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, 2 December 2012

City Slicker

One of the constant facets of league football is the ability of lowly teams to up their game when the top of the table side comes to town. Some may feel frustration at the way sides can display hitherto rarely seen depths of energy and creativity but in truth this is purely a natural reaction to the challenge of playing the current number one.
The simple motivation of trying to knock the top boys off their perch is usually enough to produce a tight contest, and yesterday was no different, undoubtedly helped by the usual Conference fixture quirk of the corresponding match in Wiltshire taking place less than a month ago. That game ended in Maidenhead successfully holding out under great pressure to earn a point, meaning both teams had something to prove at York Road.
For once Drax had more than one choice in his attacking options, choosing the re-signed loanee Chris Flood and Reece Tison-Lascaris on the flanks ahead of Lee Barney and Harry Pritchard, whilst Alex Wall got the nod to start alongside David Pratt in the middle. However it was the defence which came under the spotlight in the opening stages with an early Salisbury blitz on the Maidenhead goal. This showed the Magpies had lost none of their resolve from the first game, withstanding the pressure to keep the scoresheet blank, Jesse Joronen making one fantastic fingertip save to deny James White.
As the half went on Maidenhead began to develop an attacking threat of their own exploiting the space behind the right side of City defence but the Magpies could not quite set themselves to challenge goalkeeper Will Puddy to emulate his doppelganger Joe Hart from several promising positions. When the fresh faced Puddy was called into action though he supported his side's title winning ambition with a superb save to tip a shot from distance by Michael Pook around the post five minutes ahead of the break. A save all the more creditable after the ball took a slight deflection off Wall en route to goal.
This effort seemed to boost United's confidence and they started the second half boldly pushing forward only for Salisbury to score the only goal of the game six minutes after the kick off. For all the impressive play of both sides, the goal was a simple affair, a whipped in cross from the left by James Clarke being met by captain Brian Dutton at the far post to power a header home. This had the effect of rousing the sizeable Salisbury support from their impeccably observed first half silence.
The goal did not change an open game, both sides giving their all for another. Both sides enjoyed spells of attacking pressure but with Maidenhead unable to capitalise on a series of corners, the closest to an equaliser was a Pritchard effort from close range which Puddy managed to get just enough of his body on to stop the ball trickling over the line.
At the other end the speed with which Salisbury counter attacked was a constant threat to the Maidenhead defence but the one golden chance which presented itself to City was volleyed over by White with the goal at his mercy.
Thus the final result reflected the teams' relative league positions and confirmed Salisbury's status as the team to beat this season. Their decision to train full time seems to be paying off this season as the speed and quality of the passing and movement means they are the best team I have seen in the division this season. As they are out of both national cup competitions I see no reason why they won't regain their Alliance Premier status which they lost for financial irregularities not so long ago. Maidenhead now hover precariously one place above the relegation zone, as with the previous two seasons their fate will lie in their ability to take points from the teams around them by displaying the hard work and desire that was in plentiful evidence yesterday afternoon.

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