06:46PM, Saturday 24 October 2020
Manny Parry (pictured earlier this season) forced home United's opening goal.
Maidenhead United 2, Cray Valley PM 3
Substitute Francis Babalola turned home Ade Yusuff’s cross in second half injury-time to cap an incredible comeback as Cray Valley PM came from two goals down to defeat Maidenhead United in the FA Cup.
Alan Devonshire’s men looked to be cantering into the first round of the competition after going 2-0 up inside 30 minutes.
Manny Parry’s disputed finish from close range in the 20th minute just about crossed the goalline while Dan Sparkes slick side-footed finish from a Ryheem Sheckleford cross put the Magpies further ahead in the 29th minute.
Yusuff seized on a mix up between Magpies’ keeper Taye Ashby-Hammond and Alan Massey to score into an empty net a minute later and Connor Dymond’s excellent header from a corner in the 45th minute levelled things up at the break.
Both sides created chances in an even second period, but Maidenhead fluffed the biggest of theirs when Sam Barratt’s 83rd minute spot kick was saved by stand-in keeper Joe Docherty after Kieron McCann was adjudged to have handled in the box.
Yusuff missed a gilt-edged chance a few minutes later when he lashed the ball into the side-netting after turning well in the box. But, with penalties looming, it was the Isthmian League South East side who had the final laugh when Yusuff escaped down the right-hand side and sent in a cross that Babalola diverted home.
He and his teammates scampered down the left touchline to celebrate with club officials in the main stand and the final whistle sounded just a few moments later to signal one of the biggest cup shocks of the day.
Yesssssss!!! pic.twitter.com/eo3wiZoXJD— Cray Valley PM FC (@CrayValleyPM) October 24, 2020
United started well enough, matching their visitors’ intensity in the early stages, while they looked threatening from Sparkes’ balls in from the left. Yusuff had the ball in the net in the 12th minute but his effort, after Ashby-Hammond had made an instinctive save, was ruled offside.
A Barratt free kick from distance was beaten out by Docherty in the 17th minute and Shaun Donnellan scooped the rebound over the crossbar.
Maidenhead’s first goal followed three minutes later. Ryan Upward’s header from a Sparkes’ corner was blocked on the goalline and Parry just about forced the loose ball over the line. Cray furiously disputed the referee’s decision to award the goal and Dymond was yellow carded for his protestations.
The home side’s second goal in the 29th minute followed a slick move down the right. United’s right back Ryheem Sheckleford’s low cross was stepped over by Danilo Orsi Dadomo and Sparkes applied a classy first-time finish low past Docherty.
If the home side thought that was job done, they were very much mistaken. Just a minute later Yusuff hassled Ashby-Hammond and Massey into a mistake and picked up the loose ball to tap into an empty net. The goal galvanised the visitors, lifting the level of each of their players to match their National League counterparts. Ashby-Hammond kept out Adeyemo’s back-post header in the 42nd minute but they were deservedly back on terms a minute before the interval when Dymond shrugged off his marker to steer a fine header into the top corner. Ashby-Hammond got a touch to it but couldn’t keep it out.
For much of the second half Maidenhead looked like a side who thought they’d done enough to book their place in the next round but now found themselves in a real battle. Cray battled for every ball and United struggled to match their effort and intensity all over the pitch.
Barratt arrowed in a shot from distance that Docherty pushed wide at full stretch while second half substitute Josh Kelly showed some skill to beat a couple of players before being denied by a wonderful sliding challenge. At the other end Denzel Gayle whipped the ball just wide of the post after turning well on the edge of the area, while Ade Adeyemo was denied by a splendid save from Ashby-Hammond.
It looked like the Magpies would be handed the chance to limp into the next round when McCann was penalised for handling in the area, but Docherty did brilliantly to keep out Barratt’s 83rd minute spot-kick. The visitors were buoyed by the reprieve and took the game to their hosts in the final minutes. Yusuff was twice denied before Babalola deservedly booked their place in the first round of the FA Cup. They’ll await this week’s draw with interest while Maidenhead turn their attention to two important home games against Dagenham & Redbridge on Tuesday and Solihull Moors on Saturday.
They need to arrest their appalling recent home form. The Magpies haven’t won in eight fixtures at York Road since beating Eastleigh in January.
Magpies boss Alan Devonshire said: “You’ve got to give them credit. They were the better side in the end, and they deserved it. You can’t make the mistakes we’ve made. Taye’s made a mistake for the first one and then we’ve not marked the header.
“We were 2-0 up and cruising 15 minutes before half-time. We just had to close the game out. We’re naïve, and we didn’t play well in the second half. We had the chance to win it with the penalty, but it is what it is. We’ve got to think about Tuesday now. It’s gone, it’s finished, good luck to them, they deserved it I think, and we move on to our next game.”
Cray boss Kevin Watson said: “I personally think we deserved it. It’s difficult when you’re a manager and you’ve got an allegiance to your own side. Genuinely, I thought we created opportunities and we were resilient defensively. They went two goals in front, but I always felt we were in it. Their first goal was a harsh one and they’ve been awarded a penalty. We had one called offside which we scored. The game had everything. I’m delighted for the boys; they’re a good group of lads and they deserve this sort of moment in football and this could be one.
“From the players’ perspective I think that first goal helped. But, when you play a team a few levels higher, there’s a naïve assumption about the level and abilities of the players, and we were trying to tell the boys that they’re (Maidenhead) human at the end of the day. We knew their strengths and we knew possible weaknesses we could exploit and we’ve got an intelligent bunch of lads and we got those messages across to them.”
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