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Maidenhead United Women leave Denham United Women sweating in the heat during pre-season win

Maidenhead United Women left their rivals sweating in the heat as they eased to a 2-0 win over Denham United on Sunday.

In sweltering conditions, the Magpies proved too strong for their London & South East Regional Women’s League rivals, with new acquisition Natalie Barnes thumping home the goal of the game from well outside the area.

As the mercury level rose beyond the 90F mark Maidenhead showed the fruits of their recent strength and conditioning work, while manager Nevin Saroya was able to shuffle his pack, bringing in Kat Mace at centre half for the absent Gemma Bloor. Alongside Kajal Malhotra, the pair hardly placed a foot wrong to earn a deserved clean sheet.

Shylla Carty-Duhaney was rewarded with a start at centre forward while goalkeepers Alice East and Nina Merrrit each played 45 minutes.

Maidenhead were on it from the first whistle and threatened long before winger Simone O’Brien capitalised on some defensive hesitancy to pinch the ball off the toes of a defender and thump the ball into the roof of the net. Alex Dover’s firm effort from distance was gathered in by the Denham keeper before the first of two welcome water breaks in the first half.

Maidenhead doubled their advantage just after the half-time interval with a spectacular strike. Megan Halfacree’s throw was touched on by Steph Nelson and Barnes, took a couple of touches before curling the ball over the Denham keeper and into the top corner.

There were further chances to add to the lead through Barnes and the impressive Jade Chhokar, while an alert piece of goalkeeping kept out Maidenhead’s tenacious teenager Amy Johnston. Another recent signing, Mia Reid slotted seamlessly in at left-back when Halfacree was withdrawn as a precaution after a heavy fall on the dry, hard surface.

Saroya commented: “I am really proud of the attitude and fitness levels of the team. They have been working under (Strength and Conditioning Coach) Joel Mellmann’s leadership on a completely new plan and you could see the team benefit from it today.

“It was extremely hot against a talented Denham team but I thought we stuck to our team instructions and only our final ball or finish stopped us getting one or two more.”

MUWFC: East, Barrett, Halfacree, Saunders, Malhotra, Mace, Dover, Carvill, O’Brien, Chhokar, Carty-Duhaney. Substitutes (all used): Merritt, Nelson, Barnes, Reid, Johnston.

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