Aylesbury United were undone by a late Connor Calcutt goal as they went down 3-2 at Barton Rovers on Saturday.
The Ducks welcomed back Tre Mitford to the starting line-up, replacing the unavailable Bruno Brito. On a sticky, heavy pitch, and with both sides taking time to come to terms with the conditions, the early stages were fairly uneventful.
The hosts adapted best and looked more threatening as the game developed. The first chance came as a result of a long throw, with Calcutt flicking the ball goalwards where his strike partner Eliott Bailey could direct it straight at Zaki Oualah.
The Ducks goalkeeper was again on hand to thwart Charlie Smith before United’s first chance of the game ended with Tre Mitford’s dangerous cross being hacked away before he tested home keeper Tom Coulton from a free-kick.
The deadlock was broken in the 25th minute. From a long free-kick, Bailey headed the ball down into the path of strike partner Calcutt, whose powerful drive found the top corner, giving Oualah no chance whatsoever.
The Ducks had a great chance to equalise two minutes later, Coulter and Mitford combed well again, with the fomer’s low cross just evading the onrushing Mitford and away for a goal-kick.
In the 30th minute, a free-kick taken by Calcutt was met by the head of home skipper Steve Gentle, but he nodded off target, and the final chance of the half again fell to the home side; the dangerous Calcutt crossing from the right, but again Bailey couldn’t get his header on target.
Aylesbury started the second-half well, attacking with more fluency. In the 51st minute, a good move down the right saw Coulter and Mitford combine again. This time, as Mitford broke into the penalty area, he had time to look up and slot into the path of the incoming Josh Baines, who crashed his shot into the roof of the net for the equaliser.
They were on level terms for only eight minutes, however, as Smith’s well-placed free-kick found the top corner and restored Barton’s lead.
Following a period of few chances, the Ducks equalised for the second time in the 75th minute. Stanbridge collected the ball in the penalty area and was fouled, resulting in a penalty. Mitford stepped up and confidently fired it home.
In the 79th minute, Mitford had a great opportunity to score his second. A good ball forward from Sonny French was collected well by the striker, who outpaced his marker but blazed over the crossbar with just the keeper to beat.
That miss was to be crucial. Just two minutes later the Ducks’ fragilities against set pieces was again exposed. A deep free-kick found Hartley, whose shot on the turn was deflected and from the subsequent corner,, Calcutt got in front of his marker at the near post and headed home for his second goal of the match.
That was to be the last meaningful action, with the hosts seeing out the remaining minutes for a deserved win which took them up to fourth place in the league.
The Ducks returned to action on Tuesday when they visit Bishops Cleeve for their League Cup clash.
United then host Kempston Rovers this weekend.