About Me

My photo
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, 6 April 2014

Magpies Strike It Lucky

Much is made of luck in football, good or bad, the rub of the green, our day/their day. Its what makes football such a great spectacle, the sheer unpredictability a joy to confound those who believe everything should conform to probability. Personally I believe its not luck that's important, its taking advantage of it when it presents itself that matters, usually in the form of a mistake from somebody else. In essence luck is an unexpected opportunity either that you create for someone else by your mistake, or visa versa, and is then exploited mercilessly, hence Geoffrey Boycott's oft repeated axiom "its not good luck its good skill".
Certainly all five goals at York Road yesterday were arguably down to luck in a greater or lesser form on a wonderfully bizarre afternoon in Maidenhead. This began when I walked out of Maidenhead station to the strange sight of a group of Sutton United fans getting into a taxi. I hope the driver took them round the town a few times to make them feel it was worth it. A pre match pint was then enlivened by a passing group of Hare Krishna devotees which stiffened my resolve to be happy whatever happened.
Despite two wins in a week I expected nothing from a game which if Sutton won, they could go top of the league. The Us have somewhat gone under the radar thanks to the ostentatious spending of Eastleigh, but when you consider that even with five first choice players out they could field the likes of Jason Brown (Welsh international), Simon Downer, Dean Sinclair and Jamie Taylor who would all be at home in a higher division, and throw in the fact that their training schedule leads some to view them as a full time club, they are just a much spending their way to promotion as the Spitfires.
Sutton's superiority was clear to see in the first half although Maidenhead's continued attempts to drive forward up the York Road slope showed they had a puncher's chance of getting something from the game if they could stay in touching distance of the Us. With a temporarily three sided ground squeezing the crowd together to improve the atmosphere, a cracking match ensued which called to mind some legendary wins of yore.
The pattern of the game revealed itself within the first ten minutes. With not much more than sixty seconds on the clock Adrian Clifton positioned himself well in the opposition penalty area only for his cushioned header to go straight to Brown in the Sutton goal. Brown's opposite number Jonathan Henly was soon called into action making a flying save from a Charlie Clough header. This provided only temporary respite for the Magpies as Sutton's next attack was launched by a huge kick forward from Brown which surprised the Maidenhead defence with its directness. Taylor though was alive to the possibilities presented by the long ball and skillfully collected the ball on the edge of the area before turning to strike the ball home.
The lead gave Sutton the impetus to set up camp in the Maidenhead half and the benefit of their extra training was clear to see as they moved the ball around with strategic purpose. The Magpies hung in there though and as the half drew on with no further score, began to find renewed belief in their ability to equalise. Reece Tison-Lascaris proved himself to be a real thorn in the Sutton defence, almost hitting the target with a lob from the left which beat the keeper but did not quite have enough dip, landing on the roof of the net. 
In the last minute of the half Harry Pritchard made even more ground down the left flank cutting into the penalty area before unselfishly squaring the ball to his namesake Harry Grant to score. So far then a repeat of the game at Gander Green Lane in December with Maidenhead hanging on against the odds.
Little changed after the break, until Sutton inevitably restored their lead midway through the second half. It was Taylor again who scored, a stinging strike confounding an unsighted Henly, the ball also seeming to take a deflection en route to goal.
Going behind provided the spark Maidenhead needed, and within four minutes they were back on level terms. From a set piece, the Magpies broke the offside tap, Mark Nisbet ignoring the protests of the Sutton defence and then rubbing salt in their wound by helping the ball on with arm before squaring it to Danny Green who finished with his customary efficiency. The Sutton rattleometer was racing upwards now, Brown trying to get the game stopped due to what looked like a dropped eyelash. Sensing their opportunity Maidenhead continued to attack, Tison-Lasacaris picking the ball up in his own half then out running the defenders only for his shot to hit the side netting. The youngster was soon replaced by Richard Pacquette and as the game entered the twilight zone of five minutes remaining there was little chance the scoreline would remain unchanged.
With two minutes left Pacquette found himself well positioned on the edge of the penalty area and played in his fellow substitute Jonathan Constant. His shot was deflected wide by a defender for a corner which was quickly taken and was delivered to Green who put his head down and went for a goal hitting the ball home at the near post from an unfeasibly tight angle.
Staring defeat in the face Sutton threw everything at Maidenhead in stoppage time but for once the boot was on the other foot and the Magpies could sit back and watch the frustration of conceding a late winner on the face of their opponents for a change.
Nine points in a week now gives the Magpies a fighting chance of beating the drop. I have a feeling though that one club is going to go down with rather more points than is usual. The position should be a lot clearer next Sunday after a week of crucial games.

No comments: