09:00AM, Sunday 10 January 2021
One of the most unique seasons in living memory is certainly posing some challenges for Maidenhead United’s management team and squad, however, CEO Jon Adams says the Magpies are not the only club having to contend with issues caused by COVID-19.
United’s festive and new year fixture list has had to be ripped up due to COVID cases at rival clubs, forcing the Magpies to stage friendly matches this week against Brentford B and Ebbsfleet United.
The postponement of fixtures means they’ll have played just one league match in six weeks, the 4-0 battering of Wealdstone on Boxing Day, in what is usually one of the busiest periods of the campaign. This is likely to lead to fixture congestion further down the line, but Adams says the club won’t be the only one having to cope with a hectic schedule of matches.
They’re set to host Yeovil Town in their next match at York Road on Saturday week (January 16).
“It’s frustrating that we’ve had a few fixtures postponed in the last few weeks,” he said. “It’s clearly a challenge to maintain fitness and sharpness when you’re not playing matches.
“We’ve arranged a couple of friendlies to make sure we’re able to maintain the momentum that we’ve got now. We’re very pleased with the progress the team has made over the first third of the season and the results have been incredibly positive.
“The squad is in a good place and we’ve got some players returning from injury as well. The friendlies will help with that in giving them some game time in advance of getting back to the league programme.
“It’s difficult but every team is going to have to contend with these challenges. It’s a unique season.”
Maidenhead will continue to play matches through lockdown, but Adams said they must be prepared to adapt at short notice should COVID issues emerge in the coming weeks, either at rival teams or within their camp.
“We have to be prepared to play as and when, and we have to be prepared to change our plans quickly should COVID emerge as an issue with some of our fixtures,” he said. “We’re going to have quite a heavy and congested fixture list from the middle of January, and we’ll have six or seven weeks of playing Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday, Tuesday. But there are lots of clubs in a similar, if not worse position than us.
“We will need to pull together, manage everyone’s game time and ensure we don’t suffer from burn out.”
Maidenhead remain in the play-off places despite their lack of recent action; however, the National League table is incredibly tight, with only five points separating them from 18th placed Dagenham & Redbridge. While they’ve made a solid start to the campaign, two thirds of their matches are still to be played and there is ‘plenty more work to be done’.
“We still have a long way to go this season,” he said. “The league is very tight. We might be in sixth position, but there’s only three points between us and 16th/17th. It’s very tight and there is a lot of hard work to go yet.”