10:35PM, Tuesday 18 January 2022
Josh Kelly after scoring tonight’s winner against Chesterfield. Photo: Darren Woolley.
Maidenhead United 3, Chesterfield 2
Maidenhead United produced one of the shocks of the season in the National League so far as they defeated promotion chasing Chesterfield 3-2 at York Road this evening.
Led by the irrepressible Josh Kelly, who scored two of the home side’s three goals, including their winner 10 minutes from time, Maidenhead set about their opponents with a conviction that’s been missing from many of their games this season.
Confidence restored after their victory over Bromley and 1-1 draw at Aldershot Town, Maidenhead looked every bit the equal of their visitors, who – having played the European Champions, Chelsea, in the FA Cup a couple of weeks ago, seemed disinterested in the first half and not up for the fight.
Kelly curled the Magpies in front in the sixth minute, collecting the ball just outside the area and aiming a shot into the far corner. Scott Loach got gloves to the ball, but it had too much power and nestled satisfyingly in the corner of the net.
The night might have gone differently for Chesterfield had Jim Kellerman taken a presentable chance in the 14th minute having latched onto a woefully under hit back pass, but Magpies keeper Dan Gyollai spread himself well and saved with his legs.
Sensing their visitors weren’t quite on it, Maidenhead pressed forward again and, when Kelly’s ankles were clipped on the edge of the area, Dan Sparkes thumped home a low a stunning low free kick to give the hosts a bit more of a buffer.
Sparkes later went off after suffering a knock and the Magpies lost a little of their attacking impetus towards the end of the first half, but they continued to hassle and harry their visitors who created little of note. Liam Mandeville skimmed Gyollai’s right hand post with a shot, but the Hungarian stopper looked to have it covered, and it looked like the Magpies would deservedly take a two-goal lead into the interval.
Only a fabulous free-kick in first half stoppage time from Jeff King prevented them from doing so. If Sparkes’ free kick was good, this was even better and it gave the Spireites a huge boost heading into the second half.
Akwasi Asante made an immediate impression after coming off the bench at half-time, forcing a save from Gyollai in the 46th minute, but the visitors levelled things up 10 minutes later when Kabonga Tshimanga turned sharply in the box and poked a shot past Gyollai and in off the post.
At that point it seemed a matter of when, not if, Chesterfield would score again and they had their chances. Will De Havilland pulled off a brilliant block to prevent them from netting a third on the hour mark and Tshimanga came close to a second three minutes later, blasting over after creating space on the edge of the area.
Instead, it was Kelly who took the plaudits with the winner in the 79th minute. Having already dragged Maidenhead back into the contest with his direct running and pressing, he found himself in the right place at the right time to nod home Alan Massey’s flick on from a corner.
That Chesterfield failed to create another good opportunity is testament to how well Maidenhead played as a team, restricting their increasingly desperate visitors to shots from distance and crosses into the box.
The result is hugely significant at both ends of the table. It lifts the Magpies seven points clear of the bottom three ahead of Saturday’s home game with Halifax at York Road. But it’s also a result that will be celebrated as much in Halifax, Stockport and Boreham Wood as it will in Maidenhead with the Spireites missing the chance to move back on top of the National League table.
Maidenhead and Slough travellers have long been waiting for the arrival of Crossrail to whisk them quickly into central London.