Who Said Magpies Were Unlucky?

MAIDENHEAD UNITED – 2    [O’Connor 19.p89.]  SUTTON UNITED – 2    [Corbett 53. Honey 69.]

CONFERENCE SOUTH | Att: 301

With the disappointing second half on Saturday condemning us to an opening day defeat, the crew headed out to Maidenhead hoping for better things at this first midweeker of the new season. Besides, like someone who knows the doorman at a club getting someone you know who looks a bit pissed up in, surely the Magpies will remember the big ol’ favour we did ‘em back in April by demolishing their rivals for that vital 13th and final qualifying place that got you entry to the new shiny Conference set up?

Naaah, we didn’t think so either.

I find Chalmers & Bob in the pub upstairs at Paddington. Windy & Dave are going by car from back in Sutton, with Greek doing mortgage related stuff, he’d be absent from tonight’s festivities. Still, there’s time for a couple of quick pints and a raid of Sainsbury’s sandwich selection before we’re off to York Road.

Now, Maidenhead as a team might not be looking to do us a favour tonight by way of thanks, but one of their lads certainly is. Having kept the Magpie army informed of events at the Camrose by text message that day, I’ve not only earned myself a pint, but it also seems a mention in the programme is warranted. I mean, cheers and all lads, but not sure it deserved such a spotlight!

JR must have read our minds with regards to what was ‘wrong’ with Saturday’s performance as he’s strangely made exactly the changes we wanted him to! Brake, Howard & Martin all drop to the bench, with Booth, Boosey & Kennedy all getting the start their bright substitute appearances deserved.

Unfortunately, for the first few minutes after kicking off, we look a little sluggish and after 6 minutes, ex-Magpies ‘keeper Wilson is in action for the first time. A ball down the left sees Akuamouah attempt to cut out but he only succeeds in flicking the ball on for an opponent. He cuts in and fires a shot in that Wilson pushes away for a corner.

Our first sight of goal comes from a ball forward that Joff flicks on. Boosey in support collects and tries his luck, but the shot is pulled comfortably wide of the far post. Our next effort a minute or so later is more promising.. A lot more promising! Matt Gray driving a corner in from the left and picking out the darting run of Fear at the near post. His guided header beats the ‘keeper hands down, but thumps back off the inside of the far post and is hacked clear.

Another corner from the causes some concern shortly after, with the Maidenhead defence only half clearing. Kennedy collects & finds Honey. But his driven shot is straight at the ‘keeper. This relatively bright start all goes tits up though with 19 minutes played as the defence commits hari kari, conceding a goal so ridiculously awful there’s really no words I could think of to describe it. But I suppose as I’m writing about this shit, I should probably at least have a bash.

A ball forward drops to Corbett, but his attempted clearance is just sliced up into the air. Booth tries to cover, but under pressure from an attacker, his attempted header back to Wilson is at a stretch and loops towards goal. Off his line, the U’s ‘keeper does well to backpedal & touch the ball onto his cross bar, but of course we’ve not covered and it drops to the Magpies no10, O’Connor and he nods into the empty net from almost on the line, completely unmarked natch.

As terrible, self inflicted goals go and we’ve had a few down the years, this one’s a real cracker.

This dreadful moment seems to knock our confidence and we spend the rest of the half failing to play any football at all, pumping long balls forwards aimed at Joff, who is being well marshalled by their equally big no5. In fact, most of our clearances fall into 2 basic categories. Firstly there’s the ‘hit Joff’ one I’ve just mentioned and there’s then the ‘ooops, I’ve shinned it no more than 10 yards straight to an opponent’ variant.

We also fail miserably to exert any serious pressure on the home side’s defence, who have as much time as they want to play the ball calmly between each other. But, despite this, there’s only one real moment of worry during the rest of the half. We win a rare free-kick in the Maidenhead half. Fear does the honours & swings it in, picking out Bradley Thomas. But his header lacks power, the ‘keeper claims and immediately sets up a swift counter attack with a quick throw out. The initial thrust is down the centre, but is forced out the right. With no cover, Wilson gambles and goes flying out to the right to challenge the advancing opponent. His initial challenge is enough to put him off, but the guy backing him up collects the pass back to him and plays it across the box. Somehow though, a combination of Wilson and a returning defender manage to keep the ball out of our goal. I think it’s safe to say we’re not looking very steady at the back….

The largely rubbish half thankfully passes without further damage and we amble to the far end to raise the flags and hopefully await some form of recovery. Sadly, the signs immediately after the restart aren’t great. A couple of minutes in, we’re caught out down our right flank and the dangerous low ball across the box is only claimed at the second attempt by Wilson with attackers lurking.

We’re not looking too clever, with little in the way of decent play being produced by the U’s, but almost 10 minutes after the restart, the somewhat reluctant looking ref awards a rare free-kick deep in Magpie territory, out on the right. Fear once more wraps his boot round it and swings it to the back post. Corbett steals in and taking advantage of some unusually slack marking, powers a header back across goal and levels the scores.

Bloody hell, where did that come from?!

Bouyed by suddenly finding themselves back in the game, we tighten up all over the park, push up on our opponents and start making life a damn sight harder for them than before. Gone is the leisurely passing between their centre backs as Kennedy, Gray, Honey & Joff harry & chase. This is more fucking like it!

Maidenhead have a sight of goal just after the hour, a break down the middle seeing their man ride 2 weak challenges on the edge of the box, but his shot is wide of the mark. A couple of minutes later, we respond with a Gray corner from the right. It flies across the face of goal, is knocked back under the bar and hooked off the line by a defender.

But with 20 minutes to go, Gray makes a run down the right. And plays a ball down the line for Kunle Olusesi, on for the tiring Kennedy. The tiny forward attacks the defence and drives for the box, before playing a ball across 18 yard line, finding Boosey. Glenn finds his path barred, but keeps possession, lays off to the supporting Honey who thumps a fantastic dipping drive beyond the reach of the ‘keeper and into the back of the net.

It’s a cracking strike from Ug. Despite not being known for his striking prowess, it has to be said, when he does hit one, it stays hit!

The game enters it’s most interesting phase with the U’s pushing for a killer third and the home side trying to get back on terms. Maidenhead go closest with a little 10 minutes to play, a ball from left to right across the Sutton box. It eventually finds it’s way to their no6, whose blistering drive zips narrowly high & a tad wide of Wilsons near post. Olusesi impresses on his debut. We’d heard he was quick, but not that he was 3 foot tall! But despite his diminutive stature and being an ex-scummer, he wins us over with his high energy efforts, chasing about like a lunatic.

But with time running down, it’s looking distinctly like for all their efforts, the home side are going to end up on the wrong end of the result. Until, with around a minute left, once again it’s left to an official rather than a member of either side who has the biggest say.

A high ball in to the edge of the box sees Thomas challenge his man in the air and seemingly win a comfortable header. A second or two later, we notice the linesman on the near side flagging.

“Offside” we think. Great, a chance to relieve the pressure and kill a few vital seconds as there can’t be long left now. To our annoyance, the ref who has so far less than covered himself in glory, takes an age to spot the flag before acknowledging it. And when he does, the lino immediately places the flag across his chest.

Er, hold on. Isn’t that indicating a foul?? It’d better be in our favour if it is. ‘Cos if that fucking twat is giving a penalty, I will not be amused. But after a discussion between the ref and his mate, it becomes clear the man with the flag has indeed given a penalty. And what’s worse, it seems the ref agrees and points to the spot.

Wankers. Total total wankers. Not ONE person had appealed at all. Not one. Not a fan at that end, not a player in black & white stripes, no one. Not even a shout.

O’Connor makes the most of the lifeline and despite Wilson guessing right, places his spot-kick tidily inside the post and two points evaporate right in front of our eyes. It’s a point and it’s better than nowt admittedly, but we’ve been royally fucked over there.

Majorly pissed off, we head for the car. Right, time for Windy to get his toe down and get us back to the pub for a beer before closing. We need one after that! As we head to the car park, we pass a very VERY pissed off U’s official having a very excited phone call. And it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out it’s about 3 useless idiots in black shirts. Hopefully we’ve dispensed with complaining to the league and gone straight for the knock on the door and a good going over with pick-axe handles by several burly blokes. Chance would be a fine thing.

Piled into the motor, we head for the motorway and on the way down, Windy gets a flash from what we assume is a speed camera. Just what you need after a result like that! His loud cursing has barely died down as we approach the M4 and discover some arsehole has decided to close the slip road entirely. We try to follow the displayed ‘diversion’, but quickly discover 2 piss poor signs is all the help we’re gonna be getting and we’re largely on our own. Because of this, we’re soon heading down poxy B roads to try and get home and that much needed pint. Naturally this turns the air even bluer with 5 parched footy fans in the car on top of one of them looking at 3 points on his licence.

Thankfully, having Dave in tow for the trip helps as he calls ahead to the Hood and being staff means he can get a slightly dodgy ‘last orders’ round ordered up. Sometimes it helps to be connected! Even better though, we manage to make up time and roll up with 5 minutes to spare, so Chalmers promptly gets another pre-bell round in whilst we sink Dave’s earlier pre-order. Which helps improve the mood ever so slightly. Not much, but slightly.

Here’s hoping for a win Saturday so we can get this season rolling finally…

TEAM : Wilson, Gray, Booth, Corbett, Thomas, Boosey, Fear, Honey, Akuamouah, Vansittart, Kennedy  SUBS : Martin, Brake, Howard, Olusesi

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