11:54AM, Thursday 12 November 2020
Maidenhead United played a practice match against Brentford’s B side on Saturday, providing the perfect opportunity for players who haven’t had many minutes this season to shake some rustiness from their legs.
The Magpies drew the game 1-1, with Brentford scoring an injury-time equaliser to cancel out Danilo Orsi-Dadomo’s strike for the hosts.
But, with manager Alan Devonshire set to miss this weekend’s trip to Chesterfield after undergoing hip surgery, it also enabled assistant manager Ryan Peters and the coaching team to run through how things would work without ‘the gaffer’ in the dugout.
Peters hopes Devonshire will be fit and mobile enough to watch Saturday’s game from home, and there’s also a number for him to dial through to the bench should he feel the need to make changes or offer some advice.
The Magpies travel to Chesterfield searching for their fifth straight win in the National League and they face a club who’ve lost four of their six league games to date.
“We obviously played a game on Saturday because we didn’t want to have any rustiness going into the game this week,” said Peters. “It was promising from that perspective and it gave boys who haven’t played many 90-minute games, or are returning from injury, to play against a good Brentford B team.
“We’ve now got matches on Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday so there are going to be a number of changes in and around those three games and we’ve got to make sure the boys who’ve been in and around it, but haven’t necessarily been getting minutes under their belts, can be relied upon if they’re called up.
“We’ve been having chats about how it might work. We had a run through of the game on Saturday with the gaffer sat in the stands and me and Aaron in the dugout. We played things out how we saw fit, but the gaffer was on the phone and I believe he will be on Saturday. His operation is on Friday, so fingers crossed he’ll be up and about on the Saturday and able to dial in if he needs to.
“But, listen, nothing will change at all. The boys know what the gaffer demands from them and fingers crossed we’ll be able to say at the end of the game on Saturday that we’ve kept the good run going. Not too much is going to change at all.
“The boys know exactly what will be asked of them and, just because the gaffer isn’t there, it doesn’t mean we’re going to be doing wholesale changes or setting the team up differently.
“We’re going to be keeping things as simple as possible, the way the gaffer would have had it, and even the team talk is going to be close to what he would have said. Hopefully, it will lead to a good performance on the pitch.”
The club is hoping Devonshire will be back on the touchline for Tuesday’s trip to Aldershot Town, but Peters admitted it’s a flexible situation and, while he’s not likely to be out of action long, there’s no precise timescale for his return.
“It will really depend,” added Peters. “When he had his last one (hip operation) done there were a few complications and he was bed bound for a few more days than he would have liked. Fingers crossed there won’t be any complications with this one. Potentially, he may just miss Saturday’s game, but at this stage we haven’t put a timescale on the number of games he may or may not miss. Right now, it’s just Saturday, but we’ll speak with him, Lee (Devonshire, chief scout) and Aaron (O’Brien, first team coach) and we’ll put together a team that’s capable of going out and getting a result. We still have a few players with muscular injuries, which might be down to the number of games we’ve played in a short space of time. We may have three or four boys out, but we won’t know that until Thursday night. If they’re not ready for Saturday, we hope they’ll be ready for Tuesday.
Midfielder James Comley added that his manager’s presence would be missed, both in terms of the instructions barked out to players from the touchline and the half-time one-to-ones, where titbits of useful information are passed on. But he backed the coaching staff to give the side good advice and said the players can’t use Devonshire’s absence as an excuse should the result not go their way.
“I’m not really someone who allows for excuses,” said Comley. “Whether the gaffer is in the dugout or not, everyone should know how to set up before the game. You can’t have an excuse that your manager isn’t there. He’ll be barking out orders and at half-time may give you little bits of information, but Ryan and Aaron are just as confident doing that.”
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