Biggleswade United prevailed 1-0 in their FA Cup Preliminary Round tie against Aylesbury United on Sunday to once again secure their place in the first qualifying round.
It took a late goal from Charlie Black to topple hosts Aylesbury United, who ply their trade one league above in the Southern League Division One Central, sparking rapturous celebrations from United officials, players and the travelling supporters who had made the trip up to Thame to witness a truly remarkable result.
Goalkeeper Tom Wyant recorded a third clean sheet in four matches at Meadow View Park despite a fairly desperate opening 20 minutes for his side. If the 13 places that separated the two sides last season weren’t reflected in the final scoreline, it was certainly apparent in the opening exchanges of Sunday’s game as the Ducks had a series of chances to break the deadlock.
Reece Cameron’s driven shot was eventually collected by Wyant after the ball seemed to evade his grasp initially. Cameron almost turned provider seconds later as he curled a dangerous cross into the six-yard-box which somehow failed to pick out a fellow green shirt.
Another opportunity swiftly followed when Olly Stanbridge whipped his shot harmlessly wide of Wyant’s far post before the United keeper was required to defy Taylor Collins as the forward advanced on goal. He then denied Hammond for the second time, holding onto to the midfielder’s effort from range.
The visitors were finally offered a reprieve when Matt Cooper, operating as a left back, drove to the byline and found David Iwediuno who manoeuvered well to engineer a shot from a narrow angle and win a corner. Collins then saw his rasping drive from a dead ball fly over the bar representing the home side’s last notable effort of the half as their dominance began to wane.
United were moving the ball with greater fluency and creating openings with more regularity as Charlie Joy found space in a central area before dragging his shot wide.
The winger came closer soon after when Kane Farrell’s corner broke kindly on the edge of the box for the former Stotfold man, who used his first touch to set himself up before proceeding to volley over the bar.
The Ducks came out for the second period seemingly revitalised with Collins squandering a glorious chance straight after the break as he failed to turn Cameron’s inch-perfect cross past the stranded Wyant. That would be his last contribution as he was replaced by Alvin Rajaram. Stanbridge then saw his shot drift comfortably wide prior to Cameron firing into the keeper’s midriff from an acute angle.
United Head Coach Cristian Colás then made his first change electing to take off Antonio Mitri with Jake O’Neil entering the fray. Iwediuno then used his pace and physicality to power his way into the area and get a shot away across keeper Zaki Oualah who palmed the ball out before claiming it.
Josh Sturniolo then came on for the bullish striker with the match finely poised heading into the final 25 minutes.
Joy volleyed narrowly over for the second time after he latched onto a cross from the right hand side. The hosts then assumed control and had several opportunities to score in a game which looked increasingly like it would be decided by the single goal.
Cameron spun in behind but skewed his shot horribly wide to the dismay of the Ducks’ fans behind Wyant’s goal. Rajaram was far more accurate with his attempt but was unfortunately met by the impressive Wyant as he beared down on. The United stopper came out superbly to deny the diminutive forward, however he wasn’t so influential minutes later as he had to rely on one of his defenders to scramble the ball off the line after a corner wreaked havoc in the area.
The most enterprising chance of the match for the away side soon followed when Black slid in O’Neil who fired his shot straight at the keeper. With the prospect of a replay at Second Meadow on Wednesday night looming the killer blow was then struck. Sergio Urbano and Gareth Hunt linked up brilliantly before the Spaniard fed Black who strode onto the ball confidently, advanced into the penalty area and drilled low past the despairing Oualah at his near post.
There were a few nervous moments in the closing stages for United. First when substitute Jake Denley rattled the bar with a sensational free kick and subsequently when Rajaram forced Wyant into a save with a driven shot but the United keeper held on expertly- not for the first time. Kevin Owusu was introduced in place of Joy as a time wasting ploy for the remaining seconds before the referee blew the final whistle to the delight of those in red and navy.
A marvellous reaction to last weekend’s disappointing defeat at the hands of newly promoted Edgware Town. The performance was dogged, spirited and the winning goal was one of pure quality and a credit to the work done on the training ground by the coaching staff.
The FA Cup First Qualifying Round awaits with Hitchin Town presenting an even tougher task for Colás’ men. It is one they will surely relish though when they travel to Top Field on Saturday 3rd September, KO 3pm to take on last season’s Southern Premier League Premier Division play-off semi finalists.
Attentions revert back to the SSML PRemier Division campaign this weekend, however, with Colney Heath the hosts on Saturday at 3pm.