11:00AM, Friday 11 January 2019
James Comley says he’s hoping to put his frustrating recent suspension behind him by driving the Magpies toward National League survival.
The influential central midfielder has been in sensational form since returning from a three- match suspension following a straight red card in the 1-0 defeat to Hartlepool United before Christmas.
But Comley has been busy making up for lost time, running the show in the goalless draw at Aldershot Town last Tuesday before setting up the winning goal for Remy Clerima in Saturday’s crucial 1-0 win against Gateshead – a side who’d previously held the Indian sign over the Magpies in the National League.
All hoodoos must come to an end at some point though, and Maidenhead deservedly broke the cycle of defeats with a resolute display at the International Stadium against a Heed side that included former Newcastle United defender Mike Williamson.
“You go into every game looking to play your best,” said Comley. “I was disappointed to miss those games at a difficult time for the club and I felt that the suspension was a bit harsh.
“You can say it was justified but similar tackles to that go unpunished every week.
“But it means that I’ve come back with hunger in my belly. I obviously want us to do well and we’ve now kept two clean sheets and are playing well.”
Comley said the Magpies’ return to form has been built on their water-tight defence and they once again showed their togetherness to ‘defend as a team and attack as a team’.
“You can see that improvements are being made,” he said.
“We’re working really hard and that was reflected in the score on Saturday.
“I’m not one to look at the table much but I know that we’ve been down there. But now we need to pick up points and wins when we can and put a run together.
“We’ve been very good defensively. I’m not saying we set out to be defensive but we’ve defended as a unit and we’ve attacked as a unit. And seven points from 12 over the Christmas period isn’t too bad.”
His jinking run and cross fell nicely for Clerima to strike United in front on the half-hour on Saturday, and although Gateshead pressed for an equaliser the players never once lost their composure.
“The goal was a very good finish to be fair to him (Clerima),” added Comley.
“I initially cut inside to take the shot, but it wasn’t on so I went back to the byline and pulled the ball back. It took a flick off one of the defenders and fell for Remy.
“They saw plenty of the ball in the second half but I never thought we were under too much pressure. We didn’t create much in the second half but were able to get possession and take pressure off ourselves. The lead gave us something to hang onto.”
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The statue, which was put up on a plinth in the High Street in November 2018 to commemorate 100 years since the First World War, was damaged beyond repair and has not been replaced.