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.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Farnborough's Day

Farnborough manager Spencer Day (nee Trethewy) may have had a chequered past in football off the pitch but on Easter Monday he showed he knows what's what on it by inspiring his Farnborough team to an inspirational second half performance which saw them overturn a two goal deficit from which there seemed no return.
Day and his management team not only lifted players who must have been at rock bottom, but also made a brave tactical switch to commit more men forward. Faced with a Maidenhead team whose response was to defend a lead in ever greater depth, Farnborough pushed the defensive wall until it cracked to devastating effect, scoring four goals in twenty nine minutes without reply.
This proved to be the key passage in an afternoon of drama which almost never began when the referee expressed serious concern about the fitness of the pitch on arrival at the ground. With the small problem areas mopped up in time for the officials to have a satisfactory kick about at 2 pm, it was game on and the sticky conditions underfoot certainly helped in making the game an entertaining spectacle. Strange to think that this was a problem given that it was not too long ago that grass was  considered an optional extra on non league pitches in the Spring.
With both teams low on confidence and desperate for points to avoid relegation this did not seem a game to savour at face value but as became clear from the kick off, the cavalier attitude shown by both teams would mean it would be something of a classic. Farnborough kicked off and hared straight for goal to create a chance which went wide. It was then Maidenhead's turn to attack, Lee Barney serving notice that he would be a thorn in Farnborough's side with a strong run to force a corner.
It was not long before Farnborough's fragile defence was caught in a Maidenhead attacking blitz which soon led to a two goal lead for the Magpies. On the quarter hour mark, man of the match Martel Powell shrugged off the attentions of a shirt grabbing defender to fire in a cross which found Leigh Henry who diverted the ball goalward. This eluded Barney but fortunately Paul Semakula was waiting at the far post to score. Four minutes later it was Powell's turn to score. A Bobby Behzadi cross was met by an exquisite turn and shot by Barney which could not be held by goalkeeper Craig Bradshaw. Powell was first to the loose ball and slammed it into the back of the net.
Maidenhead went on to dominate the half, Ashan Holgate at last having someone in Barney who was ready, willing and able to sprint on to his deft lay offs. Richard Orlu in particular was made to look out of his depth in defence and at half time everything pointed to a comfortable Maidenhead victory which as things stood would lift the Magpies to sixteenth place.
However Farnborough had other ideas, withdrawing ex Magpie Orlando Jeffrey from the centre of defence at half time to provide a greater commitment to attack. This proved fruitful ten minutes into the half when Nic Ciardini scored but at this stage the game remained open for both teams. Nevertheless Farnborough's desire to get back on level terms was relentless and they gradually pushed the Maidenhead team further and further back until it seemed that there was a line of eight black and white shirts on the edge of the penalty area. Thus many United clearances were only returned back with interest by Farnborough although on the rare occasion that the Maidenhead midfield regained their shape they again threatened to provide the ammunition to score, a Holgate header sending Lee Barney clear only for his weak shot to be collected comfortably by Bradshaw.
The pressure finally told with twenty minutes to go when Phil Page was given the time and space just inside the penalty area to turn and shoot past Billy Lumley to equalise. Maidenhead stuck to their cause, Powell again the inspiration as his strong run saw him pass to Harry Pritchard whose thumping left foot shot was parried by Bradshaw. The momentum was still with Farnborough though and they completed their comeback in the seventy seventh minute in the cruellest of circumstances. A Daniel Bennett shot was pushed behind by Lumley for a corner. Farnborough took this short and quick to give Bennett another go. This time he lashed a cross into the six yard box finding a target in Behzadi who was helpless to stop the ball cannoning off him into the net.
The win was then sealed in style with six minutes left. Again Bennett was in the thick of things being pulled back by Henry. Page stepped up to take the free kick and bettered his earlier goal with a delightful chip to score.
All Maidenhead could do now was to go pell mell in search of a way back into the game. Unsurprisingly it was Powell who offered a lifeline, making a tricky run into the box which saw him fouled. Behzadi converted the penalty as the watch approached the ninety minute mark. Powell again came closest to levelling the score deep into stoppage time with a shot that was blocked and deflected wide by a defender, but it was Farnborough's day. They had seized the initiative at half time with a recognition that a refusal to change would only lead to more of the same, and backed up a revised strategy with renewed enthusiasm and character. This bamboozled Maidenhead who could only offer effort in response which although laudable in terms of commitment to the cause was not enough to prevent a slide into the relegation places. 
Whether the result of this epic game has a greater relevance  will be seen by the end of the month, it certainly provided the ingredients for an escape plan: equal parts ingenuity, nous, energy and character.

1 comment:

Lenny Baryea said...

"Maidenhead went on to dominate the half, Ashan Holgate at last having someone in Barney who was ready, willing and able to sprint on to his deft lay offs"

Why wait until this late in the season to give Barney a chance?