06:11PM, Saturday 29 April 2017
WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS: Maidenhead United players and fans celebrate winning the National League South title following the 3-0 victory at Margate.
Margate 0, Maidenhead United 3
Within seconds of the final whistle Maidenhead United's title winning players were submerged by their adoring fans - some in fancy dress - in the centre circle.
Championes! Championes! the Magpies fans chorused after Harry Pritchard's double and another from Dave Tarpey, his 44th of a record breaking season, confirmed a deserved title - and promotion to the National League - for Alan Devonshire's men.
In the aftermath captain Alan Massey held aloft an inflatable trophy to raucous cheers and the players deservedly revelled in their moment.
If last week the Magpies froze when closest rivals Ebbsfleet came to town, today they seized their moment with a calm assurance.
It helped that Pritchard put them in front after only 13 minutes, curling home a low free kick past Valery Pajetat.
Their lead should have been added to before the break. Jack Parkinson screwed wide with only the keeper to beat and Tarpey scampered in on goal just before the interval - from another Pritchard pass - only to be foiled by Pajetat.
Remy Clerima, the Magpies' cultured right back headed over on the half hour, after James Mulley had been clattered into by Jack Evans, a challenge which on another afternoon could easily have resulted in red.
United led at the break but their advantage wasn't a decisive one, and Margate had done enough in the first half to suggest an equaliser wasn't beyond them.
But all doubt was cast aside when the ball fell to the feet of Tarpey in the 51st minute and he swept the ball into the bottom corner. He eventually emerged from beneath a bundle of Magpies teammates to take the acclaim of the visiting supporters.
A third followed on the hour mark when Pritchard cut in from the left flank and arrowed a low shot goalwards.
It flew through a group of bodies and beat Pajetat as he fell to the ground. Sean Marks ran off celebrating but it was later confirmed as Pritchard's goal.
With the title now in the bag Maidenhead's players relaxed, knowing they'd done enough to finish on top ahead of Ebbsfleet.
Further chances followed, most notably for Tarpey who lashed wide off his left peg in the final 10 minutes.
The final whistle led to a mass pitch invasion from all quarters and confirmed what most have known all season - that Maidenhead United are the best side in this league.
The champagne that had been placed on ice after last weekend's defeat to Ebbsfleet was soon being sprayed by the players over all and sundry.
Maidenhead United: Pentney, Clerima, Steer, Parkinson (Upward 84), Massey, Inman, Tarpey, Comley, Marks (Cox 71) Mulley, Pritchard (Smith 86).
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