After a succession of postponements due to the weather, Aylesbury FC finally played their first league game of 2016 at the weekend, however it ended in defeat with leaders AFC Rushden & Diamonds coming away from Haywood Way with all three points.
Although Diamonds began well, the home side were rarely threatened in the opening quarter and had their own moments with Ben Stevens heading wide and Jamie Rudd also going close.
But as the game wore on Rushden became increasingly dominant as James Weatherill saved well from Shawn Richards before denying Delroy Gordon with a brilliant stop.
He could do nothing about the opening goal on 23 minutes, though, as Aylesbury failed to clear their lines and the ball fell to Andy Hall, whose long-range effort deflected into the net.
The Moles almost got straight back on level terms when a corner fell straight to Kieron Schmidt but he could only shoot wide before visiting Matt Finlay tipped Rudd’s attempt wide.
FC were pressing for a leveller, however it was Rushden who scored next when Jon Stevenson fired past Weatherill to double the away side’s lead, which was almost immediately halved again with a goal of stunning quality and technique.
On the cusp of half-time, the ball fell to Rudd who, 25 yards from goal, unleashed a venomous shot into the top corner to get his side right back into the game.
But just six minutes of the second half had passed when Rushden restored their two-goal lead as Richards finished clinically from eight yards out.
Aylesbury dominated possession in the second period as the visitors dropped deeper and deeper but there was a distinct lack of clear-cut chances and the game seemed to be petering out.
There was a flurry of late drama, though, as Brian Haule’s 89th minute goal resurrected home of a dramatic late comeback, only for Rushden to immediate quash Aylesbury hopes through substitute Claudie Hoban’s injury-time fourth goal, before Ben Stevens’ red card compounded a disappointing afternoon for Aylesbury.
The Moles have two away games this week, against North Greenford on Tuesday and then Godalming on Saturday.