08:00AM, Friday 25 October 2019
Midfielder James Comley heaped praise on the shoulders of Josh Kelly this week, after the striker’s brace helped Maidenhead United beat Wealdstone to set up an FA Cup first- round tie against Rotherham United at York Road.
Beating the Stones on their own turf was motivation enough for Comley, but he firmly believes the Magpies are capable of putting out League 1 Rotherham in the next round and advancing to the second round of the competition for the first time since the 1886/87 season.
Comley felt the Magpies had learnt lessons from Saturday’s 1-1 draw with The Stones at York Road, and they implemented them to good effect on Tuesday night, cutting off the supply line from the likes of Danny Green and Billy Clifford to take control of the tie.
And, in Kelly, they had a striker whose clinical finishes either side of the break ensured progression to the next round long before the 90 minutes were up.
The Stones were reduced to 10 men when Jacob Mendy was shown a straight red card just before half-time for a foul on Remy Clerima. But by that stage the Magpies already had a stranglehold on the tie and might have been out of sight had Clerima not been denied a second goal by Aston Oxborough’s fantastic save.
“We knew when we were drawn against them (Wealdstone) that it would be a tough game because they’ve been doing well in the league,” saidComley yesterday (Wednesday).
“We gave them a little too much respect in the first tie. We gave them a chance to play and express themselves.
“But last night we knew more about them. We got close to them and pressed them well, creating a few chances in the process.
“After the first 10 minutes we got to grips with them and were able to press without
exposing ourselves. Once we managed to do that they didn’t have much they could do.”
Comley went on to say that Kelly can cause ‘havoc’ for opposition defences, and manager Alan Devonshire will certainly be hoping that’s the case over the coming weeks. If the forward can get on one of his scoring runs it should help the Magpies climb up the National League table.
“Josh has had an unfortunate start to the season,” said Comley. “He’s struggled with a few injuries but he’s one of the players that’s really quite different for us. He possesses that pace and is a bit more direct.
“He doesn’t look for the ball into his feet, he’s usually looking to get in behind and to create havoc with his direct running. He’s a great outlet for us and, as you know with Josh, his finishing when he does get into good positions is normally very good.”
United now look forward to a home tie with League 1 Rotherham over the weekend of November 9 (date and time to be confirmed).
Looking ahead to the tie, Comley added: “I don’t really think we used it as motivation. For me in cup competitions it’s not about who you’ve got next.
“Don’t get me wrong, if we’d drawn Arsenal in the next round and knew you were going to be playing them if you won a replay, you’d want to get there. But you want to go as far as you can go.
“If we can play the way we know we can and frustrate them and hit them on the counter attack, which is more our game anyway, then, on our day, we can probably get a result against a lot of teams.”
Before that, Maidenhead host in-form Solhull Moors at York Road on Saturday.
They’ve been much improved in recent weeks and have climbed back into the National League play-off places off the back of some impressive results.
“We know the quality they possess,” added Comley.
“But most games are pretty tight and if we can keep things tight and keep a clean sheet, we’ve got a chance of scoring against anyone.”
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