Ducks on a roll as Witter and French combine to sink Northwood

Troy Witter heads in his first Ducks goal. Picture by Mike Snell

Troy Witter heads in his first Ducks goal. Picture by Mike Snell

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Aylesbury United’s steady ascent up the Division One Central table continued on Saturday with a third straight league win as they edged out Northwood 2-1.

The Ducks only just survived last season but they’re on course for a hugely improved finish this time around, with Saturday’s win even keeping their slim hopes of claiming a play-off place alive.

Manager Glyn Creaser made two changes for the visit of Northwood, recalling Sonny French and Jordan Federick, but the game was a slow-burner as United dominated the opening exchanges without creating too many chances.

It wasn’t until the 15th minute that the home side had an attempt on target; Olly Stanbridge found Reece Cameron, but the striker’s shot lacked the pace to trouble Montel Joseph in goal.

Northwood’s attacks were few and far between but the visitors had a great opening to go in front midway through the first-half when ex-Duck Mark Burgess and Alex De La Salle combined to find Myles Stephenson whose shot was deflected wide by Jack Wood.

Troy Witter failed to find the target with a header for United while Luke Heneghan threatened for the visitors, but neither side found the breakthrough prior to half-time.

Contrary to the start in the first-half, the Ducks started the second with much better intensity and that was rewarded within two minutes.

After Sonny French was thwarted by Montel Joseph, United won a corner from which Witter rose highest in the six-yard box to net his first goal for the Ducks.

With their tails up, the Ducks were back on the attack; a loose clearance was picked up by French, who laid it square into the path of Stanbridge, however the midfielder’s shot was deflected wide.

The tricky Heneghan was again a threat for Northwood when beating three defenders and shooting off target, however it was the home side who posed the greater threat.

French and Reece Cameron both saw shots blocked before Greg Williams miskicked in front of goal.

Northwood captain James Burgess almost got his team back in the game in the 75th minute when a long free-kick from Alex Nolan found its way to the skipper, but his shot lacked composure from a tight angle and flew over the bar.

In truth, United were controlling the game easily, and it came as no surprise when they doubled their lead in the 83rd minute. Cameron robbed Burgess on the right and crossed to French. His first effort was saved by Joseph, but he had the presence of mind to follow up and bury his second attempt for a decisive goal.

To their credit, Northwood never gave up and ended the game on top and their persistence was rewarded deep into injury-time when Gradi Milenge rose high to power home a late consolation.

That meant no clean sheet for United but it mattered little as a third straight win had already been secured.

Next up is the visit of Banbury United, who sit seventh in the Premier Division, on Wednesday in the League Cup, followed by the short trip to Chalfont St Peter on Saturday.