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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, 19 October 2014

Tarpey or not Tarpey. Dave answers the question.

A trip to Concord carried echoes of Maidenhead's past in the Isthmian League where Essex clubs were predominant. With some seasons seeing up to nine clubs from the County in the same division as the Magpies, there were regular dull trips round the M25 to watch a game played at a drab but functional ground with little in the way of atmosphere against a powerful team bursting with pace and strength, with a draw being something of an achievement for United.
These thoughts came to mind as I stepped off the train at Benfleet, faced with a view of the bleak marshes beyond which lay Canvey Island, complementing their Dickensian equivalent on the other side of the Thames Estuary. 
Concord are fast becoming the new Weston-super-mare, comfortably in the top half of the table on merit despite modest resources. A glance at the programme prompts an amendment to this neologism. A better epithet would be that of a new Thurrock, as it was Rangers vice Chairman Grant Beglan who played such an important role off the pitch in taking the Lakesiders from nothing to the brink of the Conference, and is now well on the way to almost repeating the trick with Concord. 
Maidenhead lost both games 3-1 to Concord at opposite ends of last season. The first meeting between the two clubs last September in Essex saw an injury to Richard Pacquette spelling the end of any points for United that day, and sparked an awful run of league run which had hardly picked up by the time of the return fixture in April, when despite playing their third match of the week, Rangers romped to victory at breathtaking pace, leaving United trailing in their wake.
Thus it was no surprise that Drax elected to tinker with his squad to turn out a team able to stifle Concord's attacking endeavours. He did this by fielding loan signing Devante McKain as a defensive midfielder (reportedly this is where Gillingham manager Peter Taylor sees his future), sacrificing the flair of Danny Green and Dave Tarpey, with Adrian Clifton playing in his false nine position, a concession to the more defence minded set up being the deployment of Lanre Azeez and Reece Tison-Lascaris to dovetail any attacking forays with their pace.
This plan worked to the extent that Maidenhead enjoyed the lion's share of the play in the first half but without a cutting edge in the final third, there was little to trouble former Magpie Aaron Lennox in the Rangers goal. By contrast Concord were more ruthless when they had the opportunity, United's player of the 2010-11 season Sam Collins showing how he has matured with age by leaving the left wing he patrolled when at York Road for an influential central midfield role. On this occasion, Rangers wide threat was provided on the right where full back Jeremy Walker had an impressive performance.
It was his pass which started the move for the game's opening goal, with video evidence suggesting Gary Ogilvie was marginally offside when receiving Walker's ball down the right wing, however Lewis Taafe was then allowed to tap in the cross unchallenged at the far post.
The goal on fourteen minutes came slightly against the run of play but as half time approached there was little promise of an equaliser. Hope for Maidenhead came five minutes ahead of the interval when Taafe was sent off for striking Mark Nisbet with his elbow. The decision by the husband of watching official Sian Massey, wasn't contested by Rangers' players or bench, and although there seemed to be no premeditated malice in the incident it was difficult to believe Taafe's protestations as he walked off that he "didn't touch him".
At the start of the second half Drax sought to press home the one man advantage by introducing Green and Tarpey to the fray, sacrificing right back Behzadi for whom Ashley Nicholls filled in, and the more like for like substitution of Azeez.
Unsurprisingly it was Maidenhead who took the initiative from the restart but they faced determined opposition urged on by their manager Danny Cowley crying: "60 minutes gone: we're climbing the mountain". 
The equaliser came in fortuitous circumstances nineteen minutes into the second half. A trademark driving run by Clifton was halted just outside the penalty area. Green's free kick was cleared only a far as Leon Solomon who lofted the ball back into the box. Matt Fry's fluffed clearance found Tarpey whose shot firmly struck the post, again striking the hapless Fry to present Tarpey with a second chance to score which he duly took.
Just when it seemed though that Maidenhead had created a platform from which to push to victory, their advantage of manpower was removed when Tison-Lascaris was dismissed for pushing over Danny Glozier with play already halted for a McKain foul.
After a few minutes Maidenhead regained their rhythm and Tarpey had a good case for a penalty when he was brought down, the referee judging that the foul had taken place on the edge of the area although Tarpey was felled inside it.
The warhorse Clifton was replaced with Jacob Erskine whose physical presence was essential in creating the opportunity for Maidenhead to take the lead in the last minute of normal time. Nicholls combined with Green to send a ball in from the right wing. Tarpey's intial touch sent the ball skyward. At first glance it looked an elementary one for Lennox to catch or even punch clear but he found his path blocked not just by Erskine but two of his own defenders, and the ball bounced once more into Tarpey's path to fire home.
There were however the best part of five minutes of stoppage time remaining, and Concord sprang into life to retrieve the situation. It was Walker again who instigated his team's goal, hitting a long pass into the penalty area which substitute Tony Stokes collected then flicked up to score on the volley with a delightful strike.
Concord then almost had another last word with a shot which flew across the face of Elvijs Putnins goal before the final whistle blew to end a game which neither team deserved to lose nor win.
Celebrating taking the lead in the last minute

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