Aylesbury 1 Price 23
Calor League Division One Central (Saturday 01 March)
Pictures from the game at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/89317930@N06/sets/72157641801373325/
A five game unbeaten run and opponents who had barely kicked a ball in 10 weeks should have made Saints hot favourites to win Saturday's Buckinghamshire derby.
Instead, they could barely get their game out of neutral and allowed themselves to be outplayed and bullied by an Aylesbury side that clearly wanted it more to help themselves escape the dangers of the relegation zone.
Both sides started brightly and while the quality may not have been illuminating, the enthusiasm and welcome sunshine made up for it. Remmel Clarke asked early questions down the right flank but was to fade badly as the afternoon wore on. Even with three quality central defenders in their back line, Saints missed the absent Gareth Paxton and the Aylesbury front line, led by ex-Saint Brad Wadkins, was a constant threat. The end-to-end exchanges finally produced a goal after 23 minutes after Alex Paine had gone close at one end, the ball was moved swiftly to the other end where Gareth Price stole in between two defender to score unchallenged.
It could have become worse for Saints when, having a strong shout for a penalty turned down when Remmel Clarke was taken out in the area, a swift attack and desperate defending saw Anthony Lennon harshly adjudged to have handled and a spot kick was awarded. Brad Wadkins could only watch in horror as Michael Power-Simpson brilliantly saved his penalty.
Just before the break, there was a huge talking point as goalscorer Price was shown a red card for colliding with Farai Hallam as the visitors again broke quickly. There was some feeling that it was a harsh call and with the officiating looking inconsistent there was a fear there could be a balancing off after the interval. That there was was less surprising than it's immediacy as it took less than four minutes for Romaine Walker to foolishly give the referee the opportunity to issue two yellow cards for what was a trivial tackle.
So the man advantage Saints looked increasingly in need of was lost and Aylesbury continued to pile on the pressure as Saints wilted. But for the incredible work rates of Alan Hedley and Alex Paine, topped by an outstanding performance from Michael Power-Simpson who pulled off a string of wonderful saves. the scoreline could easily have got away from Saints. Ronayne Marsh-Brown pushed forward as Saints pushed for an equaliser but with Scott Fitzgerald fading early in the half there was little threat or danger to the visitors goal until a fine header from Farai Hallam skimmed passed the far post in stoppage time.
Saints: Michael Power-Simpson, Liam Fowler, Ronayne Marsh-Brown, Farai Hallam, Anthony Lennon, Alex Paine, Remmel Clarke (Lewis Cumber 57), Alan Hedley, Terrell Lewis (Davis Haule 75), Scott Fitzgerald (Danilson Vicente 57), Romaine Walker.
Attendance: 75 Star Player: Michael Power-Simpson