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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, 17 November 2013

Wing Backs of Desire

I see a bad moon rising for Eastbourne
It was Albert Einstein who said that insanity was doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, thus it was a relief that Drax's response to the league defeat down at Eastbourne was to tinker with his squad and formation in the games that followed. This development continued yesterday when the presentation of the team sheet before the game revealed defenders stretching down to number seven.
The mystery over how the team would set up was revealed at kick off as Alfie Mawson, Curtis Ujah and Matt Ruby formed a three man defence, whilst full backs Leslie Thompson and Leon Solomon moved up the pitch to become wing backs alongside a central midfield of Adrian Clifton, Harry Grant and Mark Nisbet, leaving Reece Tison-Lascaris and Richard Pacquette up front.
We got a corner
Thus Drax's plan to combat Eastbourne's high tempo passing by packing the midfield was revealed and immediately paid dividends in a first half of few genuine chances which saw Maidenhead compete on an equal footing with their hosts in stark contrast to the last meeting between the two clubs a fortnight ago.
In Magpie terms this led to frequent substantial territorial advantage which translated into several set pieces, the best of which saw 1950s footballer Leslie Thompson drive into a gap in the penalty area and unleash a ferocious shot which flashed wide of the post.
At the other end the early departure of Curtis Ujah with a knee injury did little to upset the United line up, Mark Nisbet moving back in to his usual defensive role whilst Daniel Brown came on to replace him in midfield.
At half time, Eastbourne manager Tommy Widdrington clearly got to work, as after the break Borough displayed all the vim and vigour shown in their impressive win in the last match. They soon swamped the Maidenhead defence by upping the pace but could not find a clear cut opportunity to score.
The upside of this attacking purpose was that the game opened up and Maidenhead themselves began to threaten once they had weathered the opening storm of the second half. As the game passed the hour mark, a Tison-Lascaris cross went begging for a close range tap in across the face of the goal, then Pacquette split the defence with a ball heading for Thompson who was only denied a shot on target by a well timed tackle from a defender.
It was thus no surprise then when a goal arrived in the 66th minute when a Pacquette cross from the left was bungled by the goalkeeper, Grant being first to the ball to bundle the ball into the back of the net.
This was the cue for the inevitable siege on the Maidenhead goal as Eastbourne gave it the kitchen sink treatment in pursuit of an equaliser. Borough threw everything at the United goal but were unable to fashion a chance to score against a resolute defence determined to defend the team's first lead away from home since September 7th.
As four minutes of stoppage time were signalled, the pressure cranked up another notch and this time it was Elvijs Putnins turn to shine as he flew across his goal to tip a goalbound header over the bar with one hand.
In true cup tie fashion Maidenhead attempted to keep the ball in the corner when they broke out of the Eastbourne half and this was just enough to see the game through to a successful conclusion and the Magpies first win since that glorious trip down to Gosport in early September.
It will be interesting to see if this win has any lasting effect in terms of the team as for me the effective use of wing backs was a key factor in the victory, with Thompson in particular impressing by the way he genuinely played the role of a midfielder supporting the Magpies' attacking moves.
Despite the lack of points at stake,  this win could provide an important lift to the club with draw for the next round on Monday offering the potential of a meeting with any one of the plethora of ex league clubs in the Conference Premier. The win and the prospect of the potential opponents in two weeks time proved enough to send my Twitter time line spinning with activity on the long train ride home and distract me from the bizarre economics of the Southern railway buffet which charges £3.25 for an egg sandwich and only £3.50 for a half litre bottle of Harveys. The challenge is on for First Great Western to do better next week on the trip to Bath.

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