Hatters in the hat
Edge of the seat stuff at Edgeley
Maidenhead exited the Buildbase FA Trophy after they failed to hold on to a two goal lead at Vanarama National League North opposition Stockport County. Despite two quick-fire second half strikes from Hyde and Barratt a two goal burst in the final ten minutes of this replay took the tie to extra time and the home side ultimately claimed a deserved success to book a quarter-final date with Brackley Town.
There was an early chance for the Hatters as Ball - who was later to win it for the home side - sidefooted Duxbury's cross straight at the busy Pentney. The first of several impressive stops from the Magpies custodian came after 18 minutes play had elapsed as the Stockport left winger Stephenson - who enjoyed a fine game - cut in and Pentney had to save at full strength. If the opening exchanges were rather cagey then the Hatters - unbeaten on their own patch since October - will have been frustrated not to have taken a lead into the interval as the Maidenhead goal led a charmed life with Pentney inspired. A slip by Massey saw home players queuing up to score and ultimately it was Thomas who was kept out by the Magpies 'keeper. Just after the half hour a gilt-edged opportunity saw Warburton crash an effort wide of the target when well placed after more Stephenson trickery and right on half time that man Stephenson wriggled away from Massey and was denied by the legs of Pentney.
And for a long period of the second half it seemed as if County would rue their profligacy in front of goal. Maidenhead posed significantly more of a goal threat in the second period and after both sides exchanged chances early in the half - Clifton cutting in to be denied at the near post before Oswell forced another flying save from Pentney - the visitors seemed to have taken a grip on the game with two goals in a little under five minutes around the hour mark. Hinchcliffe made a meal of Smalley's backpass on a bumpy surface and Hyde was able to take possession and walk the ball into the net. Then Barratt plunged a header past the Hatters keeper at his far post after a brilliant cross from the ever-lively Odametey. And for more than twenty minutes after that two goal lead was established United looked very comfortable and a place in the quarter finals looked a sure thing. However with a little under ten to play the arrears were halved when Stephenson was able to cut in from the left and stroke the ball home and with the home crowd now lifted an equaliser came when a cross-shot from substitute West was deflected by Massey past the helpless Pentney moments before 5 minutes of injury time were announced.
The decisive goal came with four minutes of extra time played. It was the ubiquitous Stephenson who created it, and Ball bundled home at the near post. That wasn't the end of the drama as Hatters skipper Winter was dismissed for a second bookable foul but Maidenhead struggled to create clear cut chances thereafter albeit substitute Smith cut in and drilled into the side netting in the second period of extra time. There was plenty of huff and puff and direct football from Maidenhead in those closing stages but the home side held out at the end of 3 and a half hours of hard fought cup football over two memorable ties.
MAGPIES: Pentney, Steer, Odametey, Massey (C), Comley (sub Smith 78), Hyde (Sub Marks 88), Barratt (sub Kilman 80), Clifton, Upward, Peters, Goodman.
Subs not used: Owusu, Pritchard.
GOALS: Hyde (57) Barratt (61)
HATTERS: Hinchliffe, Cowan (sub Dixon 88), Duxbury, Winter (C), Smalley, O'Halloran, Thomas, Ball, Oswell (sub Stopforth 74), Warburton (sub West 89), Stephenson.
Subs not used: Clarke, Ormson.
GOALS: Stephenson (83) West (90) Ball (94)