Improved Ducks denied the spoils by last-minute penalty

Bruno Brito produced a superb lob to hand Aylesbury the lead against Ashford. Picture: Mike Snell
Bruno Brito produced a superb lob to hand Aylesbury the lead against Ashford. Picture: Mike Snell
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A stoppage time penalty denied a much-improved Aylesbury United side all three points in their meeting with Ashford Town at the weekend.

Ashford’s decent start to life back in the Southern League meant a point was a solid result for United, but they were seconds away from taking all three until Mark Bitmead rolled in a spot kick, awarded for handball, with virtually the last kick of the game.

Jack Wood blocked an early shot from Bayley Mummery as the Tangerines made a strong start, with leading marksman Bitmead hitting the crossbar from 25 yards and Russell Canderton heading wide.

Aylesbury’s first chance fell to Ryan Kinnane whose stooping header was blocked before Dan Fleming fired over as play returned to the other end.

Midway through the half Zaki Oualah was called upon to make his customary top class save of the game when Max Herbert’s bottom corner-bound snapshot was superbly tipped wide by the keeper.

With ten minutes of the half left, Aylesbury made the breakthrough. A fine pass from Bewley allowed Bruno Brito to spring the offside trap, where he produced an exquisite lob to beat the advancing Kavanagh Keadell before running on and tapping into the empty net just to be sure.

The second-half got off to a slow start, with the conditions worsening as the mist rolled in to add to the damp and cold already around Short Lane.

Ashford were largely being limited to half chances by United’s resolute rearguard, with Scott Weight’s wayward shot the hosts’ only meaningful attempt for some time.

Meanwhile, Reece Cameron had two sighters – firstly driving just over and then a neat move saw Jonny Miller find French who in turn passed sideways to Cameron whose low effort was saved.

When the prolific Bitmead poked a shot wide with five minutes to go, it looked like Aylesbury were on their way out of Middlesex with all three points, and even more so when another chance went begging through Weight heading Bitmead’s free-kick over.

That man Bitmead had the final say though. In the third minute of stoppage time Ollie Stanbridge was penalised for handling, with Bitmead the coolest man on the pitch as he sent Oualah the wrong way for his 19th goal of the season.

With that effectively being the last action of the game, it was enough to salvage a point for Ashford and deny United.

Aylesbury are 10th in Division One Central and host struggling Petersfield Town this weekend.