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Upward leaves it late to rescue Maidenhead United's FA Cup hopes against Wealdstone

FOOTBALL 131872-9

Maidenhead United vs Harrogate TownNational League.York Road, Maidenhead.

Maidenhead United 1, Wealdstone 1 (FA Cup fourth qualifying round)

Ryan Upward left it late to rescue Maidenhead United's FA Cup hopes at York Road this afternoon, deflecting home a rebound from close range to take this fourth qualifying round tie to a replay on Tuesday.

For much of the game Dean Brennan's high-flying Wealdstone looked to have one foot in the next round with Ross Lafayette converting one of several chances they created just after half-time.

The Stones rolled into this clash with all the confidence of a team that are five points clear of their nearest rivals in National League South, having won 11 of their 13 fixtures. While Maidenhead United look to be a side still trying to fathom how to win matches on home soil.

Lafayette's muscular display kept the Magpies' back four occupied for most of the first half and he had the game's first two chances, firing wide on the volley before failing to make the most of Billy Clifford's clever through-ball and tamely finding the gloves of United stopper Chris Dunn.

United were far from their best but still carved out the odd dangerous moment, with Jake Cassidy curling narrowly wide of the upright after 10 minutes and Josh Kelly testing Aston Oxborough with a low, left-footed, effort after skillfully cutting in from the right touchline. Joe Ellul's powerful header was also palmed away by the Stones' keeper as the Magpies threatened in fits and spurts.

Brennan felt his side shaded the opening period but they failed to take the halves' best chances. In the 25th minute Danny Green's corner was headed against the post by Jerome Okimo while Sanchez Watt blazed over the bar when well placed in the 38th minute after great work to tee him up by Dennon Lewis.

The game's first goal arrived five minutes after the interval, and Lafayette deserves huge credit for the way in which he made the most of a poor headed clearance, held off his marker and thumped it across Dunn and into the bottom right hand corner.

The visitors might easily have added to their tally when Connor Stevens headed over unmarked from inside the six-yard box after being picked out by Billy Clifford's cross. 

United felt they should have been awarded a penalty in the 75th minute, when Josh Smile looked to be taken out by Oxborough in the box as he chased a throughball. But, inexplicably, referee Samuel Allison felt the offence was committed just outside the area. Had VAR been in use it would surely have handed the Magpies the chance to level things up from the spot.

The Magpies absorbed the blow and, with four minutes left on the clock, Upward was in the right place at the right time to nudge home the equaliser after Kelly's flicked effort had been palmed out by Oxborough. 

Upward has a habit of popping up with crucial goals for United in the FA Cup. He got the late winner at this stage two seasons ago against Havant & Waterlooville, while last season he again bundled home from close range to put Chippenham Town out of the competition.

The sides will do it all again at Grosvenor Vale on Tuesday night, but by then they'll know what prize awaits them in the first round.

After the game, Wealdstone boss Brennan said: "I thought that our performance today was strong but we're a little disappointed to concede at the end in the manner we did. In the first half I thought they had two or three chances while we had three or four and we could have been a little more clinical with one or two of those chances.

"There was nothing wrong with the performance, but it's not about performances in the FA Cup. It's about getting through to the next round and we've got to make sure that we're on top of our game in Tuesday's replay."

Magpies boss Alan Devonshire added: "I was pleased with the way we played first half. I thought we were the better side in the first half, we had a few chances. Got a few blocked on the line and all that. Second half I didn't think we were that good. They were better than us. They've scored and then we've put them under a lot of pressure and got the equaliser.

"They're walking away with the Conference South. They're a good side and have got good players but we're still in the hat and we've got to do a job on Tuesday.

"That was a penalty (the foul on Smile). It was in the box. If he's going to punch it it's inside the box. Because he ain't going to try and punch it outside the box because he'll get sent off, but he (the referee) gives something outside the box. So I don't understand that."

Attendance: 891

Formations:Maidenhead United (4-4-2): Dunn 7'; Sheckleford 6', Massey 7', Ellul 7', Grant 6'; Clerima 5', Upward 8', Smile 7', Kelly 7 (Mensah 90' 6); Whitehall 6' (Comley 68' 6'), Cassidy 6'. Subs not used: Steer, Davies, Twumasi.

Wealdstone FC (4-5-1): Oxborough 7'; Mendy 7', Efete 7', Okimo 7', Stevens 7'; Clifford 8', Phillips 7', Watt 7'(Smith 67'), Green 8', Lewis 8'; Lafayette 9'. Subs not used: Ringer, Saunders, Charles, Coker, Sheppard, Arnold.

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