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Question of the WeekWho will win the National League?
Still On the Right Track
By: Andrew Doherty
I'VE travelled past Maidenhead's ground many times on the train. Today's the day to go inside in search of three precious points. I've not been able to go to any of Town's games so far and was excited to be here today finally.
But it's been clear from listening to Radio Humberside and club interviews, and reading supporters' comments that we're heading in the right direction. Maidenhead are at the mid to lower end of the table. They have a good and experienced manager in Alan Devonshire, but really Town were favourites today.
It was a grey and drizzly day in this outer London hinterland. An unending stream of road works and construction greeted supported walking from the station to the York Road ground. Traffic took its turn on the road planner's folly, otherwise known as the one-way system. Maidenhead are known as the Magpies. Not a magpie in sight, a pie maybe but the Bollards would seem to match today's Maidenhead. It's a crumbly old ground but pleasant and friendly, and lovely views of the passing trains if boredom sets in. It's bedecked in black and white, familiar colours to us and those of the home team, whose thin striped shirts were reminiscent of Town's in the late 60s.
With 1576 spectators in attendance, almost half of them being away fans, for the first half Town in light blue kicked towards the noisy wall of supporters behind the goal. The line-up today was: McKeown - Efete, Waterfall, Towler, Crookes - Sousa, Coke, Hunt, Clifton - McAtee - Taylor.
Clifton won a corner after 30 seconds. De Havilland, who you'd imagine would be good in the air, headed clear. Maidenhead responded by hitting the post with a header after a long throw from Barratt. The home side then won a free kick after a McAtee trip outside the box. A corner resulted. Town countered. It was a combative, hard-tackling game. McKeown made a good low save from Adam's before Maidenhead's Acquah missed a header after a good cross from Barrett. Waterfall had to power a header clear after Barratt won a corner. Maidenhead were having most of the play and chances. Town looked to use their speed going forward but were rushed and inaccurate. McAtee found himself forced into a long-range shot. Then after half an hour Sousa managed to cross after a run, winning a corner of Beckwith's knee. Hunt found Efete's head but the powerful strike was just over. Taylor then almost connected with another Sousa cross after a fantastic threaded pass from Efete. As a side plot Maidenhead's Donnellan was booked for time-wasting, resulting in a bit of jolly banter with the Town fans behind the goal. Town had now decided to play. Sousa and Clifton switched round. There was a surge of momentum from Town who won two corners. McAtee won a foul near the corner but for once Hunt's cross evaded everyone. As 2 minutes were added, Maidenhead countered, and Acquah set up Kelly who fired over when one in one with McKeown. But after an unconvincing start Town improved and things were looking better.
Maidenhead started the second half more brightly, winning a corner and a Barratt long throw, which resulted in a spilt shot. Efete was lucky not be penalised for a back pass. A decent long-range effort from Coke was all Town had to offer. While Maidenhead thrived, Town struggled. McAtee won a corner for Town on 58 minutes. The ball came back to Hunt whose thunderbolt shot was well saved. Waterfall then tried a commendable and unexpected overhead kick which went over the bar. Fox replaced Hunt on 68 minutes. Almost immediately after this substitution Waterfall clattered Acquah on the edge of Town's box. Town had gone flat and weren't doing very much. The passing was poor, negating any attempt at interplay. It needed a spark. Clifton provided it, winning the ball in midfield and passing out to Efete on the right. Efete's forward pass to the advancing Cifton was inch-perfect. Clifton crossed. Sousa ran directly onto the cross and volleyed an unstoppable shot past Lovett. Maidenhead 0, Town 1. 73 minutes played. This was great work by Clifton, who showed a sense of urgency and determination just when it was needed. Pearson replaced Sousa as Town played with three central defenders. Town's aim was to slow the game down and clear their lines for the final period. Maidenhead attacked on 83 minutes. Barratt on the right chose to pass back to Donnellan instead of crossing himself. Donnellan sent in a high curling cross over the back of the defence. Ferdinand ran behind the defence and fired a bullet header past McKeown. Maidenhead 1, Town 1. Both sides sought to score the winning goal, but even with four minutes added, the quality was lacking and neither side could make further inroads. Efete overhit a cross, and Town huffed and puffed but the game ended level: Maidenhead 1, Town 1.
Let's face it. We're not going to win every match and we're not going to perform like Brazil every time we play. I don't think we can argue with this result based on the performance. Town had a good spell towards the end of the first half, and the goal we scored was superb thanks to the endeavours of Clifton, Efete and Sousa, but for the most part, our performance lacked quality and composure against a resolute Maidenhead side. On the positive side Waterfall in particular showed great poise at the back for Town against a team who looked to cross and run. So all in all this was ok. From my place in the stand I saw lots of nice green trains, red trains and purple trains. On the pitch, we're in good shape. We're still on the right track.
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