To Clarence Park for the visit of Alan Devonshire's Maidenhead, The Magpies, nicknamed because they play in the same strip as Newcastle, presumably. The visitors are 13th in the League with 31 points from 22 games. They drew 2-2 at home to Basingstoke on Boxing Day.
Every game is a big game for The Saints who are 2nd in the table, 7 points behind Aldershot, but with a game in hand. For today, Cookie selected Wilmot in goal; 4 at the back: Moran, Brown (C), Campbell and Hollenbach; 4 in the middle: Oakes, Challinor, Castle, and Kean; and up front: Martin and Crawshaw. On the bench: Evans, Mackail-Smith, De Souza, Cook and Dean Stannard. Injured : Gledhill and Smith. Suspended: Naylor.
A dream start for City. Inside 2 minutes, a cross from Oakes wide on the left was flapped by the keeper on to the inside of the post which rebounded to Crawshaw who tapped home from a yard. 1-0. Within 2 minutes it was level. A free kick from 25 yards was bent round the wall with power to Wilmot's right by Glynn. 1-1.
Within 10 minutes or so, Castle was injured and replaced by Evans.The dream began to turn into a nightmare for The Saints. Maidenhead dominated the remainder of the half. Solid at the back and tight on City's strikers, they were quick and creative in midfield. Severall clear cut chances were created and a combination of poor finishing and desperate rearguard actions kept the score level. It could have been 4 or 5. City had a late chance to score when a fierce Oakes free-kick rebounded off the crossbar too quickly for Moran who volleyed high. H.T. 1-1.
A dressing room roasting, no doubt saw City look to compete in the second half. The game was there to be won but today, the individual skill and teamwork was not on display. Effort would not be enough against a tight, well-organised Maidenhead side. De Souza replaced the out-of-sorts Martin. Maidenhead continued in the same vein and 10 minutes from time, took the lead when City were dispossessed in the midfield, the ball was passed to the speedy Allen on the right who crossed for Yaku to hit home from close range. 1-2.
Mackail-Smith came on for Hollenbach for the last minute or so only to see Yaku score his second, a smartly curled shot from 12 yards. F.T 1-3.
Maidenhead played their own game well today and were worthy winners. It could have been a lot more had they taken their chances in the first half. City mystified me. A number of players had a poor day but looking back, as a whole, the side did not compete for the ball. Throughout the game the visitors back 4 and midfield gathered the ball without serious challenge. On that basis, it will always be one way traffic. Very disappointing particularly as Aldershot lost at Braintree today.
The crowd was 606 with well under 100 having made the trip from Royal Berkshire. Motm? You have to be joking.
Entertainment 4/10. Atmosphere 5/10. Technical Merit 4/10. Referee 3/10.
Match report by Homer