05:00PM, Friday 03 December 2021
Maidenhead went down to their ninth league defeat of the season on Saturday, losing 26-15 at Brighton, but director of rugby, Myke Parrott, couldn't have been prouder of the side's performance and said no one could fault their efforts.
Cheered on by about 30 Maids' old boys, the youthful Maidenhead team gave as good as they got against an accomplished Brighton side and held a narrow lead with around 10 minutes to play.
However, the hosts' experience told in the closing stages and Maids were edged out in another competitive contest. Niall Crossley scored Maids' only try and the rest of their points came from kicks from Conor Graney.
“It was a tough one to take,” said Parrott. “We were leading with about 10 minutes to go, and I felt we were pretty unlucky actually.
“The conditions were really tough; it was windy and very cold. We got an early injury to young Bill Morgan, who was making his debut. He got knocked out, so another debutant came on Max McMinn, he usually plays 10, had to play wing for an hour, but he did a great job.
“We had a really young side out, a very small side, and we said beforehand, all we wanted was a performance and 100 per cent effort, and they gave us everything.
“They were cheered on by about 30 ex-players, which was amazing to see all those legends come down, and I think all of them would agree that there was no lack of effort out there.
“It was just that the more experienced, bigger, stronger team turned the screw with about 10 minutes to go and scored a good try, and then they got a penalty to make it more comfortable. They just about deserved it on balance, and we didn't utilise the wind as much as we'd have liked, but it's all about learning.”
Had Maids travelled to Brighton with a more experienced side - the squad this term has been decimated by injury - they may well have come away with victory, but Maids' young players certainly didn't let themselves down.
With the threat of relegation having been taken off the table this season, head coach David Mobbs-Smith has had the opportunity to blood promising young players, and Parrott believes the club will see the benefit of this in the seasons to come.
As for this season, Saturday's defeat leaves the club second bottom of the London & South East Premier Division table - following Tunbridge Wells' 36-6 win at bottom of the table CS Stags - but performances are improving and Maids could easily have had one or two more wins to their name having come out on the wrong side of a series of close contests.
“They will learn so much from this year,” added Parrott.
“We've got a free hit. We could quite easily go and get some more experienced players in, and we have a lot on the sidelines through injury now. Or we could give these guys experience and game time and that will stand us in terrific stead in the years to come. They're not letting us down at all. Some of them were disappointed but we just keep saying, 'you guys have been awesome', and I don't care about the mistakes they make on the pitch. These are the players we'll build a squad around in the coming seasons and hopefully some of the more experienced players will return in the coming weeks and our youngsters will continue to learn from playing alongside them.”
This Saturday they'll take on 11th placed Sutton & Epsom at Braywick Park hoping to register their third win of the season and give themselves a boost heading into a couple of tricky looking matches ahead of the Christmas break.
“We've got Sutton & Epsom this Saturday, and then Sevenoaks away and Wimbledon at home, three really tough games, but we'll do what we keep doing, see who's available and fit and we'll have a good crack,” Parrott added
“We scored a brilliant try on Saturday, against the wind, and were really in the ascendancy, probably should have scored again and if we had we'd have probably won the game, but that's rugby.
“It really could have gone our way and if we'd had a few more experienced heads out there we probably would have won it, but we move onto next week and Sutton & Epsom.”