Aylesbury FC’s slim hopes of catching leaders Kettering Town were all but ended at the weekend when they succumbed to a 1-0 defeat at fellow high-flyers Barton Rovers.
The Moles made the trip to Bedfordshire keen to keep up their recent good form and further cement their place in the play-offs, but a swirling wind made for difficult conditions as a well-worked free-kick in the latter stages of the first half was enough to earn Barton all three points.
FC remain second despite the defeat, but any hope of catching Kettering has been extinguished with the table toppers needing just four more points to secure the title.
Steve Bateman and his side must now focus on making sure they’re in the play-offs come the end of the season, with the Moles six points clear of Rugby Town, who are sixth and one place outside the play-offs, ahead of the final five games of the season.
Barton had the first chance of note on Saturday with Kev Kilroy’s effort blocked by Adam Logie, but FC responded well as Gareth Price fizzed an effort narrowly wide before Ryan O’Toole was denied by home keeper Kyle Forster.
The visitors were beginning to settle as they played down the slope, however the swirling wind was wreaking havoc with lofted passes constantly flying out of play in a first half of few chances.
Aylesbury did pose a threat at times, though, and they came close to breaking the deadlock when Brian Haule was given time to spin in the box and only a fingertip save prevented the Moles from going ahead, before Forster was again on hand to thwart O’Toole from the resulting corner.
Dave Deeny then played in Adam Logie, whose audacious chip only just cleared the bar, before the only goal of the game arrived, but it came at the other end.
A needlessly-conceded free kick on the edge of the FC box was floated into the area and as the away defenders ball-watched, Rhys Hoenes reacted quickest and planted his diving header past James Weatherill.
Brian Haule immediately had a chance to equalise but struck his shot powerfully into the side netting before Barton ended the half on top with Weatherill producing one of the saves of the season to tip Joe Reynolds’ rasping 25-yard drive around the post.
The second half saw the home team kicking down the slope, yet it was the visitors who created the first chance as Haule forced Forster into a block, while at the other end, Weatherill produced his second save of note from Kilroy.
From this point on, the quality of the game declined as each team made changes and in a desperate final minute for the Moles, Logie delivered a long range throw in, yet as Wadkins flicked the ball goalwards, the referee noticed an infringement and FC’s last chance had gone.
Aylesbury now play twice over the Easter weekend, first they host North Greenford United on Saturday before welcoming rivals Aylesbury United to Haywood Way.