The Magpies Under 18s cruised through to the Third Qualifying Round of the FA Cup with a superb performance in a difficult-looking tie at Boreham Wood.
In testing conditions with Hurricane Lorenzo rearing its head, this tie on the immaculate Meadow Park surface was rather a slow burner but the Young Magpies were in control of the game throughout and a three-goal burst in the final third of the match secured safe passage for Ivan Harper and Christian Parker’s boys. There was an early strike on the turn by Reece Smith before Jack Gibson was played in on goal and was denied by Donnabhan in the Wood goal. Reece Smith then prodded over after the latest in a string of Maidenhead corners reached him inside the 18 yard box and then Smith lobbed wide after chasing on to a ball over the top from Gibson. Luca Kershaw had to be at his best to intercept a dangerous long ball before Semakula volleyed over for the hosts. Gibson showed skill and determination to chase a lost cause and whip in a fine cross from the right which was shanked over the bar by a covering Wood defender and from the resultant Smith corner Borkovic could have made more of a headed chance that he glanced wide. Before half time Kithambo for the home side scuffed a half chance wide but the opening period ended with precious few clear-cut chances as the teams enjoyed brief respite from the swirling wind and rain.
Maidenhead made sure of a place in Friday’s draw at the end of a second half in which they entirely dominated proceedings. In the opening minute of the second period Gibson fired wide when well placed and then a whipped free-kick from Borkovic just evaded a telling touch from ‘skipper Harrison Playle at the far post. Gibson then hung up a fine cross which was a fraction too high for Smith before Maidenhead took a deserved lead just after the hour. There was a scramble in the box and the ball fell to Curtis on the edge of the box who hit his effort powerfully and accurately across the zippy turf into the corner of Donnabhan’s goal. Two goals inside five minutes with a little under fifteen minutes to play were then just reward for Maidenhead’s superiority; Reece Smith bundled home a second from close range as the home side failed to deal with Maidenhead pressure and then at the end of a fine team move Adam Croker laid the ball on a plate for Gibson to grab a deserved goal. A Smith free-kick was then glanced wide of the goal by Gibson before an effort from Croker was deflected wide. The hosts showed good endeavour in fighting to the end with Maidenhead snuffing out one or two dangerous situations before a fine effort from Brophy was touched behind by Fred Chapman.
Joint manager Christian Parker was understandably delighted with the win: “I am extremely pleased with the performance from the lads tonight in difficult weather conditions and after the majority of them had difficulties getting to the ground due to traffic on the motorways. However, after a very short warm up, each and every one of them did what we asked of them and this will hopefully provide them with some much needed confidence ahead of our next league fixture and the next round of this competition. I’d like to thank the parents who travelled to the game and for their support throughout the 90 minutes, very much appreciated as always. Final thanks go to Boreham Wood for their hospitality and I’m sure this is one of the best surfaces we will get to play on all season. We look forward to Friday now and the draw for the next round”.
MAGPIES: Chapman, Chitepo, Dirkin, Kershaw, Playle, Croker, Borkovic, Curtis, Gibson (Sub Croker ’84), Boyd (Sub Scott ’88), Smith (Sub Keetch ’88).
Subs not used: Gough, Bouzidi.
SCORERS: Curtis (62’), Smith (72’), Gibson (76’).
WOOD: Donnabhan, Hassan (Sub Savane ’87), Brophy, Tuttle, Freitas, Kandolo, Noutaha, Semakula, Kithambo, Gordon (Sub Brown ’69), Decaine (Sub Jallow ’55).
Subs not used: Davies, Basden, Jacob, Prendergast.