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.

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Can we play here every week?

The approach to Woking's Kingfield stadium could not have been any more different to that of Maidenhead's last destination of Holker Street, Barrow. Over 300 miles separated the two, the latter a stereotypically grim northern industrial town whilst Woking is the epitome of leafy suburbia. Indeed there was a spring in my step as I wandered through the park en route from the station to the ground as I remembered the excellent results achieved by the Magpies against the Cards in recent years, which added to last season's draw at Kingfield against today's opponents Hayes & Yeading United is part of a six game, thirty year unbeaten run on this ground.
Reaching the car park, the home of Westfield FC came into view, set against the backdrop of Woking's anomalous big stand. Windsor & Eton were the visitors to the Combined Counties league club, twenty years on from when the Royalists last visited York Road for a Christmas fixture, the last time both clubs shared the same league status (Isthmian League Division One). Despite the juxtaposition of the Royal Borough's rival clubs there was no need for kick offs to be moved or local police leave to be cancelled with the combined crowd barely challenging the figure at York Road that day.
Hayes' continued presence at Kingfield shows no sign of ending as their sorry tale of a botched relocation continues, the attendance of 159 being slightly above the average for the season. In this context it was surprising to read Phil Babb's manager's notes speaking of pushing for promotion, given the rumours about the size of the Kingfield rent.
The corresponding fixture at York Road in August had been Maidenhead's last home win until Boxing Day, and as the long suffering Magpie fans are used to, that opening run of six games without defeat have at last been followed by a similar run of four from mid December, with the last three games all won.
Today's victory was founded on a first half display in which Maidenhead could have been accused of profligacy in only going into the break two goals to the good. In an open first half Maidenhead took the lead in the fifth minute when a searching cross from left back Leon Solomon found Richard Pacquette at the far post to apply a textbook header into the back of the net. Six minutes later Pacquette turned provider, flicking on a long ball with his head to put Reece Tison-Lascaris through on goal, only for the returning winger to scuff his shot wide. Tison-Lascaris had replaced Harry Pritchard in the Maidenhead line up, the other change from Boxing Day being Matt Ruby for Jacob Erskine in central defence after the attacker turned defender had picked up a knock in the win against Staines.
With Maidenhead finding it easy to make their way through a porous Hayes' defence, the home team were also able to cause problems at the other end, with Elvijs Putnins' knee injury clearly hampering his movement as he failed to collect a couple of crosses cleanly. These errors went unpunished and it was soon time for Tison-Lascaris to atone for his earlier miss. He was about to go clear again when pulled back by a Hayes defender, the referee generously adjudging that the offence took place outside the penalty area and only being worthy of a yellow card.This mattered little to Danny Green though who stepped up to deliver a perfect free kick which beat the despairing dive of goalkeeper Jamie Young to double the Magpies' lead.
Maidenhead could and should have sealed the points before half time, Pacquette making a mess of an opportunity to double his tally when he dollied up a one on one chance into the arms of a grateful Young, the half closing with Hayes going close to grabbing a goal back.
After the break the game looked to continue in a similar fashion, but as the half drew on Hayes gained the upper hand as Maidenhead defended in ever greater depth with ever fewer counter attacking opportunities. The introduction of substitutes Pritchard and Bobby Behzadi did little to alleviate the pressure which eventually told with four minutes remaining when Kamaron English pulled a goal back with a fine finish.
The announcement of five minutes of stoppage time raised the spectre of a late comeback but it was Pritchard who came closest to scoring with a shot that Young pushed wide for a corner. The final whistle soon followed to signal what will be a rare double for the Magpies this season, although New Year's Day presents another opportunity for a second win over Staines. With most of the other struggling teams picking up points, leading to Maidenhead actually dropping a place in the table, something approaching New Year's Day 2013's 6-0 win at Wheatsheaf Lane will be most welcome.

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