Magpies head off the Heed
Clerima clinches it
Maidenhead United recorded a fourth away victory of the season with a deserved success at a venue they previously had unhappy memories of. The equivalent fixture last season saw the Magpies collapse to a 7-1 defeat but there never seemed any likelihood of a similar capitulation on this occasion as a rejigged starting XI held out to clinch the victory.
Ayo Obileye was reintroduced to the centre of midfield alongside the energetic Odametey and the peerless Comley as Alan Devonshire opted to field a 4-5-1 system. Top scorer Adrian Clifton was deemed not fit to start after a recent bout of illness and winger Max Worsfold also missed out through injury. An unfamiliar system and the loss of two key players did not phase Maidenhead however as the visitors went on to entirely dominate the opening 45 minutes at the International Stadium.
James Comley was imperious in the middle of the park from the first minute til the last and he created an opening early on which Bird drilled over the top. Odametey fired wide after good work by Bird and that man Comley before Akintunde had a goal-bound effort blocked. The under-worked Pentney was aware enough to race off his line to snuff out the danger after a long ball towards the dangerous Boden before the Magpies took a merited lead just before the half hour mark. Inevitably Comley was involved in the match-clinching goal. Coms short throw in to Twumasi was received back by the Maidenhead midfield general who beat Thomson not once but twice before centring to Clerima who turned on the edge of the six yard box to loft an effort past the despairing dive of Pears. In response, Salkeld fired over the top for the home side but the visitors deservedly led at the break.
The second period was largely a scrappy one as Maidenhead fought to maintain their lead. The scrappiness was best summed up early in the second forty-five after determined work by Bird to pull the ball back from the dead ball line whereupon, under pressure from Obileye, the experienced Williamson - 150 appearances for the Heed's cross-Tyne neighbours Newcastle - gave his 'keeper an ill-advised back-pass to deal with and Pears did well to clear. Referee Mr Hughes cautioned five players in that second half as the home side looked to turn the game around but frankly Pentney was rarely unduly extended in the Maidenhead goal. Bird headed a Twumasi cross off target before a well-worked Gateshead short free-kick rebounded kindly to Williamson who fired straight at the Magpies 'keeper. A Tinkler corner was headed towards a crowd of players by Williamson where Devitt flicked an effort towards goal only to be denied by an alert clearance by Twumasi. Pentney comfortably denied Boden at the end of a Salkeld cross before Massey came to the rescue to clear with Boden lurking with intent after a Forbes shot had deflected kindly into the path of the Heed forward.
There was one final scare when Williamson's near post header from a corner landed upon the roof of the net with Pears sent up to make a nuisance of himself. The Magpies held out however to record successive clean sheets for the first time since December 2017 and three welcome points thanks to Clerima's first goal of the season.
MAGPIES: Pentney, Clerima, Steer, Odametey, Obileye (Sub Clifton 89), Kilgour, Comley, Bird (Sub Upward 85), Twumasi, Akintunde (Sub Kelly 81), Massey.
Subs not used: Alves, Peters.
GOAL: Clerima (29)
HEED: Pears, Kerr, Williamson, Tinkler, Thomson, Hunter, Ford (Sub McGeoch 84), Salkeld, Mellish, Boden, Rigg.
Subs not used: Foden, Devitt, Clark, Hayhurst.