MAIDENHEAD United boss Alan Devonshire has said there’s no point trying to predict how the Magpies will get on in their opening National League fixtures, but he conceded one thing – it’s going to be very tough.
The Magpies have been handed a daunting start to their campaign, but also an exciting one, with four of the biggest teams in non-league football set to visit York Road in the opening two months.
Depending which side of the fence you sit, this is either one of the toughest starts the Magpies could have got or one of the best, with a series of exciting home matches sure to tempt more fans into snapping up season tickets.
United start with a trip to Maidstone United on August 5 before welcoming Wrexham to York Road on Tuesday, August 8 and Hartlepool United a few days later on August 12.
Throw in a home tie against Ebbsfleet United on August 19, a match that’s sure to carry some needle after last year’s neck and neck race for the title, a huge trip to Barrow on August 26, and the visit of Leyton Orient to York Road a couple of days later, and you have the recipe for an eye-catching start to the season.
It's one which is sure to be a true test of Maidenhead’s capabilities in the fifth tier of English football.
“It looks tough doesn’t it,” Devonshire said yesterday.
“Listen, at the end of the day you’ve got to play all of the teams twice.
“There are some big home games to look forward to early on, and hopefully we’ll get a decent crowd for those matches.
On his side’s chances of getting a good start at Maidstone, Devonshire added: “We’ll fancy our chances but then so will they. Especially at home on that plastic pitch.
“We’ve just got to take each game as it comes and try our best. I’m not going to try and forecast anything because all of the teams are very strong and week in week out we’ll have
very difficult games.”
Far from being daunted by the prospect of playing these former league clubs, Devonshire is up for the challenge and believes he has a side capable of grinding out enough points for survival.
But the fixture list also threw up the odd complaint from the former West Ham United man after United were scheduled to play Leyton Orient two days after their 550-round trip to Barrow, and he doesn’t see why clubs must play four fixtures in eight days over Christmas.
“Hopefully we can get off to a decent start,” he said.
“But going all the way to Barrow on the Saturday and then playing Leyton Orient on the Monday will be tough.
“I’m used to the little clubs being treated differently though. We’ve also got four games at Christmas. I don’t see why they couldn’t be fitted in elsewhere.
“You can’t predict what will happen. No one thought York would go down last season but they did. Hopefully you get teams when they’re struggling or in transition, but it’s about grinding out results and we’ll be looking to get to 51 points as quickly as we can.
“It’s about staying in this league because we don’t want to be a yo-yo club,” he added.
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