Moles pip rivals United in New Year’s Day thriller

Brian Haule scores from the penalty spot for Aylesbury FC against rivals United on New Year's Day. Picture by Jake McNulty
Brian Haule scores from the penalty spot for Aylesbury FC against rivals United on New Year's Day. Picture by Jake McNulty

Aylesbury’s two Southern League football clubs served up a New Year’s Day cracker with FC edging out rivals United in a seven-goal thriller at Bell Close.

The Moles seemed to be cruising at 2-0 up at half-time but the Ducks produced a stirring second half fightback to level at 3-3, only for Brian Haule to snatch a late winner.

With leaders Kettering losing at home to Rugby Town on the same day, the win sees second-placed FC close the gap to just four points on the table-toppers, while United remain 12th.

In front of over 300 spectators, it was the Ducks who started the match on the front foot when number nine Jason Blackett found himself with the ball on the edge of the area. He fed the ball to Jake Bewley however his effort across goal went wide of the post.

FC grew into the game but were unable to convert a number of opportunities to go in front, including on 16 minutes when a ball into the box from Brad Wadkins found Ben Bateman, who was denied by United’s on-loan goalkeeper, Taht Bell, before the ball found Aston Goss, who was also denied by the keeper.

Wadkins and Lynton Goss then failed to score with further opportunities as keeper Bell, on loan from Hitchin, continued to repel the attacks, before the pressure eventually told and the visitors broke the deadlock on 28 minutes through Wadkins, who capitalised on a missed clearance by United’s John Mulholland to open the scoring and make it 1-0 to the Moles.

The home side attempted to fight back and had chances through Mulholland and Stacey Field, however in first-half stoppage time the Moles doubled their lead with a particularly soft goal as Daniel Murphy’s corner from the right flew straight into the back of the net to make it 2-0 at the break.

The Ducks came roaring back, though, and gained a foothold in the game on 49 minutes as John Mulholland headed in from Paul Edgeworth’s corner after getting above his marker to make it 2-1.

However, the renewed enthusiasm of the home fans was instantly punctured as just a minute later FC were awarded a penalty for a foul on Lynton Goss by Bewley.

Haule stepped up to do the honours and slotted the ball into the right corner of the goal, sending Bell the wrong way in the process, to re-establish the two goal advantage at 3-1 to FC.

United suffered another blow as forward Jason Blackett pulled up in the centre circle while aiming to control the ball, and he was helped off by the physio with what looked to be a pulled hamstring.

The Ducks picked themselves up and kept the visitors pinned back inside their own half, and their reward came on 69 minutes when Bewley’s ball into the box was not cut out and it sat up nicely for Field who hammered home to reduce the arrears again to 3-2.

In what was developing into a classic, substitute Gareth Price hit a curling shot just wide moments later as FC had a chance to restore their two-goal lead.

They were made to pay for the miss as United incredibly equalised on 73 minutes when FC keeper Jackson failed to hold on to United sub Jesse Waites corner. In a crowded penalty area, the ball fell to United captain Jack Wood, who finished into the net to make it 3-3 and send the Ducks supporters delirious.

The match was suddenly hanging in the balance and moments later United almost capped a remarkable comeback as Field had the ball in the net, although the linesman’s flag had long since gone up for offside and the effort was chalked off.

FC continued to look the more dangerous side and on 77 minutes, they retook the lead decisively as a set-piece from distance from Murphy ricocheted inside the area and sat up invitingly for Brian Haule, who finished from six yards out restoring the Moles lead at 4-3.

It proved to be the last act in a see-saw encounter as the final whistle sparked wild celebrations from some of the FC fans in the away end.

The result extends FC’s winning run to seven league matches and maintains their 100 per cent record over United.

Both sides are now in action this Saturday, with FC hosting Daventry Town and United travelling to Uxbridge.

Aylesbury United: Bell, Hatch, Bewley, Wood (capt), Mulholland, Morgan, Baines, Williams, Blackett (Acheampong 56), Field, Edgeworth (Waites 62).

Subs not used: Bircham, Chabota, Joyce.

Booked: Morgan, Bewley.

Goals: Mulholland 49, Field 69, Wood 73.

Aylesbury FC: Jackson, Prosper, Murphy, Bateman (French 77), Baker, Logie (capt), L Goss (Price 80), D Haule, B Haule, Wadkins, A Goss.

Subs not used: Dixon, Rudd, Deacon.

Booked: Wadkins 14, D Haule 64, Price 80.

Goals: Wadkins 28, Murphy 45+1, B Haule 51 pen, 78.