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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.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Maidenhead fight back for a point

Almost exactly a year ago, Maidenhead fans sailed back triumphantly over the Solent from Gosport having seen the Magpies win to extend their unbeaten run since the start of the season to five games.
Sadly this proved to be something of a false dawn in terms of prospects for the season, and indeed perhaps a high point in league form with the next win not coming until Boxing Day.
Thus there was plenty to reflect on as the ferry left Portsmouth behind yesterday with the main question being at what point could supporters start to believe that Drax's boys of 2015 would produce a vintage year.
In the last twelve months Gosport themselves had made remarkable progress. Having had their transfer embargo lifted and survived the worst of the winter weather which had left its mark on their Privet Park ground, Borough had gone on to reach the FA Trophy final and romp through their backlog of league fixtures to comfortably avoid relegation.
Over the summer Gosport had overcome the theft of turf purchased to relay their pitch and a Carry on Camping style trip to Guernsey to substantially improve their ground, with the bulk of the investment most commendably being spent on the pitch with the aforementioned turf and a new sprinkler system.
The game itself had been put back seven days in order for the pitch to properly settle in, leaving the Magpies with four games in ten days. Thus it may have been a blessing that Simon Downer was unable to play due to work commitments, giving the influential centre back a rest until the weekend, whilst fresh legs were provided on the bench in the form of Tashan Adeyinka following his long awaited clearance from the Finnish FA. Surprisingly there was no place for Danny Green in the squad, despite the winger travelling down on the team coach, the only changes to the starting eleven being Reece Tison-Lascaris for Lanre Azeez in addition to Jacob Erskine replacing Downer in defence.
Gosport dominated the first half from the kick off with their high tempo, whizz bang style not allowing Maidenhead to settle. Borough should have taken the lead as early as the third minute when following a good save by Elvijs Putnins from Matt Patterson, Paco Saez blasted the loose ball over the bar. 
As the half drew on United were able to make some headway and won a few set pieces around the Gosport penalty area on which they were unable to capitalise. Thus it was frustrating that having weathered the worst of the storm the Magpies went in to the break one goal down. 
Turning over possession in the midfield with four minutes to go, Gosport quickly worked the ball out wide on the right where Saez fired in a textbook cross to Justin Bennett at the far post to tap in the opening goal of the game.
Drax was left to earn his corn in the dressing room at the interval, and the impact of his half time team talk was plain to see as United tore into their opponents from the off, equalising within five minutes.
This time the source of the goal was the left wing with Mark Nisbet and Ashley Nicholls combining to give Tison-Lascaris the opportunity to bundle the ball in at the near post after the cross had fooled goalkeeper Nathan Ashmore with a slight deflection off a defender.
Having got back into the game so early in the half, Maidenhead's tails were up, coming close to a second goal when Tison-Lascaris produced his trademark shuffle to create space on the edge of the penalty area only for his shot to lack the venom to seriously trouble Ashmore.
In a mirror image of the first half Maidenhead dominated the second half but in the end were happy to settle for a point after losing Dave Tarpey to a red card with twelve minutes to a controversial decision by referee Derek Eaton. Tarpey had seemingly won a 50/50 ball cleanly only for his opponent Brett Poate to go to ground having arrived second to the challenge. Eaton dismissed Tarpey without hesitation, but then lost his grip on the game by awarding a succession of free kicks which prompted Gosport's defender Steve Ramsey to ask him whether the man in black was trying to turn the match into a non contact sport.
The Magpies successfully negotiated four minutes of stoppage time to head back north with a record still identical to last season of seven points out of the first nine, to leave them lying a heady second in the table.

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