There have been quite a few changes at The Heights since my last visit, not least in the surrounding area. Access to the ground is now via Mitchell Lane. the old road, Potash Lane, doesn't seem to exist. Mitchell Way separates the football ground from a new housing estate, Blaise Park. Parking is still behind the clubhouse and is reasonably large. There is also parking alongside the car park on the service road. However, as this area is still being developed, that may not always be there.
Once inside the ground, through the entrance alongside the clubhouse block, you find yourself close to one of the corner flags with the pitch running left to right in front of you. The clubhouse, main stand and changing areas are immediately to your right. To your left there are a collection of buildings that house the toilets as well as the manager's office and physio room. The front of these buildings is covered by a lean-to roof that acts as standing spectator cover. The dugouts, which used to be in front of the main stand have been replaced with a more modern design situated on the opposite side of the pitch. The playing area is also surrounded by what looks like relatively new fencing (certainly replaced since I was last there). The playing surface looks flat and in pretty good condition. There is a whiteboard on the wall next to the clubhouse entrance that is used to post the teams before each game. Well done Milton. Love to see this.
This game was a Berks & Bucks FA Senior Cup third round tie. Aylesbury had recieved a bye in both of the first two rounds. Milton won 1-0 at Abingdon United in the first round and followed that up with a crushing 8-1 win at Wantage Town in Round Two. Milton have never won the Senior Cup but they did win the Intermediate Cup two season's running back in 1990 and 1991. Aylesbury, however, have win the Senior Cup on four occasions. The first time was way back before the outbreak of the First World War, in the 1913-14 season. They had to wait 72 years for their next title but it came in 1986 and was followed relatively quickly by wins in 1997 and 2000. The Ducks have seen leaner times since those days, dropping into the Spartan League for a few seasons before regaining their Southern League place in 2013.
This season, in their respective leagues, fortunes have been very differing. Whilst Aylesbury sit fifth from bottom in the Southern League Division One Central, Milton are currently third in the their league, the Combined Counties Premier league North. So, although this game had the potential for a giant-killing of sorts, there were, effectively, only six places between the teams at kick-off.
Aylesbury, in their change kit of amber with diagonal black stripes and fielding a much changed team from their previous few league outings, were kicking towards the Mitchell Lane end in the first half. After an initial few minutes of sparring, it was the home home side who began to take the initiative. On 9 minutes, right winger Ollie Nadin found himself in behind the defence out on the right. he drove towards goal and, as Alex Grantham came out to meet him, lobbed the goalkeeper only to see his effort bounce wide of the far post. It was a warning to the Ducks, but one they either didn't or couldn't heed. A few minutes later full-back Kieran Cooper burst forward, skipping past a few challenges before unleashing a shot which was also narrowly wide of Grantham's right-hand post. Two minutes later, however, the visitor's defences were breached following a left-wing corner, met by the head of Dan West, sending the ball flying past the keeper into the net. 1-0.
Milton sensed blood and immediately had Aylesbury on the back foot again. Only a minute after going in front they almost made it two when Liam Palfreeman's vicious effort hit the underside of the bar and bounced clear. The Duck's reprieve, however, was short-lived. A minute later, still under the cosh, they conceded a penalty. Louis Joyce duly slotted home the spot-kick and the visitors on home soil, were 2-0 up.
Aylesbury tried to respond and won a free-kick just outside the penalty area and towards the right corner of the box, after 20 minutes. David Lynn curled it over the wall but saw his strike crash off Matt Crowther's left-hand upright. To be fair, the goalkeeper did appear to have it covered. Good effort from Lynn nevertheless. Aylesbury had at least steadied the ship after conceding twice in a short period. Aside from Lynn's effort though, they had not forced Crowther into a save until just before the half-hour when Brayden Daniel jinked his was across the face of the 18-yard area before letting fly. Crowther gathered with ease but it was, at least, a shot on target for Aylesbury. Daniel had looked to be one of the brighter sparks for Aylesbury so far and I knew I had seen him play before. I was only after I consulted my notes later that I realised he had played for Oxford City Dev. at Shipston Excelsior back in October, a game that BotP was present at (Shipston Move Ever Upward).
Despite Milton still looking the livelier of the two sides and generating a few more half chances, there was no more scoring in the first half.
HT Milton United 2 Aylesbury United 0. A high-tempo, dominant display from Milton who restricted their higher-placed opponents to just a couple of strikes at goal, whilst maintaining a constant threat going forward. The question is, can they sustain the level of intensity in the second-half?
As with the goals in the first half, this strike sparked some activity from The Ducks. Two minutes after going three down they had a second effort on target when a cross from the left was met by the head of Feyi. Once again, it was easily fielded by Crowther. The ball, whoever was soon back down the other end. Substitute Cam Mills got his head to a cross and, when the ball slipped through the hands of Grantham, was unlucky to see it hit the bar and bounce away. His disappointment didn't last too long. A minute later he was played in by a lovely through ball from Bloomfield before sliding the ball past the onrushing Grantham to make it 4-0.
The game, as a contest, was over but Milton were not finished. With 72 minutes played they made it five when Thomas latched onto a loose headed ball back to the keeper, before squaring for Ollie Nadin to side foot in the fifth. 5-0
With fourteen minutes left on the clock, Aylesbury finally gave their travelling support something to warm them up on this chilly evening. A cross from the left was again the source of the threat. This time the cross found Justin Dass at the far post and he, in turn, found the opposite corner with a low strike. 5-1. The goal gave The Ducks a little bit of impetus and a few minutes later Crowther was forced into a good save to prevent substitute Rocko Tamplin from further reducing the deficit. That save proved to be the catalyst for a further Milton raid down their left flank with ended with the ball being fed into debutant James Smith who slotted home to make it 6-1.
FT Milton United 6 Aylesbury United 1. A comprehensive and thoroughly deserved victory for Milton against opposition from a higher league. Not even the most ardent Duck could complain about the result. In all fairness, Milton could have easily have gone into double figures, so dominant were they. I guess Aylesbury are far more concerned about staying in Step 4 than picking up a fifth Senior Cup.
Milton have no game at the weekend, presumably because of the Combined Counties sides who are still in the FA Vase. Their next game is on Tuesday, December 5th, when they travel to Scours Lane to face Reading City in the Challenge Cup. They recently defeated Reading 3-2 in a league game at The Heights. Meanwhile, Aylesbury welcome bottom side Kempston Rovers to The Meadow on Saturday, for a relegation six-pointer.
Milton United: Crowther, Copper, Sturgess, Moore(c), Lee, West, Nadin, Bloomfield, Joyce, Palfreeman, Thomas. Subs: Rowbotham, Organ, Smith, McKirnan, Mills
Aylesbury United: Grantham, Bewley, Bryan-Samuels, Wood(c), D.Feyi, Lynn, Daniel, Kalonda, Guthrie, Marsh-Brown, Dass. Subs: Afolabi, K.Feyi, Tamplin, Pearce, Callan
Ground Number: Re-Visit