About Me

My photo
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 10 February 2013

Wall dogs Essex boys again

Was over the moon just to be able to go to a Saturday football match again yesterday after bad weather and illness had kept me housebound for the last month. Despite the hyperbolic pre match assertion from the Advertiser that this was a must win game for Maidenhead, I would have been more than happy with a draw as I felt it was more a case of "must not lose" to a Billericay team who have struggled to make the transition to Conference South football and like United were mired in the morass which has seen as many fourteen teams consistently fail to remove the threat of two defeats potentially leading to the opportunity to knock boots with Truro City in the bottom three. As things stand there are so many clubs involved in the scrap to avoid filling the other two relegation positions its clear nothing will be settled for a while with United's return fixture at Billericay on the final day of the season likely to carry more weight.
As it happened, perhaps because of rather than in spite of the sticky dog that is the York Road pitch, the match almost turned out to be as thrilling as my last visit to York Road on the first Saturday of 2013. Coincidentally this was also against opposition from Essex and watched in the presence of Charlie the dog who must be sniffing at moans about Maidenhead's poor home form as he now boasts a record of attended two won two at York Road.Once again it was Alex Wall who proved to be the key man for the Magpies, but this was a more rounded performance than the one against Chelmsford as the striker, despite being up front on his own for most of the game, showed his value not just as a goalscorer but also as a player prepared to go out wide looking for the ball to provide opportunities for his team mates.
Wall's presence was felt from the kick off as he inspired an opening Magpie onslaught that was unfortunate only to finish in a one goal lead. Within three minutes the stage was set for him to continue his recent run of scoring from a free kick, a thumping drive being blocked somewhat unwittingly by goalkeeper Sam Beasant. I suggested to his dad Dave that this was a good save, his only response was "good strike" but minutes later Beasant Junior showed rather more intention with a save at full stretch from a second Wall effort from the edge of the penalty area. By the eighth minute though Wall was determined not to be denied, this time taking the ball around Beasant to slot the ball into an empty net. Wall almost got the opportunity to double the lead soon after only for top map reader Chris Wild to get just enough on a Chris Flood cross to nick the ball away from the striker.
Maidenhead's rampage now ran out of steam and it was Billericay's turn to assert their rather ugly imprint on the game. In a style that would have met with the approval of former crazy gang member Beasant senior, the ball continued to be pumped into the United penalty area at every opportunity with the long throws of Wild ensuring there was no let up in the pressure. These attacks were invevitably accompanied with a background of outrage from the good travelling following behind the goal, as they vainly appealed for a foul at the merest hint of a  Magpie transgression.
Billericay were characterised by the ugly sisters of Rob Swaine and Wild in the centre of their defence. Two mountains of manhood, forthright in their views about the shortcomings of everyone including their teammates, and invariably involved in most of the games key incidents.In Wild's case this included a case of indecent exposure when he changed his shorts on the touchline. It was then the turn of the ardent Swaine to make his mark, heading the equaliser from a corner after Billy Lumley had tipped Dave Collis' free kick over the bar on the half hour mark.
It was now very definitely game on and although it was Maidenhead who were the better team on the ball, Billericay looked more threatening, Jay May running clear to draw a great save from Lumley, Paul Semakula capping a dire afternoon spent mostly moaning at the referee by firing the loose ball into the side netting seventeen minutes into the second half. It was at this point that Drax opted to change Maidenhead's shape bringing on David Pratt to support Wall up front.
Although the score remained deadlocked the heavy going underfoot and the attacking intention of both teams meant more goals were on the way, particularly when Town were forced to bring on Antone Douglas at right back, a player for whom the Billericay bench looked to be the height of his potential. The first to strike were Maidenhead who regained their lead with thirteen minutes left when Michael Pook swung a corner in from the left which was flicked on by Pratt at the near post to Wall who took advantage of his freedom granted by a sleepy left back to sweep the ball home. Yet given the history of this fixture more goals were due, it was simply a question of which memory would be evoked? Would it be one of John Watt defiantly punching the air after Mark Harrison salvaged a deserved point in December 1995, or the despair of Alan Devonshire when Billericay scored twice in stoppage time to steal a win in December 2000?
Billericay staked their claim to posterity with four minutes left when in between appeals for a penalty Town concluded a goal mouth scramble successfully when May put the loose ball in the back of the net to equalise. Still neither side settled for a point and as the clock ticked into injury time Lumley launched the ball forward to Wall on the left who played a lovely pass to put substitute Reece Tison-Lascaris in the clear, the young substitute curling in a delightful finish which saw the ball beat the keeper then arc into the corner to nestle in the back of the net to the cheers of the Bell Street end.
Three points for the Magpies was a fair reward for their continued attacking endeavour perpetually inspired by Wall although Billericay will feel hard done by having worked so hard to get back on level terms twice. The result may have lifted United up to eleventh but the key statistic remains the number of points above third bottom which still remains uncomfortably small enough for Billericay who now lie twenty first to have plenty of hope of survival.

No comments: