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Hall of Fame: Maidenhead United Juniors teams make a flying start to 2020

Maidenhead United Juniors teams certainly made a flying start to the New Year at the weekend.

The u8s Blacks (pictured) played their first game after stepping up a division and carried on as they left off in 2019 with a great performance at home to Shinfield Rangers. Blacks created several good chances in the first quarter with the Shinfield ‘keeper making several blocks and hitting the post twice. The deadlock was broken in the second quarter when Sam - in his first game since breaking his leg - rifled home. The lead was doubled soon after when Lachlan scored direct from a corner and Jude added a fine strike after a lovely ball from Lachlan. Shinfield pushed in the final quarter and Noah made 2 great saves. Manager Tony was delighted: “all the players were excellent today, they worked hard and played good football. Player of the match (POTM) went to Sam for his goal and successful return to playing. A very proud coach!”

The u8s Whites got off to a flying start against Eversley & California, their first game after being promoted to Section B.  Henry opened the scoring with a clinical finish. Fahad went on to make a first class sliding tackle to deny Eversley their equaliser.  Polishing off a strong first quarter team performance, Dylan scored his first goal of the season to the elation of the Coach and supporters.  In the next quarter the Whites were on the back foot but Jude in particular put in a superb defensive performance to rescue his team.  In the third quarter, Finley and Joe's partnership shone through with a goal apiece. Coach Byron was blown away by the boys performance in the final quarter, with Dougie making two first class saves before Finley went on to convert four quality goals with three sublime assists from Joe. A great overall team performance with POTM going to Finley for his finishing finesse and Dylan for breaking his season duck.

U9s Diamonds also had their first game at a higher level in Section against a very strong Eldon Celtic outfit.  Manager Tom summarised the match: “the majority of the players really showed that this was the right level for them as they came back to dominate possession in Q3.  Stepping up to this division will ultimately develop the kids and make them sharper as they have less time on the ball and need to work even more effectively as a team to succeed. Freddie and Isa showed a brilliant attitude throughout and never stopped running and Mia was our Player of the Match; she showed that she is one of the top girls in local grass-roots football by holding her own throughout the game, making some crucial tackles with some intelligent passes and positioning.”

The u12s Blacks (Pictured) had another key match against Windlesham United Rams.  In a physical and frenetic first half, both sides played some great pass and move football. Blacks had a lot of success on the wings, particularly the left with George proving a thorn in the side of the opposition.  The better chances fell to Maidenhead but a slip in concentration gifted Windlesham a goal, whereupon a few heads dropped for a time but a couple of positional and tactical changes at Half Time saw Blacks reinvigorated for the second half. A goal from Ben followed after a great corner delivery by George.  Blacks worked tirelessly on the defensive side of their game and limited the opposition to a handful of shots on goal all game before Adam stepped up to score a penalty kick.  A great game of football for the Blacks to start 2020.

The u13s Diamonds enjoyed an excellent 8-2 win against a strong Laurel Park side. Manager Simon praised his side’s “dribbling and strength on the ball. Really great to watch.”  Diamonds opened strongly, with a change in formation creating a number of wasted chances. Diamonds continued to play some really positive football, going in three up at half time following another penalty save by Freddie.  A well contested second half saw the Diamonds coaches rotate the teams effectively and counter attack with purpose, adding another five goals. Simon was understandably delighted: “Lots of good performances but Jake really shone with his strong tackles and astute positioning coming on at right back. So happy for him as he works so hard!  The change in formation and the boys being more sharp and hungry after their double session on Thursday give us a great platform to achieve the results we deserve and even more smiles in 2020, creating a winning mentality.  Shine on you Crazy Diamonds!”

The U13s Blades meanwhile travelled to Harefield.  It was a tough game for the Blades, with only 10 players against a full Harefield team.  Blades went for a new formation with a diamond midfield and wing backs, and the team adapted well to come in at the break 1-0 to the good, with a goal from Tom. In the second half Harefield came back at the Blades but the team absorbed the pressure for ten minutes only for tired legs to start kicking in, resulting in two goals for Harefield. However a nice through ball to Charlie saw him run on to finish and make the score 2-2. POTM went to Dillon Williams-Lock for his determination and hard work as Centre-Back.

The U13s Whites had a good start to the New Year with a hard fought away win at Henley. Whites started slowly with the team finding it a real physical challenge to cope with Henley's 2 very tall, powerful runners in midfield.  Whites however got into stride midway through the first half with Connor scoring from distance and although Henley equalised late in the first half after a defensive error Maidenhead dominated the 2nd half and scored two further goals through Alfie's penalty and Lennon's close range finish before Henley scored right at the end from a penalty of their own.  POTM for the Whites was Lennon who performed superbly in midfield.

The u14’s enjoyed a 2-1 victory over Reading Rangers at Cox Green in the EBFA. Maidenhead took an early lead when Patrick sent a great cross in for top scorer Morgan to finish. Maidenhead should have increased the lead in the first half but some good goalkeeping kept Rangers in a tight game.  Morgan scored his second, latching onto a clearance from Jorvun and nicked the ball past the goalkeeper. Although Reading pulled a goal back with five minutes left, the Maidenhead team held on for a well-deserved win.  Player of the Match went to Morgan for his two goals and all-round hard-working performance.

The u15s Panthers had a trip to Chinnor and on a boggy pitch they moved the ball around well, with some great passing triangles that ended up producing their first well struck goal. The second came soon after from a great cross into the box from player of the match Ryan who showed great skill and determination. In the final minutes of the first half, Panthers looked to have switched off a little allowing Chinnor to make a breakthrough to score their first goal. In the second period, Panthers found their first half rhythm to score another two well worked goals. Chinnor did manage to score once more from a penalty to make the final score 4-2 in favour of a Panthers sides captained by Charlie.

U15s Colts had their first game of 2020 against Bracknell Cavaliers FC, winning 4-3 in a thriller.  The Colts were eager to get going for the second half of the season and started the game brightly with slick passing football.  Twenty minutes in, a huge 60 yard pass from Bracknell’s goalkeeper left the Colts defence flat-footed as the striker ran through to score past goalkeeper Ryan and although the Cavaliers added a second some neat footwork in midfield saw the ball fall to captain Patrick who slotted the ball to reduce the arrears.  A change of formation from a 5-4-1 to 4-4-2 was implemented.  An equaliser came thanks to the Colts Captain Patrick whose energy and constant running all game was evident for all to see.  Another huge kick from the Bracknell goalkeeper saw a carbon copy of the first goal, this time via a deflection to make it 3-2 to Bracknell with 20 minutes left of the game and the Colts unbeaten record in doubt. A reshuffle of personnel in midfield and defence seemed to inject a little more energy and the Colts took charge with Josh in midfield winning the physical battle, his shot nestling into the bottom corner after a jinking run.  With time running out, a great run and brilliant cross by Luca on the right found Patrick who nipped in first to quickly fire the ball toward the Bracknell goal.  The Cavaliers ‘keeper saved brilliantly with his feet but the ball fell to the ever-present Nick to slot home to snatch a remarkable win to put the Colts nine points clear of any nearest title challengers.  Coach Gaz was beyond proud: “I am constantly amazed by these lads, they have the desire and talent to go a long way and certain deserve their place proudly at the top of Division Three”.

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