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Clifton's late header earns Maidenhead United crucial victory at Sutton United

Clifton's late header earns Maidenhead United crucial victory at Sutton United

Sutton United 0, Maidenhead United 1

Maidenhead United won for the first time in the league since September 25, as Adrian Clifton's late header earned them a hugely important three points at Gander Green Lane and moved them out of the bottom four.

United came into the clash with Sutton off the back of two week's rest, having lost 4-0 to Portsmouth in the FA Cup at York Road, but they looked the fresher of the two sides, with Sutton looking leggy and devoid of ideas after their midweek exertions in their own FA Cup replay defeat at Slough Town.

The Magpies had a shot cleared off the line from Josh Kelly in the first half, and struck the crossbar through Ryan Bird's close range header in the second before Clifton was brought off the bench to net an 85th minute winner.

The striker shrugged off the attentions of Jamie Collins and Charlie Clough to head past Jamie Butler from fellow Montserrat international James Comley's searching free-kick.

The result was no less than the Magpies deserved following a resilient defensive display that restricted Paul Doswell's side to half chances at best. Alfie Kilgour and Seth Twumasi were both handed league debuts by Devonshire and played their part in a watertight defensive display.

Ayo Obileye, pressed into a central midfield role to good effect once again, had the game's first opportunity, striking the ball just over the crossbar on the half-volley in the opening 10 minutes. Kelly should have given the side the lead midway through the half when he took advantage of some confusion in the Sutton defence to go through on goal, but, having beaten Butler with his shot, Dale Bennett got back to hook the shot off the goalline.

Paul Doswell's side belatedly came into the contest, with Twumasi blocking bravely from Wayne Brown's shot, and Harry Beautyman sending a header looping over the crossbar in the 33rd minute, the hosts first real attempt of the match.

The visitors had their best spell in the minutes after half-time, when Remy Clerima was left exasperated after heading Max Worsfold's fine cross just wide of the mark in the 50th minute. Three minutes later and the Magpies came within a brush of paint of taking the lead when Ryan Bird found some space in the area to head Obileye's knock back onto the crossbar.

The game opened up in the final half hour, when Sutton enjoyed their best spell and looked the more likely winners. Craig Dundas directed a far post header well over the bar from a Beautyman corner and Charlie Clough nodded another ball wide, but in general the Magpies' defence coped admirably well.

Then, after being thrown into the fray for Kelly for the final 15 minutes, Clifton was clipped for a foul close to the right touchline. Comley swung in a beautiful cross and Clifton lost his marker to power home a header. Cue delirium for the Magpies fans camped behind the goal and relief and elation for the management team in the dug out.

Sutton threw the kitchen sink at the Magpies in the final five minutes, and then five extra minutes of injury-time, but the visitors held on, with Kieron Cadogan's wayward attempt in stoppage time the closest they came to a leveller.

The final whistle brought more relief for the Magpies, and an end to a miserable run of six straight league defeats. Victory lifts them out of the relegation zone to fifth from bottom ahead of a crucial run of home matches, starting at home to Ebbsfleet United on Tuesday night, 7.45pm kick-off.

Afterwards a delighted Devonshire said: “We put in a real shift and we did alright. When we hit the post I thought it was going to be one of them days, but Clifton’s come up with the winner, and Carl (Pentney) hasn’t had a lot to do in fairness

“We’ve had a really bad month. It’s probably been my worst as a manager. To have this win, I’m really pleased for the fans and I’m pleased for Peter (Griffin). It’s up to us now to push on. We’ve got three really big home games to come.

“We had the game’s best chances. They’ve had a few attempts from distance which Carl has been comfortable with so I’m delighted with that. I’m glad for the players. They needed that. Confidence has been low this last month with certain things going against us, but today we got what we deserved I feel.”

Maidenhead United: Pentney, Twumasi, Clerima (Alves 75'), Steer, Massey, Kilgour, Obileye, Comley, Worsfold, Kelly (Clifton 75'), Bird. Subs not used: Cole, Peters, Owusu. 

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Selected other scores:

Slough Town 2, Weston-super-Mare 3

Ashford Town 0, Marlow 3

Ascot United 4, Windsor 2

Binfield 1, Flackwell Heath 2 (Friday)

Holyport 5, Chinnor 0

Penn & Tylers Green 1, Burnham 4

Wigan 0, Reading 0

Wycombe Wanderers 3, Shrewsbury 2

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