Injuries and illness have made this Devonshire's most challenging season as manager

The return of key men from injury has been instrumental to Maidenhead United’s recent resurgence in the National League, says manager Alan Devonshire.

His side claimed an impressive and highly valued three points against league leaders FC Halifax Town on Saturday, lifting them nine points clear of the relegation zone and throwing another spanner into the works of a possible title challenger.

Their unbeaten start to the new year was brought to an end by Stockport County on Tuesday, but United played well in the first half and should carry some confidence from that into Saturday’s game at Wrexham.

This season has been one of Devonshire’s most challenging as manager, with injuries, illness and suspensions leaving him woefully short-handed during certain spells of the season. In the lead up to Christmas the side lost six games from seven in all competitions and Devonshire had to constantly juggle his line-up to cope with new injuries.

Throw a COVID outbreak in the camp into the mix, and players struggling to regain full fitness after contracting the virus, and all the ingredients were there for a disappointing campaign.

However, the return of key figures to the fold, including defenders Will De Havilland and Ryheem Sheckleford, has gone some way to turning around the club’s fortunes. Following the victory against the Shaymen at the weekend, Devonshire said: “At the end of the day, we’ve got a few boys back and they’re making a difference. Certain boys are also coming into form now, so I’m pleased. I’m pleased because it’s been a tough old season with all the injuries and COVID.

“It’s the worst season I’ve had as a manager in all the time I’ve had here. We’ve had some key players out for a long time now, but we’ve got some back today and another two will return next week.

“So, things are looking a lot better than they did a few weeks ago. We probably had enough chances to kill the game off but I’m not going to moan about that. It was good to keep a clean sheet at home. We beat the team that were going to be top if they got a draw on Tuesday, and we’ve won against the team that are top now.”

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