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, 8 December 2013

A Sketch for Winter

Glad I made a late decision to attend this game yesterday. In the first place an hour of bumping into people wearing novelty Christmas hats and jumpers was all I could take in Central London, but more importantly the game itself was great entertainment, and certainly more wholesome than spending the afternoon in the pub. So I found myself at 2 pm on a train crawling through the South London suburbs accompanied by the wistful guitar musings of Vini Reilly.
With the temperature warm enough to leave my long johns at home, the sun vied with the floodlights to light up a dank and sparsely attended Gander Green Lane. After a great end to last season, and backed by the heavyweight financial resources of manager Paul Doswell it seemed that this season's Conference South title race would be played out between Sutton and Eastleigh, but the Us form has dipped of late leaving them outside the play off places with presumably the sub par Borough Sports Ground crowd of 472 a consequence of deflated expectations.
In selecting his team Drax continued to juggle the squad with their varying levels of fitness, wisely opting to repeat his decision which worked so well at Eastbourne of opting for a back three (Mark Nisbet, Jacob Erskine and Devante McKain) with wing backs Les Thompson and Leon Solomon complementing Daniel Brown, Adrian Clifton and Danny Green in midfield, leaving Richard Pacquette and Michael Malcolm up front.
The extra man in central defence was certainly required in the opening stages of the game as Sutton started strongly, Jamie Slabber showing his intent to continue his role as a thorn in the Magpies' side with an early effort that was tipped round the post by Elvijs Putnins. 
Sutton's early dominance was confirmed in the twentieth minute when inevitably Slabber giving the home side the lead with his amber colleagues virtually queuing up to score. However this was not to prove the cue for a thrashing as Maidenhead played their way back into the game. Within four minutes of going behind Clifton took his time to pick his spot before firing through the defensive line to equalise.
Sutton continued to threaten, Slabber hitting the crossbar with a header just after the half hour mark, but Maidenhead were up for the fight with Pacquette back to his snarling best, bumping the goalkeeper over to leave the moral majority in the covered terrace on the far touchline baying for his blood.
Sutton skipper Jamie Stuart's response to this incident was to indicate that his goalie needed to lead with a combination of his elbow and knee in future so it was ironic that minutes later he found himself on the deck after an aerial challenge with Pacquette. The Referee correctly awarded a drop ball right in front of the covered terrace which sent the moaners into apoplexy, and yet if anything it was Maidenhead who had reason to complain as the game had been stopped with the Magpie attack in full flow.
The game now turned to resemble a boxing match of the footballing kind with both teams trading blows in front of goal in the last minutes ahead of the interval. Firstly Slabber rose salmon like at the far post, hanging in the air to head home at the far post, but any hastily rewritten team talks had to be rehashed once more as Pacquette equalised with the goal of the game.
Receiving the ball outside the penalty area, the striker hit the ball on the half volley. the strike dipping into the back of the net as Pacquette rushed off to collect the plaudits of the covered terrace.
The game changed after the break with Thompson being replaced by Harry Pritchard, and once Craig Dundas had returned the lead to Sutton within six minutes of the restart, the home team took a more conservative approach to the match, working hard to stifle any hope Maidenhead of getting back on level terms for a third time.
Drax's response was to pursue his recent Wengeresque predilection for wingers by introducing loan players Harry Grant and Josh Clarke into the fray, the former appearing for the last time, whilst the latter's debut was characterised by a pleasing tigerish approach to the game.
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Despite a few set pieces Maidenhead failed to seriously trouble goalkeeper Tom Lovelock and so the result eventually ended as expected. So as I made my way back to the scenes of enforced fun in Central London, not much to ponder to the sound of the Durutti Column as Maidenhead continue to vie with Alexander Armstrong for the most Pointless appearances this season. 
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The next three games will be vital for the club's prospects in 2014. With Barrow losing 6-0 at home yesterday, hopes must be high that United can continue to enjoy life away from the league with a third Trophy win in six weeks to progress to the last 16 of the competition. The team will certainly be well rested, travelling up on the Friday with an overnight stay up north ahead of the game. Furthermore the league games either side of this tie present ideal opportunities to get out of the bottom two with opposition in struggling Chelmsford and Tonbridge. The former though will be buoyant after two wins in two games following the wise appointment of Heybridge Swifts manager Mark Hawkes, whilst Maidenhead have lost all three games they have played at Tonbridge's Longmead ground.Time for the team to deliver on their promise of August.

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