10:25PM, Tuesday 04 September 2018
Josh Kelly in action against Bromley on Saturday. Pic credit Mick Vogel.
Maidenhead United 2, Eastleigh 0
Josh Kelly gave further evidence of his burgeoning talent at this level, netting twice just before the break to settle this game in the Magpies’ favour.
There was little to pick between the two sides as the contest headed towards the interval but, in the space of 60 seconds, Kelly changed all that.
Racing onto a through-ball from Christian Smith in the 43rd minute he calmly took the ball around keeper Graham Stack, before having the composure to check back inside the covering defender and walk the ball into the unguarded net.
The 19-year-old proved too hot to handle once again moments later when he again found space on the left side of the Spitfires’ area. This time Stack made the save, but the ball cannoned back into the path of the forward who took a touch to get the ball out of his feet before smashing it high into the net.
The half-time whistle sounded shortly afterwards and the Magpies had a commanding lead in what had been an even game for the most part.
Eastleigh, who sat just a point and a place above the Magpies before kick-off, had the best of the early openings. Michael Green pinged a shot against the outside of the post in the ninth minute after collecting Cavaghn Miley’s beautifully judged through-ball. And they really should have led in the 20th minute when Mark Yeates blazed over the bar with the goal at his mercy following a shaky clearance from Ayo Obileye, playing against his former club.
Jordan Archer, playing his first full game after signing on loan from Bury FC last week, might have done better with Nana Owusu’s cross in the 21st minute, but he side-footed wide on the stretch under pressure from the Spitfires’ defence.
Kelly then gave a glimpse of what was to come when he beat a couple of players on the edge of the area and fired off a goal-bound shot that was blocked on the half-hour.
The Magpies might have killed the game off in the 52nd minute, when Archer came within inches of turning home Ryan Upward's dangerous cross. The ball was put out for a corner kick from which Kelly collected Archer’s chest down and arrowed another effort in on goal but this time Stack was equal to it.
After their late capitulation in Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Bromley, Maidenhead looked nervy at times as they sought to close the game out. Carl Pentney, who had a very solid game between the sticks, got across goal well to keep out a Yeates free-kick on the hour mark, while the same player was denied by a man-mountain challenge from Obileye with 15 minutes to play.
United had a couple of decent chances in the second half. Remy Clerima went close with a header that Stack palmed into the air, and the home side failed to force the ball home amid a scrum of bodies. Then, as the clock ticked toward 90 minutes, Upward won the ball with a sliding challenge and advanced on goal, however, his effort was high, wide and not particularly handsome. There was still time for Pentney to distinguish himself with one last flying save from Yeates’ curling free-kick and that all but extinguished Eastleigh’s challenge.
The game was temporarily halted in the second half while a drone flew overhead, something the referee had to report to security before the match could get back underway.
A satisfying night for the Magpies and a third win from four matches. After a poor start to the season there are positive signs that the side are starting to gel and this win lifts them to 14th in the table ahead of Saturday’s visit to Barnet. Like the Magpies Barnet are in fine form having won their last four matches. They sit just above the Magpies in 13th.
Maidenhead United: Pentney, Clerima, Steer, Odametey, Obileye, Kelly (Akintunde 68'), Upward, Owusu (Mulley 90'), Massey, Smith, Archer. Subs not used: Alves, Worsfold, Cole.
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