About Me

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Hammersmith, London, United Kingdom
I'm a director of Maidenhead United Football Club. For ten seasons one of my roles at the club was to produce the match programme. The aim of this blog was to write football related articles for publication in the match programme. In particular I like to write about the representation of football in popular culture, specifically music, film/TV and literature. I also write about matches I attend which generally feature Maidenhead United.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Firing Blanks

A desperate day in Middlesex yesterday with neither teams or even the officials showing the composure in the final third of the pitch to score the goals this game desperately required.
Struggling Hampton had kept just one clean sheet in the league all season, in the corresponding fixture between the clubs at York Road, and whilst Maidenhead did everything but score the result had an inevitability about it. 
A grey day saw me crawl through the rugby traffic in Richmond, the town centre a sea of green plastic thanks to presumably liberal distribution of Irish favours particularly those odd pointy finger things. Sleepy Hampton village felt a world away from the crowds at Twickenham, the homely Beveree being a reminder of quieter times in the Isthmian League. 
Maidenhead fans gathered under the new roof at the far end as the game kicked off hoping for a first Magpie league win here since 1997. One player remained from this match, centre back Darren Powell. Fifteen years ago Powell was an exciting fresh talent bound for the Football League, now he had returned to Hampton to wind down his career.
Games between the two clubs have always been tetchy affairs. Both tend to be at the same end of the table with all the players very familiar with each other. The pitch, tightly wedged in between the terraces seems to create a frenzied atmosphere with a red card being displayed more often than not. In 1997 Powell saw red and history almost repeated itself just before half time when he was booked for an off the ball challenge on Alex Wall. An hour later David Tarpey kicked out and this time the referee felt a dismissal was in order. The game was far from dirty though and instead these incidents reflected the bitty, stop start nature of a contest which neither team was quite good enough to win.
Hampton had the better start to the game firing some testing balls into the Maidenhead area without finding the target. The Magpies first half was hampered by two forced substitutions in the first half an hour but they grew in stature as time went on, Alex Wall hitting the bar with a cross come shot, and Reece Tison-Lascaris scoring only for the referee to frustratingly pull play back for an earlier foul on a United player.
Both teams seemed poised to score, Reece Jones having a long shot tipped over by Billy Lumley so despite the game remaining goalless at half time a promising second period looked to be in the offing with Maidenhead having survived a few close calls looking best set to take the three points.
The second half though essentially mirrored the first. Hampton took charge from the restart, Charlie Moone drawing a great save from Lumley just ahead of the hour mark but as the game entered its final stages, it was Maidenhead who seemed set to score.
In a frenetic six minute spell Maidenhead had four great chances to take the lead. The first saw Alex Wall go clear, his shot was parried by goalkeeper Craig Ross. The loose ball was collected by Manny Williams but with the goal at his mercy he was clearly impeded by a Hampton defender, the ball rolling out for a corner. Despite good views of the incident both referee and linesman saw nothing of note. As the corner swung in, a Maidenhead head met the ball and was goalbound before being scraped off the line by a defender. With the bit between their teeth Maidenhead upped the tempo and in the move of the game Wall headed the ball onto Tison-Lascaris only for the youngster to scuff his shot when well placed to score.
Once this momentum faded though the game drifted to a goalless conclusion, with neither team having the quality up front to earn three points. This will be of less concern to Maidenhead who continue their crawl to safety whilst Hampton are now looking down the barrel of relegation particularly as they will now be deprived for three games of play maker Tarpey.

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