"As for Maidenhead, the conga (which was amusing) aside, quite a strange bunch really – some the oddest chants I've ever heard at a football match" ~ localboy86, Amber Planet forum, 26th April 2015

Wednesday 14 February 2024

Away Day (sort of) Diary: Halifax Town 2-1 Maidenhead United (13/02/24)

Having watched a live stream of the Magpies' undeserved yet entirely predictable 1-0 defeat at Boreham Wood on Saturday in a room at Wexham Park Hospital (the patient is making steady progress on a long road  thanks to all those who have sent well wishes), Willie T., Macleod (M) and I were joined by Chris Rad. and Jamie on the mammoth midweek drive to West Yorkshire for this rearranged fixture; we left Maidenhead at approximately 15:20 and topics of conversation on the four-hour-plus, often treacherous journey up the M40/ A43/ M1/ M62 included an imminent 20th anniversary, memories of other FA Trophy opponents of yesteryear, and Macleod (M)'s problems with The Jam's Down in the Tube Station at Midnight ("He was planning on having a takeaway curry with his wife at that time?!")

After not one but two circuits of The Shay's car park, hanging up the flags, and yours truly going for a chicken pie (pretty good), the Magpies were behind early on to – upon reflection – a decent strike; we were poor in the first 45, seemingly unsure of our footing while defending the worst half of a pudding of a pitch, and those wearing black and white stripes could count themselves fortunate to be only 1-0 down at the interval

LOLs all around as one of the Halifax players inadvertently booted his teammate right in front of us; there was even more for the travelling hordes to smile about as, with Reece Smith's increasingly effective dribbles and substitute Shawn McCoulsky's pace to the fore, Maidenhead grew into the game, culminating in a scrappy goal (!) – credited to Tobi Sho-Silva but perhaps an OG  after 78 minutes (celebrations in the away end were on a considerable delay, as I think we were all in shock!)

I would argue we then looked the most likely winner until, with Alan Massey on for the injured Zico Asare as our final change and Bradley Keetch (another sub) hobbling about the pitch after a clobbering, livewire McCoulsky had to go off after being on the receiving end of an innocuous-looking but cynical foul (worthy of a blue card); with the Magpies down to nine and a half weeks men, the home side smelt blood as the Assistant Referee held up a board indicating seven additional minutes ...

Following another lung-busting run from Smith (who dallied a split second too long before shooting), we had ourselves a corner deep into injury time; ANG seemingly contemplated trying to hold onto the ball (which he should've done), but we lost it, and Kevin Lokko had to take one for the team on the halfway line ("another blue card")  cue everyone except the Halifax keeper in and around our box, several balls crossed into the danger zone that we failed to clear properly, and, ultimately, a 98th-minute winner that silenced the away fans (partway through "Alan Dev's Black and White Army") and sent the hitherto mute Shaymen into raptures

A proper kick in the wotsits and no mistake  one that undoubtedly put a dampener on the drive home, which, thankfully, was quicker and more straightforward (at least from a weather perspective: closure of the M62 meant the SatNav took us on the A-roads, over the hills and far away past the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, to join the M1 at Junction 38); Macleod (M)'s unflattering vocal impersonation of Cerys Matthews, best Born & Bred bits ("Watt's the story, bugger all glory"), and possible future opponents in the Berks & Bucks Cup (Winslow United, anyone?!) kept us entertained awake, either side of a brief stop at Leicester Forest, before arrival back home at 2 am

XIVth in the table still, and still V points from XXIst place, but results elsewhere (Dorking's late winner at York; in-form Flyde beneficiaries of a red card at Aldershot  wouldn't that be nice?!) mean that the bottom half of the National League table is tighter than a tight thing (with all of those sides below MUFC, except the bottom two, having at least one game in hand); worryingly, two extremely harsh and tough-to-take defeats in quick succession will surely test the mental fortitude of a threadbare, part-time squad that now features several walking wounded, as a potentially significant six-pointer at home to Southend looms large on the horizon (after Micky Mellon's Tranmere Oldham visits York Road on Saturday)

(BBC report; match highlights)

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