from the visiting defence and keeper, French managed to get to the ball first, catching Jenkins in no mnas land and lobbing him from a tight angle. It was a good finish but the chance was gifted to him by the Moles defensive lapse. 1-0.
The Ducks came close again before half-time but there was little in response from Aylesbury who, it has to be said, seemed rather lacklustre. The teams left the field at HT with the score Aylesbury United 1 Aylesbury 0.
I don't normally pick out individuals in games unless, in my opinion, they are outstanding. In this game I did feel that Sonny French was at the heart of everyting that United did. He wanted the ball in all areas of the pitch, was distributing it well when he got it and looked a threat in the last third. I felt sure that, when the teams returned, The Moles woudl have been told to close him down and maybe even to have instructed someone to man-mark him.
However, with just a few minutes gone in the second period, it was clear that French was still finding as much space in the middle of the park as in the first half. It was the same player that made the second Ducks goal. Driving at the heart of the Moles defence, the first shot was blocked but when it spun loose to Brito he returned it, with the aid of a pretty big deflection, into the corner of Jenkins' net. 2-0 to United and looking increasingly like a home banker.
Oualah was finally called upon to go full stretch with 15 minutes remaining when he got a touch to Deacon's rasping drive but, in fairness, it was a token effort. With just under ten minutes remaining Kinnane got on the scoresheet with another deflected effort. This time hitting a shot from the edge of the box that caught a defenders leg and completely wrong-footed Jenkins. 3-0.
In fairness to Aylesbury they could easily have collapsed for the final few minutes. They were a well beaten side, but they did keep the scoring to three before the referee ended their suffering.
All in all a very good team performance form United. French was, for me at least, the standout player on the day but that shouldn't take anything away from the team. United were better than their oppoonents across the entire pitch.
Thanks to both sides for providing some good Boxing Day entertainment and bets wishes to both sides in the New Year.
Aylesbury United - @aylesburyutdfc
Aykesbury - @aylesburyfc