Captain Wood steps up to the mark to help Ducks claim three priceless points

Shannon Jesson attempts to beat Arlesey goalkeeper Nick Thompson. Pictures by Jake McNulty
Shannon Jesson attempts to beat Arlesey goalkeeper Nick Thompson. Pictures by Jake McNulty

Aylesbury captain Jack Wood gave United’s survival hopes a much-needed tonic at the weekend when his second-half goal handed the Ducks three crucial points with a 1-0 win over Arlesey Town.

Three straight defeats had left United teetering on the brink of Division One Central’s bottom two but Saturday’s win lifts them two points clear of Leighton Town with a game in hand.

Ducks boss Glyn Creaser opted for four changes as in came Ricky Brown, Sonny French, Stacey Field and, for his first start, Shannon Jesson.

It was United who had the first shot at goal when a ball into the box was eventually brought down by Bruno Brito but his effort was straight at Nick Thompson.

Arlesey then began to gain the upper hand and would have opened the scoring, only for Wood’s heroic intervention. Lewis Wilson played the ball through for the clever run of Tony Williams whose shot beat Zaki Oualah and appeared to be spinning goalwards, but Wood slid in and cleared the ball against the post.

Aylesbury had responded with a long shot from Brito that was sent skywards, though once again Town came closer when Wilson played the ball into ex-Duck Christian Tavernia who was allowed to turn under no pressure but placed his shot straight at Oualah.

Oualah then saved with his legs from Wilson before tipping over Jevani Brown’s free-kick as the visitors continued to threaten pose the greater threat, though the first half ended goalless.

The second period began with a Williams curling effort that caused Oualah no difficulties, but Brito should have done better at the other end some nine minutes later when Greg Williams teed him up but blasted over the bar.

With Aylesbury’s confidence on the up they went close again through Jesson this time, the recent signing latching on to French’s pass before beating the keeper with his weaker right foot but seeing his shot clip the outside of the post.

Three minutes later and United did find the breakthrough. Jake Bewley curled in a free-kick from the right which was met with a deft flick by Field, with that man Wood stealing in at the back post to guide the ball home and give United a crucial lead.

There were still 30 minutes left, though, and Aylesbury were almost undone straight from kick-off as another fabulous saving tackle from Wood cleared the danger.

That rather set the tone for the remaining minutes as the Ducks defended resolutely with Wood and Coulter repelling the visitors time and again.

Joseph Steele went closest for Arlesey, heading wide a corner, and nervy moments followed but Aylesbury clung on for a priceless victory.

Now the focus is on Tuesday’s local derby with rivals Aylesbury FC.