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, 3 March 2013

Winning Isn't Everything

A philosophical title to this blog post, provided by the excellent Welling United fanzine, and inspired by a magnificent game of football when for a change Maidenhead were on the wrong end of an injury time winner.
Park View Road is a ground I always look forward to visiting with its mixture of terracing and stands old and new. The sunshine that greeted us as we alighted the train at Welling station made it a brighter than usual walk down the High street and with plenty of time to spare we popped into the pub next to the ground, Guy, Earl of Warwick. Despite a growing football crowd inside, the rock music blasting out within prevented prematch conversation so after spotting the Maidenhead United Saltire in the away end at Ibrox on TV we moved into the ground.
At the club gate I was pleasantly surprised to see the aforementioned fanzine on sale, a bargain at a £1 as it contained The Wingsaurus, an A-Z guide to Welling United who are celebrating their fiftieth anniversary this year. Moving into the bar I flicked through its pages whilst drinking Welling United lager, very drinkable at £2.50 a pint. Amongst the references to the luminaries of the Wings past such as Andy Townsend and Tony Agana, there was a reference to my first visit to Park View Road, an FA Cup second round replay against Reading in 1989. This was a typically rambunctious affair with the home crowd serenading Reading striker Steve Moran with a reminder of an off the field incident. I was in the away end, with access gained by walking across the adjacent cricket pitch then handing a paper ticket to a man standing in a gap in the fence. In the good old days of unlimited replays there was not conclusion to the tie with a twice taken Reading penalty in front of the away end meaning I was on South East news the next morning. In the previous round I had travelled with Reading to Twerton Park to see them play Bristol Rovers so I pondered the fact that twenty plus years later I have now been to both venues many times with Maidenhead United, reflecting both Bath and Welling's slip from the highest echelon of non league football and the Magpies rise from the depths of the Isthmian League.
Despite Welling's overnight elevation to the top of the table with games in hand due to another off the pitch deduction for Salisbury City, I was quietly confident about the Magpies' prospects as not only were they six games unbeaten but have also turned in a few decent displays on this ground.
This confidence was justified by a first half performance which saw Maidenhead go deservedly into the break one goal to the good. Billy Lumley had been largely untroubled by Welling's attacks which were generally confined to long shots from distance which went wide. Maidenhead on the other hand shrugged off the loss of Alex Wall, with the dynamic David Pratt moving into the Luton bound striker's central role serving notice that he would be a persistent thorn in the Welling defence in the sixth minute when he collected a Harry Pritchard cross from the left and fired in a shot that went narrowly past the post.
Pratt's battle royale with centre backs Ben Martin and Anthony Acheampong continued all afternoon with Pratt drawing blood just ahead of the interval. As the final minute of the half drew to close a high ball from left back Bobby Behzadi found Chris Flood in the midfield, who carefully trapped the ball then found Pratt with a pass. The striker turned Martin then slotted in an exquisite shot which beat the keeper then curled inside the post.
So it was job done at half time and time to ponder on Twitter who composer Edward Elgar supported. Stuart Maconie plumped for Wolves but surely Elgar would have been a regular at St. George's Lane home of Worcester City? There was no rush to decide as during the break the match referee has declared himself unfit and there was a worrying delay whilst announcements asking for a replacement from the crowd were repeated. Fortunately someone came forward to run the line and performed admirably in contrast to his Sunday League appearance.
It was clear that Welling would produce a fearsome response in the second half and almost immediately Lumley produced a good save from a Scott Kinch header. He was soon beaten however as Maidenhead's perennial achilles heel, the far post header, produced an equaliser, Martin atoning for his earlier error by heading home from a Jack Obersteller corner.
Maidenhead's unbeaten run has been characterised by their resilience so it was no surprise that they took the goal on the chin and set about re-taking the lead. A thirty yard Flood free kick was pushed wide by Sam Mott in the 62nd minute but the source of the goal three minutes was somewhat unusual. There was no surprise in the goalscorer, Pritchard, but the fact that he was the corner taker stunned everyone in the ground as the ball sailed into the box before swinging into the net in the far corner along with the goalkeeper and two defenders. 
With neither side ready or able to settle for a point the game continued as before with plenty of goalmouth action at either end. Lumley again being called into action to save well to prevent Kurtis Guthrie from adding to his three goals scored against the Magpies for Bath back in August.
There were fifteen minutes left on the clock when Lee Clarke again exposed Maidenhead's defence to head home, this time from an Obersteller free kick on the right hand touchline. 
This set up a tumultuous climax to the match, Lumley making sure he wouldn't be caught out by a cross by tipping one over the bar in the  final minute. There was plenty of stoppage time for a winner though but this time it wasn't to be Maidenhead as Pratt's charge forward ended with a shot which Mott parried but crucially took all the pace off the ball to allow a defender to clear before Reece Tison-Lascaris could pounce on the loose ball. It was then Maidenhead's turn to fall for a three card trick as another free kick from the right to the far post, this time from inside the Magpies' half led to a goal. Appropriately this was delivered by player manager Jamie Day and it caused chaos in the penalty area, the ball bobbling around until Jake Gallagher poked it into the net.
There was still time for Maidenhead to attempt to replicate this goal but the Welling defence held firm for a victory which confirmed their credentials as title contenders due to their refusal to be beaten, whilst Maidenhead can take much heart from this post Wall performance as there appear to be plenty of goals in the team to ensure they cross the safety line sooner rather than later.

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