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Pritchard leaves it late as Maidenhead United strike down Tranmere Rovers

Maidenhead United 1, Tranmere Rovers 0

Harry Pritchard stroked home a late winner as Maidenhead United deservedly overcame pre-season title favourites Tranmere Rovers at York Road this evening.

Rovers, who have slipped down the divisions and out of league football in recent years, arrived looking to build on their late win over Barrow at the weekend. But instead it was the Magpies who bounced back from their 3-2 defeat at Halifax.

To their credit both teams attempted to play football in awful, wet, conditions, but it was the Magpies, rather than the men from the Wirral, who held the upper hand throughout and fashioned the game’s best chances.

Sam Barratt, playing alongside Adrian Clifton up front in the absence of the injured Sean Marks, showed his vision early on with a sweeping shot from out on the touchline that only just drifted over Scott Davies and the Tranmere crossbar.

Pritchard was a thorn in the Rovers defence throughout, and his dangerous low ball across the face of their goal was hacked clear by the defence at full stretch.

Two minutes later the ball fell kindly in the area for Barratt. His first attempt was blocked and the second he dragged wide when he might have expected to find the target.

In an open, end-to-end game the chances continued to come Maidenhead’s way. James Mulley’s diving header bounced wide of the post midway through the half and Odaemtey and Pritchard both went close from distance, the latter with a curling effort that Davies only just managed to tip over the bar on the stroke of half-time.

Rovers also had their moments. Andy Cook’s shot on the turn was comfortable for Carl Pentney, but ricocheted off captain Alan Massey’s arm on the way through to the keeper leading Rovers fans to cry in vain for a penalty but the referee wasn’t listening.

The visitors made a quick start after the interval and Pentney had to be alert to tip over Cook’s well-struck shot from the left hand edge of the penalty after 46 minutes. Pentney denied the Rovers’ forward again a few minutes later as the visitors enjoyed their best spell of the game. Rene Steer then blocked a certain goal when he slid in to deny Norwood what would have been a tap in with 68 minutes on the clock.

But the Magpies slowly, imperceptibly took back control from the full-time side in the final quarter. A gilt edged chance fell for Clifton in the box with 12 minutes to play but the striker failed to keep his composure and blazed over. Jake Hyde, a second half substitute for the injured Mulley, took a pop shot from distance moments later which Davies shovelled round the post for a corner and Pritchard volleyed just wide of the upright with five minutes to play.

There was no denying the Magpies their win, however, and when Odametey broke well down the right and pulled the ball back to Pritchard on the edge of the area, the winger kept his composure to pass the ball into the net right-footed while falling backwards. It was a goal worthy of winning any game.  

Maidenhead United: Pentney, Clerima, Steer, Odametey, Massey, Comley, Barratt (Smith), Pritchard, Clifton (Inman), Goodman, Mulley (Hyde). 

Attendance: 1483 (308 from Tranmere)

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