04:40PM, Thursday 08 August 2019
Josh Smile. Photo: Darren Woolley
It shows how far Maidenhead United have come that Alan Devonshire was a little disappointed to only pick up a point against Chesterfield – touted by many to win the National League – on Tuesday night.
In a typically combative display, played in monsoon conditions at times, the Magpies more than held their own and showed that they can mix it with one of the sides tipped for promotion.
They remain unbeaten, after beating Stockport County 1-0 in Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off and drawing 1-1 with the Spireites on Tuesday evening, and have a resilience about them that suggests they’ll be a difficult nut for most sides to crack this term.
Defensively they were excellent against Chesterfield, with new signing Joseph Ellul making a couple of crucial
interceptions to take the wind from the visitors’ sails – just as they looked to be building up a head of steam.
Goalkeeper Taye Ashby-Hammond once again distinguished himself with a couple of fine stops while, further forward, the Magpies showed promising signs of gelling as an attacking unit.
On the hour mark, and just after the heavens opened, they took the lead with a quite exquisite goal.
Jake Cassidy played the ball in for Danny Whitehall, whoseclever stepover gave Remy Clerima the chance to make it 1-0 with a tidy finish.
It looked like that might be enough to earn them a second straight win, but the tiniest of lapses from a corner presented Josef Yarney with the chance to thump Chesterfield level with a low, hard finish with 15 minutes to play.
“We were a lot better in the second half,” said Devonshire.
“We had a few chances where the ball dropped for us.
“They could have been 1-0 up with the chances they had in the first half. It was the same as Saturday. We just didn’t seem to function as well in the first half but second half we grew into the game and I thought we were the better side.
“We fell asleep a bit for their goal, but I’m not going to knock them for that. We’re disappointed but, listen, we’ll take a point against a side that’s touted to win the league. Four points from six ain’t bad.”
Devonshire’s assistant Ryan Peters added that they’re expecting the Magpies to be more resilient this season.
“We weren’t too worried about us defensively,” said Peters. “We don’t expect to concede as many goals this season compared to last. We’re trying to build on what we did in the back end of last season.
“But it’s just about whether we can create enough chances to score enough goals. It was a great bit of play for our goal, Danny being incredibly intelligent to let the ball run and Remy’s come in and hit it.
“We thought we were going to be able to see the game out and, apart from the one chance they had, I didn’t think they were going to score.”
Jake Cassidy played a big part in Saturday’s opening day win at Stockport County, heading home the late winner from Josh Smile’s fine cross.
Hartlepool United, another ex-league club, are the visitors to York Road on Saturday.
They’ve begun their campaign with defeats to Halifax Town and Sutton United and the Magpies will be looking to rub salt in those wounds at the weekend.
“Hartlepool will be another tough game but we’re looking forward to it,” added Peters.
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