Bennion the spot-kick hero as determined Moles halt Bromsgrove's charge
Nick Bennion saved two penalties in the final five minutes as Aylesbury FC claimed a superb point against unbeaten league leaders Bromsgrove Sporting after an incident-packed clash on Saturday.
The 0-0 final scoreline fails to accurately portray the drama and excitement of a pulsating encounter Haywood Way as the Moles gave as good as they got against their free-scoring opponents before relying on Bennion’s late heroics.
Hoping to build on the previous week’s first victory of the season, manager Scott Reynolds welcomed back Lewis Strafford and Jordan Jenkins as his side made a promising start against the leaders.
On a greasy pitch, Lewis Strafford’s clever flick almost released Ryan Ware through on goal before a defensive mix-up at the other end nearly allowed the visitors to get in.
Bromsgrove got into their stride with some slick passing football, but FC denied them space in all areas of the pitch, chasing and harrying in defence to limit the visitors to few clear shots on goal.
Jack Wilson’s surging run ended with a flashing shot that whistled wide while Aaron King headed fractionally the wrong side of the post from Ryan Ware’s corner.
Aylesbury’s next chance came just five minutes later when a ball across the edge of the box found its way to Josh Williams, who escaped his defender and was one-on-one with Brown in the away goal but the goalkeeper somehow managed to block the shot.
On 36 minutes, Bennion made the first of a number of excellent saves when he dived full-length to parry away a Richard Gregory free-kick, and it was then the turn of Brown to keep the game goalless at half-time as he reacted smartly to deny Josh Williams.
With the rain falling more heavily, Aylesbury carved out another opportunity early in the second-period through Bruno Brito, whose 20-yard effort forced Brown into action.
King went close again on the hour-mark, drawing an excellent low save from Brown at his near post, and Bromsgrove’s goalkeeper remained a busy man when his outstretched hand tipped Luke Cray’s shot past the post.
If the rest of the game had been breathless, fans of both sides were in for an even more exciting last ten minutes.
With five minutes of normal time to go, Bennion was adjudged to have brought down Pykett when most people in the crowd, including the away supporters, thought he’d nicked the ball away from the substitute. Gregory stepped up but Bennion redeemed himself, flinging his body in the right direction and parrying the ball to safety, much to the home crowd’s delight.
That wasn’t it though and with the 90 minutes already up, Lewis Strafford handled when trying to block a shot and the referee awarded another penalty for the visitors. Again Bennion was Bromsgrove’s nemesis, however, when remarkably keeping out Gregory from the spot for a second time.
That preserved a valuable and hard-earned point for his team, although more drama was to come after the full-time whistle as Aylesbury’s Craig Carby saw red for a confrontation with the referee.
That was a sour way to end what had otherwise been a productive and positive afternoon for the Moles, who now welcome bottom side and still winless Kidlington to Haywood Way this weekend.