Even the words potential banana skin seemed out of place for Maidenhead United's trip to Daventry Town in the FA Trophy yesterday. Such was Daventry's form this season, particularly at home, in contrast to the Magpie's woeful autumn, that if anything my best hope was for a draw.
Having made a record breaking run to the first round of both national FA competitions Daventry were clearly on a high with the results to get so far combined with superb league form meaning they had won every single match they had played at their futuristic (if a little anodyne) named home, Communications Park, who prior to yesterday I would have assumed was the Korean cousin of Synthesiser Patel.
As often happens, Daventry's success hadn't quite led to the Town taking up the colours en masse with only 97 turning up to their last home game. Perhaps the out of town location of their smart little ground doesn't help, certainly my car load of Magpies had an unscheduled tour of the suburbs of Daventry as we tried to hunt down Communications Park. We eventually located the right exit off the right roundabout to drive up to the end of Browns Road to the ground entrance opposite the municipal recycling dump.
Arriving at the same time as the match officials, it was a relief to see the Maidenhead coach driver had not had any problems with navigation so there were plenty of familiar faces in the bar, which had an odd 80s design, all shiny black tiles and metal.
The ground itself reflected the club's recent county league status with both ends being just a small concrete walkaway with the side facing the club house boasting only a small shelter and two dugouts. Predictably most of the 203 crowd elected to watch the game as close to the bar as possible. A few sat in the temporary looking stands with the majority standing on the club house balcony, the only elevated point in the ground.
This bumper crowd, boosted by a fair few Magpies saw the programmes and even the hot dogs run out with the availability of chips in Emily's Tea Bar (The Talk of the Town) neatly conforming to the non league equation about the number of chips on offer being in inverse proportion to the size of the club,
The game kicked off with United fielding yet another central defensive pairing, injuries, suspensions and departures seeing Jacob Erskine continuing his new role in the middle at the back alongside Devante McKain who has returned once more on loan from Gillingham Town. Right back Bobby Behzadi also returned to the side for the first time in a month to resume his pairing with Leon Solomon on the left. There was a reshuffle in midfield which lined up as Danny Green, Daniel Brown, Adrian Clifton and Harry Grant, whilst up front Michael Malcolm got a rare opportunity to start up front with Richard Pacquette.
Watching the first half through the opposition goal net, I missed little as it became clear that Daventry's sound organisation and application proved to be a good match for their illustrious visitors, and it wasn't until the 34th minute that I registered the first serious on target goal attempt, Elvijs Putnins saving well from Adam Confue.With the bar beckoning for half time, Pacquette appeared to have a opportunity go one on one with Richard Morris in the Daventry goal but decided to chip in to no great effect. Thus the most notable point of the first half appeared to be the fact that Morris had his own sponsor in the local convenience store.
The second half started in much the same vein, with little to distract me from my copiously stuffed bacon roll accompanied by a generous portion of chips. However Maidenhead did began to threaten the Daventry goal, a Clifton effort just ahead of the hour mark forcing a save from the feet of Morris.This proved to be a portentous attack within minutes Maidenhead scored what from to be the winning goal.
A free kick towards the left side of the penalty area was fired goal bound by Green. Morris was able to parry the effort but helpless to stop Malcolm's follow up, the striker swooping on the loose ball to score.That was pretty much it in terms of the action bar the inevitable last minute push for a equaliser which momentarily threatened to wobble the United rearguard. Pacquette then finished the second half as he had the first when presented with a golden opportunity to seal the win in stoppage time. Again with just the keeper to beat, his weak effort was comfortably saved by Morris.
This meant the scoreline accurately reflected an even game of few chances with the Magpies as at Eastbourne making a spell of pressure count midway through the second half. Thus as has often happened the FA Trophy has produced some light relief for the Magpies with the promise of some big fish in the draw for the last 32 helping to alleviate worries of a daunting trip to Sutton United next Saturday.