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Devonshire: We're disappointed by FA Cup exit but look how far we've come

THE disappointment Maidenhead United’s management team and players felt at bowing out of the FA Cup to former winners Coventry City shows just how far the club has come in a short space of time, says Alan Devonshire.

The Magpies failed to reach the standards they’ve set for themselves over the past couple of seasons as Jordan Ponticelli’s first-half brace sent them tumbling out of the famous competition at the first round stage.

But the Magpies more than played their part in the tie at the half-empty Ricoh Arena and, had they shown more of a killer instinct in front of goal, it might well have been a different story.

Devonshire wasn’t allowing himself to dwell on the result this week and hopes his players have managed to get the disappointment out of their system, because he’ll need them to be ‘right on it’ to get a result at home to Gateshead on Saturday. The Heed are languishing towards the bottom of the National League table but Devonshire says that shouldn’t fool anyone and expects them to establish themselves as a top-half side under new manager Steve Watson.

 “Listen, I think Sunday was just a case of how far we’ve come in two and a half years,” said Devonshire. “That we’re disappointed we haven’t got a result away to Coventry City.

“Looking back we had the chances but we couldn’t take them and we move on. Gateshead are a good team in good form but we’ve got to try and bounce back now.

“We have to make sure it doesn’t affect us and ensure we keep picking up points in the league.”

As a former cup winner himself, Devonshire would have loved to have taken this crop of players – the best he’s ever coached – further in the FA Cup, but the league has been the priority and picking up points is the players’ bread and butter.

He said: “It (going out of the FA Cup) caught up with us two seasons ago, but I hope it won’t this time. At the end of the day we’ve had a good day at Coventry. The fans were quality again. I want to mention them because they’ve been unbelievable this season.”

The manager should have the majority of his squad fit and available for Saturday’s match, but Sean Marks may have to wait for his return to the starting line-up as he continues his recovery from a knee injury. Sam Barratt’s inclusion will depend on his recovery from his exertions for the England C team this week in the International Challenge Trophy Final against Slovakia in Zilina.

 “It will be a hard game against Gateshead,” said Devonshire.

“Their form has picked up under their new manager and they’re unbeaten in three or four.

“This league is so tight but we’ve just got to keep picking up points and try to get to the 50-point mark as quick as we can. I hope we can (bounce back). I’m always confident in the team but it will be a difficult game on Saturday. We’ve had them watched and they’re in good form. They’ve got people who can hurt you and we’ll have to be right on it. They’re a top-half side, don’t let where they are in the league fool you. They’ve been a top-half side for the last five years or so.”

He added: “Marksy may not start on Saturday. I might start him in one of the games against Woking or Eastleigh next week. Harold (Odamatey) wasn’t fully fit on Sunday but should be ok for Saturday and Sam Barratt is away on England C duty.

“He’s travelling back on Thursday (today).”

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Maidenhead winger Sam Barratt started for England C in their International Challenge Trophy final against Slovakia in Zilina yesterday (Wednesday).

Barratt started on the right side of a front three for the Non League Three Lions but was substituted at half-time as England went down to a 4-1 defeat following the first half dismissal of defender Andrew Cartwright.

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