12:30PM, Thursday 27 January 2022
At first glance Tuesday’s 3-0 defeat at Stockport County looks like a drubbing for Maidenhead United at the new National League leaders.
However, it was anything but that for Alan Devonshire's in-form Magpies, who made the Hatters work incredibly hard for their points.
Had the visitors taken a first half lead, as they did in their victories over Chesterfield and FC Halifax Town – and could easily have done at Edgerley Park – it may well have been a different story.
The in-form Josh Kelly saw an effort on goal deflected wide, Alan Massey – who’s set to make his 300th appearance for the Magpies at Wrexham on Saturday – hit the crossbar with a header and Emile Acquah passed up a third gilt edged opportunity when he was sent clean through.
Instead, momentum swung to the home side a minute after the break when Antoni Sarcevic’s header wrong-footed Dan Gyollai and, chasing a route back into the contest, the Magpies left themselves a little open on the counter, something County ruthlessly exploited with Ryan Croasdale and John Rooney scoring to put the gloss on a rather harsh looking scoreline.
Reflecting on a disappointing result, but satisfying display, in the first half at least, assistant boss Ryan Peters said: “Since the turn of the year we’ve been a lot more solid, but also a lot more adventurous.
“We attack with a lot more purpose, but our defending has been a lot more regimented.
“Going to Stockport we weren’t in fear of anything and if you look at the first half, we’ve had three glorious opportunities to go into the break 1-0 up, 2-0 up, possibly 3-0 up.
“But then the game invariably changes. Stockport knew they’d ridden their luck in the first half, so they came out knowing they had to step things up in the second. Unfortunately, for us, our energy sapped a little bit, and we couldn’t take it up to another level. They’re a good side, so once they get the first, they go on to get a second and a third late on.
“Unfortunately for us it wasn’t meant to be. Although it’s a loss, and we’re never happy to lose, the boys have given so much and we’re not going to dwell on this.
He added: “As far as I’m concerned we’ve shown we’re not just also rans. We’re not just in the National League to make up the numbers. If you take us lightly, we’re going to pick up points. It wasn’t to be on Tuesday but we’re most definitely competing and going to these big clubs and showing we can be a force to be reckoned with.
“We could have been 3-0 up at half-time and Stockport couldn’t have grumbled with that, but they then went out and showed why they’re top of the league with their second half performance.”
Hollywood came to Maidenhead the last time the Magpies played Wrexham, with the home side claiming a memorable 3-2 win in front of the Welsh side’s owners, Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney. That defeat will have stung Wrexham, who have spent big this season and remain in the promotion hunt, and Peters knows they’ll be out for revenge at the Racecourse Ground on Saturday.
“They’ll have been disappointed in the manner we beat them at our place,” he said. “So will be doing everything they can to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
“From our point of view, it’s a chance to get back to winning ways. We won’t be going there to make up the numbers. We’re in good form, we’ve been impressive, and we’d like to carry on in that vein.”
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