READING Abbey staged a thrilling late recovery at a windy Ostler’s Field, but it wasn’t quite enough to overcome an impressive Aylesbury side who won their Southern Counties North encounter 31-29.

The visitors trailed 31-15 after an hour, but two converted tries from centre Olly Walton brought them to within two points of the home score.

Abbey even had the chance to steal a late victory, but Walton’s superbly struck penalty three minutes from time shaved the outside of a post and went wide.

Earlier on, the hosts missed a straightforward penalty of their own to take the lead, and it was Abbey who broke the deadlock when Max Courtnage powered over. Walton converted to make it 7-0, with the away side also having a numbers advantage after Kaseem Olayinka was sin-binned before the try was scored.

Aylesbury hit back, however, and opened their account when No. 8 Gary Horne went over at the back of a scrum. James Woodfall was again off-target from the tee, leaving Abbey two points in front at the end of the first quarter.

The hosts moved further in front courtesy of a try from full-back Sam Page, before centre Nicky Mercer – taking over the kicking duties – converted his own score to make it 17-7.

To their huge credit, Abbey went on the attack at once, and they dominated the final minutes of the half, reducing the deficit to five points as the half time whistle sounded thanks to a Chris Shaw try.

The second half could not have started in a worse fashion for the visitors, however, as Horne galloped clear to the line for his second try of the game.

Mercer’s conversion put Aylesbury 24-12 ahead, but again Abbey counter-attacked with spirit and Walton landed a penalty.

The hosts grabbed their fifth try of the afternoon when Charles Plowman crossed the whitewash, but from there, Abbey responded heroically.

Walton converted two tries of his own to cut the gap to 31-29, but his penalty with three minutes remaining shaved the outside of the post and Aylesbury hung on for victory.

Abbey take two deserved bonus points from an entertaining match and now sit comfortably in seventh place ahead of a home game with Bicester on Saturday.