07:00PM, Wednesday 26 February 2020
Maidenhead slumped to a second defeat in a row on Tuesday night, losing 3-1 to Ebbsfleet United in a match that was vital to both sides' National League survival hopes.
United were looking to make amends from Saturday’s disappointing collapse against Aldershot Town and knew that victory over Kevin Watson’s side could lift them up five places in the league. And they looked to be on track for just that when Jaydn Mundle-Smith prodded home a finish to open the scoring in the eighth minute.
But a stunning first half turnaround handed Kevin Watson’s side victory at York Road with Gozie Ugwu scoring a brace and Josh Umerah netting one himself. The loss leaves Maidenhead with just a one point buffer over the relegation spots.
“We were poor on Saturday and we were poor again today,” said assistant manager Ryan Peters.
“We started really well. Eight minutes in we scored a goal and you think go on, get a second and a third to put the game to bed. But then their keeper went down and he’s down for a little while and it seemed like all energy went out of us. It gave Ebbsfleet the impetus and we had nothing after that.”
It was a shaky opening to the game for Fleet’s goalkeeper David Gregory whose clearance in the seventh minute was blocked off by Danny Whitehall before he recovered to grab the loose ball. But two minutes later, he had no such luck when he appeared to be fouled in the build up to Mundle-Smith’s bundled goal.
Gregory remained down in his six yard box and after five minutes of treatment needed to be replaced by Jordan Holmes. The break in play seemed to kill all momentum Maidenhead temporarily had and Ebbsfleet began to run their hosts ragged.
On the 17th minute, the visitors recovered possession in the middle of the park and sent Adam Mekki on his way down the left wing. With great strength, the midfielder managed to shrug off Sheckleford and poke a ball through to Umerah who on the turn hit a curled effort past Taye Ashby-Hammond.
The Fleet kept coming and just ten minutes later took the lead with Mekki at the heart of the action again. A battling run from the midfielder ended with a weighted ball into the box which Ugwu brought down and buried in the Maidenhead net.
He wasn’t done there and fired in his second straight from the restart when Fleet recovered possession and Ugwu had the time to curl in another impressive finish into the far corner. Maidenhead almost capitulated when Ashby-Hammond misjudged his clearance at the back with Alan Massey tasked to hack away the goalbound ball.
The Magpies only really started to come to life in the game’s final quarter, but by then, Ebbsfleet had turned attack into defence and were impenetrable at the back as they preserved all three points.
“Towards the end of the game Ebbsfleet were happy to pin themselves back in their box and defend manfully,” added Peters.
“It was easier then for us to get the ball closer to their goal and take shots. It wasn’t the case earlier on in the game when they were pressing us high in the pitch.
“There’s more we need to do, we’re not going to get dejected now. We’ve got 11 cup finals and we need to make sure we’re positive in all 11.
“We’ve got one of the best gaffers in the league, he’s been there and done it. Until he’s worried, I won’t be. He knows he’ll get this job done.”
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