06:55PM, Saturday 10 February 2018
Maidenhead United 1, Torquay United 2
Maidenhead United failed to take their chances on a heavy York Road pitch as Elliott Romain stole all three points for Torquay United with a late winner.
Ryan Upward had earlier levelled with a brilliant free-kick to cancel out Aaron Barnes’ equally spectacular strike, but Maidenhead will feel pig sick to have taken nothing from a match they gave so much to.
They remain 11 points above the drop zone ahead of Saturday’s trip to bottom club Guiseley, while Torquay edge closer to safety with their second win in a row.
The Magpies started slowly on their own patch, feeling the effects of their long trip to play Stockport County in the FA Trophy in midweek. The makeshift Magpies defence, which was without Alan Massey, Rene Steer and Remy Clerima dealt well with Torquay’s early forays into their half, while at the other end Sam Barratt missed a couple of chances to give the hosts the lead. His first shot cannoned off the crossbar, after running onto a long through ball, while Vincent Dorel denied him with a comfortable save, after good work from Max Kilman.
There was a touch of controversy about Torquay’s opener in the 34th minute. Jake Goodman went down heavily in the box as the Gulls swooped forward, but referee Joe Hull allowed the game to continue and more than 10 seconds later – with Goodman lying prostrate in the area – Barnes sent a wonderful curling effort beyond the outstretched hand of Pentney.
Barratt had the chance to respond for Maidenhead, but lifted the easiest of the his chances in the first half over the bar, after wriggling away from his markers.
Torquay really should have killed off the Magpies challenge in the early moments of the second half. Substitute Connor Lemonheigh-Evans tested Pentney with a low drive, which the keeper did well to hold onto, then Lemonheigh-Evans smashed a shot just wide of the post after space opened up in front of him on the edge of the box.
Those misses looked even more costly when United levelled in the 68th minute. Harry Pritchard had gone close four minutes earlier from James Comley’s pass – but was denied by Dorel. Then, after the Magpies were awarded a free-kick on the edge of the area, Upward seized his chance to score for a second home game running with a glorious bending free-kick that gave Dorel no chance.
The Magpies’ tails were now up, and Barratt came within inches of scoring when his free-kick flew just wide of the post with 20 minutes to play. He then lifted another attempt over the bar from the edge of the Gulls’ penalty area. It just wasn’t his day in front of goal.
Then, with the game heading for a draw which might have been fairest on both sides, there was a late twist, when a Gulls’ corner was met by Brett Williams’ whose low drive into the crowded box was helped in by Romain. That came with around three minutes to play and the Magpies weren’t able to forge one final chance in the final minutes.
A disappointed Alan Devonshire reflected: “I can’t fault the players. The first goal I can’t believe the referee hasn’t stopped the game, when I’ve got a boy lying prostrate in the six-yard box. But I can’t ask for no more than what they’ve given me today. After what happened on Tuesday. We go again, we recharged the batteries. When we got the equaliser it looked like only one team was going to win it. I’m disappointed for them because they’ve given me everything.”
Torquay boss Gary Owers added: “I think we deserved it. We got the lead through a great goal from young Aaron (Barnes). Second half we played really well going down the slope. We didn’t score when we had our good spell and have let them back in the game. At that point you thought we might get a point, or maybe even lose it, but we kept going and got the winner in the end.”
Extended highlights uploaded to YouTube by FC Video
Maidenhead United (4-4-2)
Pentney 8, Peters 7 (Hyde 65 8’), Smith 9, Goodman 8, Kilman 7, Odametey 7, Comley 7, Upward 8, Pritchard 7, Marks 7, Barratt 7 (Emmanuel 87’ 6). Subs not used: Steer, Owusu, Clifton
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All lines are currently blocked between London Paddington and Reading after a person was hit by a train between Maidenhead and Slough.