Shots fired but Bank Holiday Stalemate
Ebb and flow at the EBB
The Magpies started 2019 with a solid point and a clean sheet in a relegation scrap at the EBB Stadium that was more open and entertaining than the goalless score line suggests. Alan Devonshire suffered a blow prior to kick off, losing top scorer Adrian Clifton to illness but there was a return to the starting line-up for Max Worsfold at the home of his former club whilst influential midfielder James Comley reclaimed his place in the team having served a suspension.
The game got off to a lively start with Harold Odametey being roared on as he embarked on a driving run by the 145 travelling supporters in a second best league crowd of the season at the EBB of 2,090. At the other end, Massey had to clear under pressure from Grant who would otherwise surely have had a tap-in to add to his two goals in the reverse fixture on Boxing Day. The busy Wanadio was involved in the Shots two best openings in the first half. Firstly his pass was bundled wide of the target by McDonagh at the near post and then the ball arrived at the feet of Wanadio at the far post and his driven effort fizzed across goal without a telling touch, narrowly passing the wrong side of the far post. Shots sloppiness in possession gave Clerima the opportunity to break with options available and Bird’s centre was snuffed out with Kelly lurking with intent. Comley bent a free-kick over the top of Mannion’s goal but the central defensive partnership of Massey and Kilgour had to stand firm during a long period of first half stoppage time caused by an injury to the home side’s Kinsella who was forced to limp off.
There was a fast start to a second half during which both goalkeepers were to excel. Mannion saved with his feet as Bird and Kelly linked up dangerously before McDonagh was allowed to spin only to be foiled by Pentney. The Magpies were dangerous on the counter attack and both Comley and Odametey saw goal-bound strikes blocked before Pentney again firstly denied McDonagh and then Wanadio from the resultant corner. The best save of the game came from Mannion at full stretch to improbably deny a rising drive from Worsfold at the near post but at the other end that man Wanadio turned and was denied again by Carl Pentney. Then during a frenetic spell, a last ditch Steer tackle denied McDonagh and a screamer of an effort from Bernard hit on the rebound was deflected over by Kilgour. As the crowd gasped for breath Lelan headed the resultant corner against the crossbar.
Midway through the half Pentney was beaten at last but referee Allison ruled a foul in favour of the Magpies keeper who required treatment as a yellow card was given McDonagh who had the ball in the net illegally. Maidenhead ended the game strongly with subtitute Cole floating a freekick over the top and then Josh Kelly twisted and turned in the box before firing over. Odametey then called Mannion into action but the Shots were desperately close to having a final and decisive say with Booty’s cross into the box in injury time which passed agonisingly through a crowd of players. Ultimately however the Magpies thoroughly deserved their point.
MAGPIES: Pentney, Clerima, Steer, Odametey, Kilgour, Comley, Bird, Kelly (Sub Akintunde 89), Worsfold (Sub Cole 66), Twumasi, Massey.
Subs not used: Obileye, Alves, Tarpey.
SHOTS: Mannion, McCoy (Sub Lelan 52), Bernard, Finney, Kinsella (Sub Booty 45), Wanadio, Gallagher, McDonnell, McClure, McDonagh, Grant.
Subs not used: Osborne, Bozier.