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, 27 August 2013

Ebb and Flow

My run of decent away games continued yesterday with a trip to that bastion of non league tradition, Kent. The Javelin train projected me over the Thames in barely quarter of an hour to Ebbsfleet International, where once I had worked out how to leave the station I was presented with the pleasing sight of Stonebridge Road, a ground set against the backdrop of the Thames Estuary which almost looks like its been transplanted from the industrial north rather than grown in the garden of England.
Following a perfect start to the season, Maidenhead’s prospects appeared rosier than Cheryl Cole’s backside, particularly when reflecting on my two previous visits to the ground to see the Magpies play which had seen two wins, the latter with only nine men at the beginning of the season which saw the Fleet promoted.
In the meantime Ebbsfleet has staggered through to the end of the ultimately failed experiment of MyFC ownership to be taken over by a Kuwaiti businessman. This led to an impression of a club still getting to know itself again under new owners. Good points like cheap admission, fairly priced Fleet lager which you could drink on the terrace, mixed with a £3 programme and £500 kit sponsorship. There were also  some odd comments from vice chairman Peter Varney about the lack of money available (in contrast to the relatively vast funds that Ebbsfleet would have available announced in the summer) and manager Steve Brown about the scheduling of games which appear to reflect an unfamiliarity with non league football.
This point was further exemplified by a start to the season which was winless, but with just one defeat by a single goal which again suggests the new team of non league Galacticos is still trying to find its feet.
This was certainly the story of this Bank Holiday fixture, which once Maidenhead had survived the Fleet’s early high tempo bombardment settled down into a tame draw. Based on the initial shock and awe tactics from the home team this was a pleasing outcome for the Magpies who continued to be without full back Leon Solomon and have lost Harry Pritchard for up to two months due to a ligament injury. This saw Tom Gilbey continue at left back whilst Reece Tison-Lascaris moved over to the left wing, Danny Green moving into his favoured right wing slot giving Tony Mendy his full debut up front alongside Richard Pacquette. Also making a first start was Wada Ahmidi who came in for Michael Pook.
I always get worried about playing teams on a winless run as I have the pessimistic outlook that Maidenhead will end it! These fears seemed to be justified from the kick off when in the second minute an Anthony Cook free kick was headed goalbound by Michael Thalassitis which Elvijs Putnins did well to tip around his right hand post. Within in a minute Putnins was called into action again, racing out of his goal to thwart an Alex Osborn effort.
The pressure finally told in the tenth minute when Osborn forced a defensive error allowing him to feed Thalassitis who drove into the penalty area where he was brought down by Putnins in a frustratingly similar position to the one which led to the spot kick against Hayes. Thalassitis made no mistake with his penalty kick to give Ebbsfleet the lead but rather than signal the start of a home team romp it rather proved to be the beginning of the end of Ebbsfleet’s threat as they struggled to maintain their high tempo in the hot weather and second game in 72 hours.
As the game slowed down ‘Fleet’s methodical process of pumping long balls forward became easier to defend and United began to show signs that they could equalise when Richard Pacquette headed a corner down into the ground in text book fashion only for the ball to bounce over the bar. Maidenhead’s goal came three minutes ahead of the break, a lovely pass from Danny Green allowing Reece Tison-Lascaris to time his run to perfection, breaking the offside trap, and then rounding the keeper to score.
After the break Michael Malcolm finally made his bow for the Magpies, replacing the raw Mendy up front. Malcolm had an instant impact, being fed by Green in a great position. The striker lifted the ball over the keeper but also the crossbar.
Ebbsfleet eventually regained their dominance but lacked the quality to break Maidenhead down, the Magpies always maintaining a threat on the counter attack. Johnson Hippolyte then acted to secure the draw by switching to a five man defence when Curtis Ujah replaced Tison-Lascaris, the Magpies seeing out the game with little cause for alarm, the orange shirted Putnins flying across his goal to deal with Fleet’s best chance, a Cook free kick.

Thus the game ended satisfactorily for the Magies with a point on the road against one of the pre season favourites, whilst the Fleet fans looked on from the ominously named Liam Daish stand, possibly wondering what their talented former manager would have done if he had had the Kuwaiti riches to spend.

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