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, 7 September 2014

Magpies headed onward by Upward

Rather brighter and more importantly drier weather accompanied Maidenhead's visit to Staines yesterday. Fortunately the Magpies' good 21st century record at Wheatsheaf Park persisted with a 2-1 win despite the absence of United talisman Dave Tarpey.
Of greater importance was evidence that lessons had been learned from last week's failure to beat ten men, as Maidenhead won more comfortably than the result suggested.
This outcome seemed far distant when Staines were gifted a lead in the third minute when Louie Theophanous took advantage of a defensive mix up to skip into the penalty area and score. The goal raised fears that Maidenhead's defensive frailty of last season had re-appeared but within four minutes the Magpies were back on level terms when an Adrian Clifton shot hit the back of a net helped by a deflection from a defender.
At the kick off I initially scoffed when someone asked if the game was a local derby but the niggly nature of the game suggested that this might be the case, perhaps reflecting the West London origins of a lot of the personnel from both clubs. The referee, who spent the afternoon distributing cards like a postman at Christmas, had already put a few Staines names into the book when the main talking point of the game occured with twenty minutes gone.
The incident which led to two red cards, appeared to start innocuously when Reece Tison-Lascaris chased  hard in vain to keep the ball in play. When his mission finished in front of the Maidenhead dug out, Drax went to retrieve the ball only for Sanchez Ming to wrestle it off him. Given the proximity of both dugouts the sterotypical bout of handbags was inevitable and when the pushing and shoving had stopped the referee dismissed Drax from the dug out. After much discussion and pointing to the tunnel it became clear that the referee was to be as merciless with Ming and so for the second weekend in a row Maidenhead's opposition was to be reduced to ten men for the majority of the match.
Initially the dismissal fired up the home team, Elvijs Putnins having to be a full stretch to paw away a Chris M'Bongou header. In the ten minutes ahead of the break though, Maidenhead gained the upperhand, thanks to someone lovely passing in the midfield around the fulcrum of Clifton. Time and again he combined with Tison-Lascaris to create a handful of chances before the break, although goalkeeper Jack Turner was not seriously tested.
Maidenhead continued in similar fashion after the interval, helped by Staines' manager Marcus Gayle's decision to ignore Ming's absence and go with three at the back. This enabled Tison-Lascaris, and later his replacement Lanre Azeez, to exploit his freedom on the left wing on a regular basis, but having danced their way into the penalty area, neither player could quite make the breakthrough to score. Another source of forward movement was Danny Green, whose performance approaching his form of last season.
All this was set against a rapidly deteriorating performance by the man in black who waved away two decent penalty shouts from Clifton and Green, and with his erratic decisions regarding the issue of cautions almost saw the game slip out of his control more than once in the second half.
Maidenhead came closest to taking the lead, just ahead of the hour mark when a Clifton shot from distance was spilled by Turner, Stefan Brown missing the opportunity to fire home the loose ball. 
The introduction of Ryan Upward provided some fresh legs in the Maidenhead midfield, helping United to wear down their opponents by keeping the ball, at one point encouraging a few shouts of "Ole" from the travelling support. Upward then reinforced his impact by heading in what proved to be the winner at the far post from a Green free kick eighteen minutes from full time.
Maidenhead then could and should have extended their lead to a more comfortable margin of victory. Substitute Tashan Adeyinka let fly with a spectacular shot  which Turner punched away, and then in stoppage time couldn't quite apply the finish to s swift counter attack. Sadly the only notes for the record books in the last ten minutes were yet more bookings.
So three deserved points for the Magpies against a Staines team which surprisingly seems to have lost the steely discipline which saw them emerge as play off dark horses last season.


Geoff Selvidge said...

'just as merciless with Ming' - love it Steve, well done!

Steve said...

Cheer Geoff, about 10 years ago Maidenhead signed Bermuda international Damon Ming. He was a striker so I was ever ready poised with a Ming the merciless headline. Needless to say he never scored.