MAIDENHEAD UNITED – 1 [Williams 30]
SUTTON UNITED – 1 [Dundas 86]
Having somehow managed to extract some much unexpected Christmas cheer in the form or a point at Hampton on Boxing Day, we of course head out to Maidenhead a couple of days later with a little bit of hope in our hearts. Hope that we’ll be able to take advantage of the Magpies woeful home form and record just our second win of the season.
Yeah, I know. We’re a bit silly really aren’t we?
An early start on the train sees an all boys trip for the first time in a while. Mrs C and Colette heading down by car as PC’s missus has a work shift starting at 7. Still, no complaints here as it means we can get down there and maybe have a few before the doris’ show up.
Unfortunately, they leave at the same time as us and end up in town a while before we do, thanks to our train sitting somewhere doing feck all for 20mins. So they go for a stroll in the high street, as birds do and in the end, we find them walking the other way as we head down to the Hobgoblin for an opener.
The pub has been somewhat livened up since our last visit and is a lot brighter than the dark, dank place we visited a couple of seasons back. Plus they’ve got a good selection of beer, a pinball machine and a jukebox which has all sorts of bizarre stuff stored on it to keep us amused.
A couple of beers later, we take a stroll down towards the ground and pop into the Hand & FLowers for a quick one, simply to find out if the parrot I’d first seen in here about 5-6 years back on a visit with Bob was still in residence. Surprisingly, he is, parked on a perch at the far end of the bar next to the fruit machine.
Every pub should have one I reckon!
Next stop, York Road. Here we settle for a couple more refreshments while we await the commencement of the action. While waiting, we find the side has changed again today with Ernie going for a 4-5-1 formation. Dundas leads the line on his own and will rely on the midfielders getting up in support of him. Those tasked with the job are Bash, Lee Maskell (a new loan signing from Gravesend or whatever they’re called this week), Goodchild, Hughes and loan signing Maskell.
Unsurprisingly absent is Gonsalves, who we assume is now almost certainly out the door following his rubbish performance at Hampton and then rumoured tantrum in the dressing room when told the news of his replacement for the second half. And to be honest, given his general attitude this season, I doubt many will be that bothered!
Also missing, is Paul Honey, which does surprise us a tad as the midfield does look a bit lightweight without him. Ho hum.
With the point at Hampton, we pretty much expect the lads to come out and tear into what should be a beatable opposition. We’re to be very disappointed. The game is frankly a complete non-event, with both sides strolling about like they’re already on 30 points and as good as safe. Passing is woeful and the tempo is non-existant. Frustratingly, we all know that if we even upped our performance just a bit, it might be enough to nick a win against possibly the poorest side we’ve seen this season (apart from us of course!).
Dundas has our first vague effort on goal after 19 mins when he outjumps his marker for a left sided corner, but the ‘keeper reads the danger and manages to get a fist in to clear the danger. Maidenhead mount a raid of their own soon after, attacking down the right, Wilson has to stand up at his near post to push away a flicked affort from the low cross in.
Then nothing again.
But, just as we’re all about to drop off to sleep from utter boredom, we finally get a goal to wake things up. Unsurprisingly, it’s not us that scores.
A pretty ordinary bit of possession down the right after half an hour develops into something more dangerous when our so far less than perfect midfield stands off and allows the man too much space. He cuts in, clips a little ball into the right channel and their top scorer turns smartly and rifles a shot low across Wilson and into the far corner.
Sadly, it seems that the blood and thunder we’d all hoped for this afternoon to fire up our survival fight is more Tom & Jerry
The rest of the half is much the same as what went before. Two dreadful sides unable to raise the tempo above walking pace and not able to string so much as two passes together. It’s all very dull and frustrating. Especially as our hosts look about as bad as us this afternoon.
Half time comes and barely a peep is heard from either set of supporters. Which kind of sums up the kind of game we’ve been served up in the first 45 minutes. Flag down, we take an amble round to the far end, muttering all the way about the lack of fire from our lot in particular.
Hopefully, Ernie has seen that the midfield put out simply isn’t strong enough and we need some support for Dundas.
He does. For the second half, he replaces Goodchild with McBean, apparently only on the bench do to another late arrival. Still, at least it gives us some more attacking threat on the pitch.
Warren’s arrival though, does little to lift us or the game. If anything, the home side look a little more with it after the break and a couple of chances come their way. First up is a speculative effort on the turn from about 20 yards or so out 3 minutes in that curls and dips towards goal, forcing Wilson to get across and palm it away one handed for a corner. The next is after 53 minutes. Our throw in from the left is cleared up field and Sammut comes across to cover, but he misjudges the ball and it slips under his boot and runs into space for an attacker to race clear on goal. To our relief, Phil is off his line quickly and blocks well just inside the box.
Shortly after, we’re reminded that we are actually participating in the game. Dundas gets up well to flick on a long ball forwards. The ball finds McBean on the left and he darts forward before holding up and delivering a perfect little squared ball across the box. But again, no one from midfield is up in support and there isn’t a single Amber shirt nearby to even worry the defenders.
Dundas volleys comfortably wide of the near post on 58 mins after his persistence has set up a cross for Hughes. The big striker hitting the poor defensive header that drops to him first time.
The rest of the half from here is more tedium with few decent passages of play, let alone chances. The home side seemingly having sensed that their one goal will probably be enough to earn them 3 points. Then, with time running out, we seem to wake up to the fact our hosts are sacking it off a touch and spark into life a little.
With 5 minutes to play, we finally manage to test the no doubt utterly bored Magpies ‘keeper. We manage to build up some pressure on the left and the cross eventually comes in. It hits a defender in the chest and drops invitingly for McBean. But the ‘keeper gets down and spreads himself well to smother Warrens close range effort.
Having played the way we have, we’re all pretty sure that our one chance to nick something from this appalling game has gone. But, a couple of minutes later, it’s that man to the rescue again and Craig Dundas hauls our carcasses out of the fire.
A long ball forward seems to catch out the home defence and it drops behind them for the big striker to run onto. With it bouncing high, Dundas tries to hook it past the oncoming ‘keeper. He blocks with his chest, but somehow the ball comes back to our man and he bundles through, forcing it over the line from a yard or so out.
Jesus wept. Thank fuck for that!
Now just wishing for the final whistle, we do have a couple of opportunities to snatch an unlikely win. But the best of these drops to Tom Hughes. A free-kick from the right is lofted in and the defender in front of him completely misses his header. Tom manages to get a foot on the ball to try & bring it under control as he goes forward, but the touch is too heavy and runs through to the ‘keeper.
Still, a point is won and it’s very welcome having looked pretty unlikely about half an hour or so ago.
Right, pub anyone?
We park in the bar for a while and enjoy a couple of drinks, whilst the Everton-Arse game plays out on the telly. But we’re not that fussed to be honest. A quick chat with some of the lads who are planning to head out for their New Years Eve tonight and we head over the road to the local posh Wetherspoons for a couple of beverages.
Right train home I reckon.
Sadly, our run of good connections ends at Victoria and we end up having plenty of time for some scoff on the train home. A couple of relaxed beers in the Hood ends relatively early, with everyone somewhat beered out by the festivities past.
Still, I’m pissed off we didn’t show more today. 3 points for the taking and we blew it. Oh well, we’ll just have to beat high flying Hampton on New Years Day then.
Oh I’m such a comedian.
MoM : Erm……do I really have to?
TEAM : Wilson, Sammut, Bray, Haverson, Scarborough, Alimi, Hughes, Maskell, Goodchild, Wright, Dundas, SUBS : Greene, McBean, Ottaway, Honey, Williams