Two goals from Sonny French, including one sensational strike from the halfway line, inspired Aylesbury United to a third straight victory on Saturday as they concluded a fine week in style, winning 2-0 away at Petersfield Town.
Having been inside the relegation zone just two weeks ago, the Ducks are now up to 18th in Division One Central of the Southern League, four points clear of the bottom two with a game in hand.
French, enjoying a rare central midfield role in the absence of Shaun Owens, was star of the show on Saturday with two goals; the second a once-in-a-lifetime strike from the second-half kick-off.
Yet it was another supreme defensive performance that laid the foundations, highlighting the steady improvements United have shown in that area under Glyn Creaser and a far cry from the 6-2 defeat Petersfield inflicted on the sides’ last meeting.
Their new-found confidence was evident in the opening exchanges that saw them twice hit the bar. After just six minutes French found Reece Cameron who showed fine skill to beat his man and fire in a shot that was palmed onto the bar by a shaky-looking Luke Eaton.
The resulting French corner was met by the flying Greg Williams who beat everyone to crash a header against the bar, with Crook unable to control the rebound as he headed off target.
Petersfield had won eight of their last nine home games but United continued to do all the running early on as Bruno Brito drilled over before the hosts finally carved out their first opening, only for Jordan Neal to miss the target.
Stacey Field was next to have a decent chance when firing wide, and finally Aylesbury made their good play count with a deserved lead on 20 minutes.
A neat move involving Cameron and Field ended with the ball played to French who found the net with a low shot that Eaton will be disappointed not to have saved, as the ball looped into the net off his body.
The action-packed encounter continued at pace and Town spurned a glorious chance to level when a cross in from the right saw Zaki Oualah seemingly fouled in mid-air, but the ball dropped to an attacker who lashed the ball wide of the open goal.
Chances kept coming at both ends and United were only denied a two-goal lead at half-time when Shrieves’ effort was somehow scrambled off the line by Lewis Hyde.
With thoughts focussed on whether Aylesbury could maintain their excellent first half performance, nobody could have predicted what happened next.
As the kick-off was touched to him, French struck a perfectly-placed effort from the centre circle that the backpedaling Eaton did his best to keep out but could only help on its way into the top corner.
It was a quite stunning way for Aylesbury to lead 2-0 and now the visitors were in cruise control.
Petersfield did not go down without a fight, though, as their top scorer Howard Neighbour three times came close, while Aylesbury always posed a threat at the other end with Lea Coulter, French and Brito off target.
Aylesbury were defended doggedly and even after Crook saw red for a second bookable offence with 14 minutes remaining, they restricted Petersfield to few clear-cut openings, with an utterly absorbing game finally coming to an end.
Aylesbury United visited Aylesbury FC last night, Tuesday, and this weekend Beaconsfield SYCOB are the visitors to the ASM Stadium.