Magpies enjoy taste of The Orient
Game, Set and Matchroom for top-half finish
Maidenhead United ground out a sixth away win of the season and in doing so guaranteed a top half finish in what has been a memorable National League debut season. Fittingly, only our second clean sheet on the road this season – and our first anyway since the end of January – came on Carl Pentney’s 150th start for the club with a change in system to a 4-5-1 ensuring that our popular shot-stopper was able to enjoy a largely untroubled milestone appearance.
Alan Devonshire was able to field the same back five for the fifth game in succession and ahead of this settled defensive unit he opted for a midfield three of Odametey, Comley and Upward with Barratt and Owusu on the flanks. Sean Marks led the line in the usual wholehearted manner. United made a bright start and had already forced one corner in the opening exchanges before a second flag kick was swung over this time by Owusu and Ryan Upward was able to force the ball over the line for what was ultimately to be a match-clinching fifth minute strike. The hardworking Marks came close to adding a second, taking advantage of some hesitant defending to prod the loose ball towards goal through the legs of Brill but Orient were able to clear. The home side thereafter enjoyed a good period and forced a number of corner kicks which were expertly dealt with by a well-drilled United defence and the visitors deservedly led at the break.
Barratt tested Brill early in the second half at the end of a good piece of work by Owusu as United’s game plan continued to frustrate the home side who couldn’t find a clear path to goal thanks to the Magpies shape and discipline. The closing stages of this match were rather frantic. O’s substitute Lee was perhaps rather fortunate to escape with just a caution after a late and high challenge on the imperious Comley who was leading yet another purposeful Maidenhead counter-attack. There was a lengthy hold up whilst players from either side came to the defence of their respective team mates and the final twenty minutes plus a lengthy period of stoppages were played out in a rather frenetic manner. It was indicative of Comley’s storming performance that he was able to shrug off Lee’s challenge to switch seamlessly to centre-half to cover for Jake Goodman who had hobbled off with thirteen minutes to play
Another change had seen Clifton introduced as Marks made way and the fresh legs fashioned a clear cut opening with five minutes left which should have made the game safe for Maidenhead. Clifton laid on a pass across the box which offered Barratt a gilt-edged opportunity and his firmly struck effort crashed against Brill’s crossbar and over. As the match ticked into what was ultimately eight and a half minutes of additional time Ryan Upward was dismissed for his reaction to a free kick awarded rather harshly against his side. After the furore died down McAnuff’s set piece didn’t have the dip to test Pentney but the home side will feel that they should have claimed a point more than they perhaps deserved deep in added time as Reynolds crossed for Adams who fired over the top with the goal gaping. Maidenhead will feel that they deserved a little fortune at the end after a hard-working and fully committed performance.
MAGPIES: Pentney, Steer, Odametey, Massey, Comley, Marks (Sub Clifton 64 mins), Barratt, Owusu (Sub Smith 90 mins), Upward, Kilman, Goodman (Sub Emmanuel 76 mins).
SUB NOT USED: Peters.
GOAL: Upward (5)
SENT OFF: Upward (90)
O’s: Brill, McAnuff, Bonne, Judd, Koroma, Ekpiteta, Clay (Sub Lee 45 mins), Happe, Brophy (Sub Reynolds 60 mins), Adams, Ling.
SUBS NOT USED: Grainger, Mooney, Clayden.