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, 29 March 2014

The last cut is the deepest

I expected little from Tuesday's visit from Eastbourne Borough. Already one of my favourite clubs, this season they are the best passing team I have seen and I fully expected them to take the Magpies to the cleaners following United's 6-1 thrashing at Bromley in the previous match, with the added incentive for the play off chasing visitors coming in the way they had been mugged by Maidenhead in our last meeting back in November in the FA Trophy.
Yet within minutes of the kick off Maidenhead served notice that unlike the two games in Sussex in the autumn they would have plenty of opportunities to score, a neat pass from the centre circle finding Harry Grant in the clear only for the young forward to skew his shot wide.
This golden missed opportunity to take the initiative was punished in the seventeenth minute when James Stinson picked up the loose ball in the penalty area to score. Elvijs Putnins, returning to the team after a two game layoff, then made a good save from Frankie Raymond to keep the Rocks within touching distance. 
As half time beckoned United began to threaten to equalise and enjoyed their best period of the game either side of the interval. Richard Pacquette levelled the score with a deft finish on the stroke of half time, and although the striker immediately pulled up with a hamstring injury, his replacement Jonathan Constant was at the heart of Maidenhead'a attacking play when the second half began.
The focus was now on the Eastbourne penalty area with keeper Craig Ross in the spotlight, blocking an Adrian Clifton shot from close range to stop the Magpies completing their comeback. Ross was then involved in the game's pivotal incident, dropping the ball close to his goalline. Constant was first to it but could not apply sufficient power to propel the ball into the empty net enabling a defender to clear off the line.
Relieved by this let off, Eastbourne made Maidenhead pay by retaking the lead with a text book free kick from the right wing, captain Ian Simpemba giving it the eye brows to score just after the hour mark.
Maidenhead's renewed task to equalise was then given fresh impetus by the introduction of Brett Longden, the youngster regularly scheming down the wing. With the force now back with Maidenhead Constant made the scoreline 2-2 with a good finish with only six minutes left on the clock. Longden spearheaded the next attack and unleashed a shot which forced Ross to push the ball wide at full stretch. 
By this stage the force was very much with United and they pushed hard for a winner only to be hit yet again by a sucker punch. Deep into stoppage time Eastbourne broke away down the left, the ball falling to Stacy Long to shoot from just inside the penalty area. His effort seemed to be destined for the side netting, only to hit a bobble on the pitch and skid under the dive of Putnins.
Cue the inevitable crazy touch line celebrations led by Eastbourne manager Tommy Widdrington as once more Maidenhead fell at the final hurdle. This was the hardest of these five defeats to take, primarily due to the fact that for once United were finishing very much the stronger team and if anyone looked likely to grab the points it was the Magpies. However the end result revealed Maidenhead to be the eternal hapless gambler, refusing to settle for a draw, but instead chasing that elusive win by resolutely doubling their efforts to score only to be faced by the inevitable result. With the dandy highwayman of non league football Steve King coming to York Road this afternoon a more subtle approach is required to begin to take advantage of the the 27 points remaining.

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