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, 15 April 2012

Cards Top The Pack

The Woking bandwagon rolled into town on Saturday and gave a performance which ended as expected with the Cards crowned Alliance South Champions at the final whistle.
This was no romp to the title though as Maidenhead worked hard to stay in the game and Woking received the rub of the green with their goal.
Woking fans travelled in treble their usual numbers to York Road and were in town early to warm up for the match. As I walked down the station approach I could hear the unique sound of away supporters singing in the Bell and the York Road turnstile queues were soon snaking down the drive. 
This was a day that had been long anticipated in Surrey and so the Cards fans were all set at the Bell Street End ahead of kick off to see another unique event, the visit of the Windsor & Maidenhead mayor Asghar Majeed, who added another layer to the pre match handshaking. I can only hope that he will reflect on the boost to the town's ailing economy that visits by the likes of Woking brings and deem the football club as worthy of support from the council as the rugby club. Still in conversation he did seem more positive about the York Road experience in contrast to the one he has had to endure twice at Stag Meadow.
Following the kick off the game had a edgy start, the sense being that both teams had too much to lose to go hell for leather from the first whistle. Indeed the most interesting thing to observe in the early stages of the game was the wide variety of inflatables bobbing around the Woking end. Having seen Surrey struggle at Lords in the morning session, I was hoping Woking would follow suit with their county cricket club and there was certainly much promise in the way Maidenhead looked to go for goal early on although none of their shots seriously troubled goalkeeper Aaron Howe. 
Maidenhead had of course already beaten Woking twice this season, the Cards one dimensional style being ripe for deconstruction. Just like their closest rivals Dartford, Woking rely on a strong defence which seeks to launch the ball forward to nippy forwards. As the first half reached its midway point Maidenhead dealt with this challenge but the game changed in the 23rd minute when a clumsy challenge from Jon Scarborough saw Giuseppe Sole fall to the floor and win a penalty. Sole himself stepped up to take the spot kick which Billy Lumley saved brilliantly with a one handed save to his right, only for Sole to be first to the loose ball and somewhat cruelly put it between Lumley's legs to score.
The goal lit up the game and showcased Woking at their best as lifted by the crowd they tore into Maidenhead in an attempt to kill the game off with a second score. That they didn't owed much to Sole and Lumley. Firstly Sole failed to convert from point blank range a perfect cross from Paris Cowan-Hall, then Lumley went onto save well from Moses Ademola and Alan Inns. Thus Maidenhead were still in the game at the break and gave it a real go in the second half with Woking seeming to settle for a one goal win.
Nevertheless as Maidenhead had neither the wit nor pace to breakdown the Woking defence, the best scoring opportunities again fell to the visitors, a Joe McNerney effort being cleared off the line whilst Mark Nisbet headed against his own post under pressure from a Woking attacker. So Maidenhead's impotence again ensured another home game without credit, with this particular final whistle carrying the added significance of confirming that Woking would be promoted back to the Alliance Premier as champions.
As the Woking fans poured onto the pitch in celebration, events of twenty years ago were called to mind when Stevenage won the Isthmian League Division One title at York Road to continue their rise up the pyramid which is still going unabated. The changing times which have led to the Alliance Premier becoming a full time professional league mean I doubt Woking will follow this course, and bearing in mind their previous financial struggles will do well to emulate Braintree's successful first season at the higher level.
As for Maidenhead's relegation plight, everything should be clear once Hampton and Havant have played their midweek games, but for the moment an unlikely return to form to collect six points from the remaining two games at play off chasing Dover and at home to Eastleigh seems to be the only option.  I can only hope that some of my luck which saw me win the National from a pick based on the jockey's colours, or more pertinently that which saw Staines line up against a Dorchester team without a recognised goalkeeper yesterday, steers itself Maidenhead United's way.

1 comment:

Lenny Baryea said...

I was told that the Mayor had to ask directions to the ground! Hilarious if true.