03:30PM, Thursday 20 January 2022
Maidenhead United once again showed why they’re so often the scourge of promotion hopefuls as they shocked Chesterfield with a 3-2 victory on Tuesday night.
The result will have sent shockwaves around the National League and is hugely significant at both the top and bottom of the table.
The Magpies win will have been celebrated as heartily by fans of Halifax, Boreham Wood and Stockport County as it was in Maidenhead, but perhaps – considering United’s recent results against the Spireites - we shouldn’t have been so surprised.
Chesterfield may have been looking to retake top spot from Halifax on Tuesday but their record against Alan Devonshire’s Magpies in the National League is abysmal. They’ve now lost five of their six matches against them, drawing the other, with that faltering form continuing this week, much to the delight of Magpies fans who cheerily chorused: ‘Are you Marlow in disguise?'
The Magpies didn’t have things all their own way, but were much the better side in the first half and deservedly led through goals from Josh Kelly and Dan Sparkes. The Spireites looked like they’d played their ‘get out of jail free card’ when Jeff King thumped home a free kick on the stroke of half-time, and the tide was well and truly turning when Kabonga Tshimanga poked home to make it 2-2 10 minutes after the restart.
But Maidenhead kept plugging away and managed to wrestle back momentum when Kelly nodded home from Alan Massey’s flick with 10 minutes to play.
Reflecting on a morale-boosting night for the Magpies, one which lifts the side seven points clear of the relegation zone, Devonshire said: “We haven’t played for 10 days, we’ve had injuries again, but I can’t ask for no more from them,” he said.
“They gave me absolutely everything. I love playing games under the lights. There was a great atmosphere. “I’m a bit lost for words; I’m just delighted for them.
“We’ve got the three points now and we’ll go for it against Halifax on Saturday. This team (Chesterfield) could have gone top if they’d won, and we’ve stopped them, so why can’t we also stop Halifax as well?”
The Magpies host leaders Halifax on Saturday before travelling to third placed Stockport County on Tuesday and eighth placed Wrexham the following Saturday. But Devonshire’s men can take heart from the fact that four of their six victories this season have come against sides in the top eight, and who would bet against them taking another prized scalp from that tricky looking run of matches.
They’ll also be looking to do the double over Halifax, having beaten them on the opening day of the season, while the sides also met in a crazy FA Cup fixture in early November which Halifax won 7-4.
“I always said that when we got the players back, we’d be ok,” added Devonshire. “It’s taken a long time to get them back, and we’ve still got a few out, but they’ve done well. It’s a squad game and we’ll have to rotate it a bit with Stockport and Wrexham to come after Halifax. We made a change in the second half, and it was pleasing that we showed a lot of character and got the winning goal.”
Devonshire accepted Kelly’s performance on Tuesday would steal the headlines but added that everyone in black and white deserved credit for the victory.
He said: “Josh will take all the praise for his workrate and that. He’s getting close to what he was a few years ago.
“He’s had a lot of injuries and I just want the kid to have a good season now. He can push on, no doubt about it but he’s got to keep himself fit and play loads of games and score loads of goals and then he can go from there.
“But everyone deserves credit. It’s not just one to 11 it’s the subs as well, everyone was ready for this game. It was a big game for us.”
“I’m not really looking at the league table. It’s how we play and how we work that I’m more bothered about.
“At 2-2 it looked like they would go on and get the winner, but then we managed to turn it around and got the winner ourselves, so I’m just really pleased.”
Maidenhead and Slough travellers have long been waiting for the arrival of Crossrail to whisk them quickly into central London.