Maidenhead edge Christmas Cracker
Maidenhead United thrilled the majority of a bumper Boxing Day bank-holiday crowd, edging out Aldershot Town by the odd goal in seven on an afternoon of firsts at York Road. Harold Odametey netted his first of the season and Alfie Kilgour opened his account for the Magpies as Maidenhead recorded a first win against the Shots since 2001.
Both teams suffered injury blows prior to kick off. Max Worsfold failed a late fitness test for the Magpies whereas Shots skipper Karleigh Osborne led his team out at the start but was unable to kick off the match, with Josh Lelan taking his place in the starting line up. Nana Owusu replaced Worsfold in the Maidenhead starting XI and the home side started well against a team winless in their previous ten. Once again, Clifton and Kelly linked up well and in the opening ten minutes a neat move between the front two resulted in Clifton scuffing a shot at Mannion. Harold Odametey seemed back to his energetic best and one of his bursting runs ended with Clifton's goal-bound strike being blocked. Obileye screwed an effort over from the edge of the box after good work by Owusu but it was the visitors who were to open the scoring, very much against the run of play. With twenty four minutes on the clock, Booty slipped in the impressive Grant who slotted through the legs of Pentney and United had that sinking feeling once again.
This time Maidenhead responded well in the face of adversity and their wholly merited equaliser came within five minutes of having conceded. It was good work from Nana Owusu on the left hand side who sent in a teasing ball into the box and top-scorer Clifton flicked a header past Mannion for the perfect response. The Magpies passed up a couple of presentable chances to lead going into the break with Obileye rising to nod an Owusu corner wide of the post before Josh Kelly held off defenders and raced on to Clifon's pass but could not apply a finish having elected to go around Mannion rather than shoot for goal. Within twenty minutes of the restart however United looked home-and-hosed for a first home league win since September as the home side finally made the most of their chances.
Gallagher made a vital block to deny a goal bound Clifton effort within minutes of the restart but it didn't take long for the sprightly Kelly to give Maidenhead the lead. Making the most of a defensive misjudgement, Kelly played off the shoulder of the last man who he beat all ends up for sheer pace before rounding Mannion and rolling into an unguarded net. Within minutes the lead was doubled and once again Clifton and Kelly were involved in a move which opened up an opportunity for Odametey to slot home for the first time this campaign. The visitors hit back and were denied as Seth Twumasi heroically hacked away from his own goal line after a Lelan header from a Shots corner had Pentney beaten. Then it was one of Twuamsi's defensive colleagues who was next to make a telling impact on this game as Kilgour crashed home the loose ball after Clerima's header was stopped on the line by McCoy. The side with only four goals in their previous eleven National League fixtures had scored three in eleven minutes in front of a delirious Canal End.
Such is the Magpies fragile confidence of late that the Shots were back in the game midway through the half as Grant impressively beat Massey before finishing with aplomb past Pentney to set nerves jangling again. After this thrilling burst of goals the game settled down into a period of something approaching normality as the Magpies made all of their substitutions but the visitors were still working hard to make their way back into this encounter and just as the game began to seem safe the Shots were awarded a penalty. The busy Grant made the most of more hesitant defending and was felled by Pentney who was yellow carded following a long period of treatment. McDonnell slotted home the penalty and with one goal in it the immediate indication of seven minutes of additional time to be played was most unwelcome. The Magpies however threw their bodies and heads on the line and saw out the remainder of this exhausting match to claim three vital points.
MAGPIES: Pentney, Clerima (Sub Cole 72), Steer, Odametey, Obileye, Kilgour, Kelly (Sub Tarpey 75), Twumasi, Clifton (Sub Bird 80), Owusu, Massey.
GOALS: Clifton (28), Kelly (51), Odametey (54), Kilgour (62)
Subs not used: Alves, Akintunde.
SHOTS: Mannion, Kinsella, McDonnell, McClure, Wanadio, Lelan, Gallagher, Booty, McCoy, Finney, Grant.
Subs not used: Cole, Bernard, Bozier.
GOALS: Grant (24, 66) McDonnell (90 Pen)