10:00AM, Friday 21 April 2017
The title may be within touching distance for Maidenhead United, but boss Alan Devonshire knows there’s plenty of work left to be done to get over the line.
A point in Saturday’s match against Ebbsfleet United at York Road will seal the Magpies’ first ever National League South title and take them into uncharted territory as a football club.
Never before has a team from Maidenhead played in the fifth level of professional football. It’s an opportunity they surely won’t spurn now, but Devonshire won’t allow his players to rest until they’ve achieved their goal.
The bookies might have written off Ebbsfleet, having made the Magpies 44-1 on to lift the title, but Devonshire is well aware they still pose a threat.
“There’s still work to be done,” he said.
“We’ve still got to get across the line. We’re close to it but we’re still not there yet. We’ve got two chances at it now. It’s in our hands and no one else’s so hopefully we’ll take that opportunity.”
On Good Friday and Easter Monday they bookended the weekend with comfortable wins to put themselves on the brink of history.
Sean Marks was at the forefront of their charge, netting a lovely chip in the 2-0 win over Concord Rangers before scoring twice to help the Magpies on their way to a 3-0 win at Truro City.
It means the Magpies are now so close to the title they can almost touch the trophy and taste the champagne.
But, to their credit, Ebbsfleet haven’t thrown in the towel on this title race just yet.
Eight points adrift of the Magpies, and trailing 1-0 at half-time to Eastbourne Borough on Saturday, they battled back to beat them 4-1 and then managed to hold onto Bradley Bubb’s early goal for a 1-0 win at Margate on Monday.
It gives them a mathematical chance of overhauling Devonshire’s men, but to do that they will need to do something no other team has achieved in the league this season – and only three achieved last year – beat the Magpies on their own patch. Devonshire says his squad are looking forward to the challenge.
“We’re just looking forward to it really,” he said.
“If we don’t get the result we’ve got another chance the following week, but we’d like to get it done on Saturday.
“We won’t play for a draw. We can’t do that. We’ll go out to win the game like we’ve done all season.
“The Maidenhead fans have been brilliant all season and hopefully we can give them something to shout about on Saturday."
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