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, 24 September 2013

Magpies in need of a dose of Dr Feelgood

Such is the nature of football that the puffed up feeling engendered by a five match unbeaten start to the season can be swiftly deflated by taking one point in nine in eight days.
The first defeat wasn't exactly unexpected as it came at the hands that could generate plenty of commission for league sponsors Skrill, the current version of "lets throw loads of money at a football club in a meaningless attempt to accrue prestige which is bound to all end in tears" that is Eastleigh.
More or less a year on since manager Richard Hill arrived at Stoneham Lane, the massive investment in playing personnel is starting to pay off for the Spitfires as they looked the part of champions elect in their 3-1 win at York Road.
In the same way that the win at Gosport felt like a Cup tie at a County league club, the visit of Eastleigh resembled a visit from a club playing in a higher division which is not surprising when you read their pen pictures.
The away team set off at a high tempo from the first whistle but fortunately unlike fellow Southern moneybags Ebbsfleet, they did so with some style, matching their pace with some slick passing. As United struggled to keep up Elvijs Putnins was in his element fighting to maintain a clean sheet, diving full length to tip a Stuart Fleetwood free kick around the post.
Then against all odds, and backed by a cow bell liberated from the erm Bell, Maidenhead took the lead as Richard Pacquette applied his usual consummate finish to a lovely pass from Wada Ahmidi. Eastleigh equalised virtually from the kick off, but having smelt blood the Magpies showed no fear in looking to retake their lead, and all but did so when Reece Tison-Lascaris rounded the keeper. As is his wont, the young dasher attempted to stylishly pass the ball into the net which sadly allowed a defender to get across and clear the ball.
Still the point had been made that United were to be no pushovers and made a good fist of it until conceding the lead following a defensive mix up which saw an Adrian Clifton clearance deflected by a team mate into the path of Yemi Odubade to score his second goal. The scoreline then ended up a little unbalanced as Maidenhead pressed for an equaliser allowing Craig McAllister to slip through the defence to pick up a through ball and score the Hampshire club's third. All that was left was for a handful of Eastleigh fans to play out a bit of glory hunting before the final whistle saw United beaten but unbowed.
Spirits remained high as Maidenhead travelled to Canvey Island following a decent point in midweek at Weston-super-mare. This second leg of Magpies in Europe promised much but delivered little on a grey day on the Thames Estuary.
Benfleet for Canvey
Meeting up with the Maidenhead contingent of travelling Magpies in the deserted square mile in preparation for a rare trip out of Fenchurch Street, there was not the same buzz as the first leg in Hampshire, the rather perfunctory transfer into a taxi at Benfleet for the short ride to Concord's Thames Road ground being capped by the sight and smell of a gas terminal across the road from the car park.
Rangers were named after a youth team that used to play adjacent to Concord beach and having only transferred to senior football in 1967, the club should be justly proud at the progress they have made which includes a tidy ground which puts Whitehawk to shame.
Welcome to Concord
The island, cut off from the mainland until a bridge was built in the 1930s, feels like its in Essex rather than of Essex, the predominance of one storey dwellings adding to an aura of otherness wonderfully captured in Julien Temple's fine documentary Oil City Confidential about Dr. Feelgood.
Certainly the support Gosport mustered was lacking with the official crowd of 295 lending itself to an updated version of the rumour about Thurrock counting its hotel residents in the attendance, in this case it may have been the residents of the (im)mobile homes overlooking one touchline.
The game itself saw the home team in charge throughout as Maidenhead struggled under the burden of injuries to Mark Nisbet, Curtis Ujah, Wada Ahmidi and Harry Pritchard which led to full back Leon Solomon moving to the centre of defence. It was good to see Sam Collins back in action in the Concord midfield, and it was his corner which led to the game's opening goal when his ball to the far post saw Putnins make an uncharacteristic slip allowing Sam Higgins to poke the ball home from close range.
The goalkeeper soon redeemed himself with a great save which spurred the Magpies onto equalise, the mercurial Danny Green travelling forward before releasing the ball to Tison-Lascaris who scored with a shot which deflected off a defender.
A tiring comeback
After the break Maidenhead almost took the lead when Bobby Behzadi ran half the length of the pitch before unleashing a shot from distance which was tipped round the post. From here on in though it was all down hill for the Magpies. Firstly Higgins was given too much time and space in the penalty area to double his tally and return the lead to Rangers then a double injury to Matt Ruby and Pacquette saw United denuded of key players at either end of the pitch.
With a defence now made up of three full backs and Daniel Brown, Maidenhead were opened up twice more, Leon Gordon scoring the goal of the game with a finish from a tight angle on the right wing before Steve King completed the scoring with a free header at the far post.This left Drax a growing injury list ahead of next Saturday's cup tie with at least a blank week to allow for some recovery. Likewise off the pitch some were feeling the pace with Mr Logic clearly not fully fit on his comeback after missing the first leg in Gosport whilst Popejoy was reported missing last seen in the Paddington area late on Saturday night.
View from the clubhouse

Behind the goal

Cross pitch

The Far Corner 

Looking toward the club house

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