03:00PM, Thursday 13 January 2022
Pictures: Mike Swift
Maidenhead United boss Alan Devonshire will be hoping his players are in the mood to cause a few upsets in the coming weeks, as they prepare for a raft of matches – both home and away – against sides looking to challenge for promotion.
Having played just twice since the middle of December, the Magpies are desperately short of match practice going into a hectic schedule of four matches in just 11 days. But, when they have managed to get themselves on the pitch in recent weeks, performances have been good.
Their 1-0 home win over Bromley on December 27 lifted the gloom that was in danger of enveloping their season, while Saturday’s 1-1 draw was further evidence the club can drag themselves clear of relegation danger.
The 1-1 draw at the Recreation Ground, which saw Josh Kelly’s goal late in the first half cancelled out by substitute Toby Edser’s strike in the second, lifted the Magpies four points clear of the bottom three and boss Devonshire was more than satisfied with the display.
His focus now switches to home games against second placed Chesterfield on Tuesday and new National League leaders Halifax Town the following Saturday, knowing that results, points, and positive performances are required to maintain the club’s current momentum through to the final weeks of January.
“I think it was probably a fair result,” he said.
“We were the better side in the first half, and they were probably the better side in the second, so we’ll take that,” said Devonshire earlier in the week.
“It’s our second game in a month so we got a little bit tired and that’s when they scored. But it’s a point and after the win against Bromley, it’s four points out of six.
“We’ve now got four massive games. We’ve got Chesterfield and then Halifax, who are second and first. Then we’ve got eighth-placed Stockport County and Wrexham who are fifth. We will have to be ready for that.
“I don’t mind playing on Saturday and Tuesday because games get you fit but we’ve only played two games in a month which isn’t ideal. But the atmosphere is good, the mood is a lot better so we will see how we go.”
To stay match sharp ahead of next week’s matches, Maidenhead played Brentford’s B side in a behind-closed-doors friendly on Tuesday, losing 5-1, however, the fixture offered players a chance to press their first team claims, while others got much-needed minutes under their belts on their return from injury.
“The friendly gives me an opportunity to hand minutes to those who need it and we’ve got another couple of trialists coming in to play aswell,” said Devonshire before the match.
“Some of the boys who haven’t played for the last two games are going to get some time on the pitch. It’s ideal to have this friendly as they’re all going to be used in the next couple of weeks, when we play Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday, Tuesday.”