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Preview: Maidenhead United looking to restore lead at the top with win at Chelmsford City

Daniel Darlington

Reporter:

Daniel Darlington

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Maidenhead United have the chance to nip back above Ebbsfleet United at the top of the National League South when they play their game in hand at fourth placed Chelmsford City this evening.

Alan Devonshire’s men trail Fleet by two points after they were held to a goalless draw by Hampton & Richmond Borough at York Road on Saturday. United were far from their best but once again had enough chances to have won the game. 

In contrast Ebbsfleet ruthlessly put East Thurrock United to the sword 6-1 having initially fallen behind.

A 1-0 home win over the Clarets first took the Magpies to the top of the table back in August and United’s supporters would dearly love a similar outcome this evening but they face a tough task against a Chelmsford side that are in promotion contention through the play-offs themselves. A win for United would take them one point above Fleet.

The Clarets are unbeaten in the league since their 2-0 defeat at Ebbsfleet on January 21.

In recent weeks they’ve beaten Dartford and Concord Rangers 4-3 at home. Saturday saw them steal a point thanks to Chris Dickson’s 93rd minute equaliser in a 2-2 draw at Hemel Hempstead Town.

They sit fourth in the table ahead of this evening’s visit of the Magpies to Melbourne Stadium. 

Looking ahead to tonight’s match Clarets boss Rod Stringer told his club’s website: “To me, it’s a game that we shouldn’t fear. We respect Maidenhead, after all, you don’t spend as much time at the top of the table as they have if you haven’t got something about you. But we know that on our day we are a match for anyone, as we have already proved.

“We need to be aware of the threat they possess in attack, get amongst their midfield. We need to do what we’ve done at home all season.

“We haven’t lost a league match at the Melbourne Stadium this season. We have to use whatever we can to gain an advantage. That means we need the crowd to turn up in force and get behind us. We need to play well on the night and get the rub of the green with the decisions.

“If we do all that, maybe we can cause what many people will see as a bit of an upset.

“Credit to Maidenhead, they have kept competitive all season. I know Ebbsfleet are probably the favourites now, they’ve got a squad to die for and a budget possible on par with most Sky Bet League Two clubs and some in League One.

“But if we can get a victory on Monday it puts us on sixty-two and brings the gap down to eight points. You just never know what might happen. Eight points at this stage of the season aren't enough for us to throw the towel in. On top of that, beating Maidenhead would help cement our place in the play-off places.

“I’ve come up against Alan Devonshire quite a lot. We know the players that he has got with him at Maidenhead. They look to play percentages, ‘Devs’ is recognised for doing that well with his sides.

“We just have to approach the game positively and try to take something from the contest. I’m sure the boys will raise the bar and we’ll give it a good go.”

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