11:45AM, Thursday 09 December 2021
Maidenhead failed to take their chances as they slipped to disappointing 1-0 home defeat against Bournemouth on Saturday, and captain Phil Cowell afterwards admitted they're now in a real scrap to avoid relegation.
After a slow start to the season Maids did pick up several encouraging results to lift themselves up the South Central Men's Premier Division 1, but injuries and unavailability have counted against them in recent weeks and Saturday's defeat was their fourth on the spin.
In that run they've suffered heavy losses to Oxford University (6-0), Trojans (4-1) and Henley (5-0) – when many of their first team squad were missing – and although they were much improved on Saturday, the defeat leaves them level on points with bottom of the table Milton Keynes ahead of this weekend's ‘six-pointer’ between the sides.
“We were disappointed to lose on Saturday,” said Cowell. “We defended their penalty corners really well in the first half and came out and dominated in the second. We created numerous chances, but they scored a well-taken goal on the counterattack and held on for the final 10 minutes.
“It's been a tough few weeks for those of us who have been playing, and it's been frustrating and hard to motivate ourselves because so many people have been away or unavailable.
“For some of those heavy losses we only had eight or nine first team players available and against Oxford we came up against 16 20-year-olds who train twice a week, and it was just too much for us.”
Maids got back to being competitive on Saturday, but the result didn't match the performance. This weekend they’ll look to boost morale ahead of the Christmas break with a victory at bottom of the table Milton Keynes. Cowell knows it will be a scrap.
“The Bournemouth game shows we can compete,” he said. “Once we get a few players back there’s the potential for us to work our way back up the table, but it's going to be a bit of a scrap to stay up now.
“It’s just been availability that’s cost us, but it's a tight league from seventh down and if we can string a few results together we’ll be OK.
“Milton Keynes are level with us on points. It’s a bit of a six-pointer really. They’ve struggled this year but, in the past, have had quite a strong team so perhaps they've had similar issues to us. But they’ll look at our results and see we’ve lost four on the bounce so will come into the game feeling quite confident. It should be a good game.”
Maidenhead and Slough travellers have long been waiting for the arrival of Crossrail to whisk them quickly into central London.