02:30PM, Thursday 14 November 2019
Five days on from Maidenhead United’s exit from the FA Cup at the hands of League 1 Rotherham United, the events of the day are still raw for Magpies' boss Alan Devonshire.
The burning sense of injustice he felt in the immediate aftermath of the side’s 3-1 defeat at York Road is still with him as he looks ahead to United’s trip to Boreham Wood at the weekend.
The bread and butter of the National League might be back on the agenda but the impact of Saturday’s FA Cup tie, and in particular the controversial dismissal of captain Alan Massey could impinge on the team for several weeks to come.
This week they’ll be without their influential leader, as he sits out the first of his three-game suspension – a penalty the Magpies considered appealing. While James Comley’s international call-up for Montserrat means the squad is once again down to the bare bones for the visit to Meadow Park.
“It just compounds everything,” Devonshire said of his skipper’s sending off.
“Not only did we lose him on Saturday but we lose him for the next three matches as well.
“They’re a good side Boreham. They’re just above us in the league and they’ve got two really good strikers and a compact defence.”
Maidenhead looked pretty compact themselves in the first half against Rotherham.
Having taken a surprise lead through Jake Cassidy’s well-taken finish they were limiting the League 1 Millers to scraps in the second half before Massey saw red after sliding into Ben Wiles, the two of them careering into the advertising hoardings with an almighty crash.
Without a moment’s pause referee Ollie Yates pulled the red from his top pocket.
Without their captain United's game plan simply unravelled and Rotherham were able to capitalise, settling the tie with goals from Michael Ihiekwe, Freddie Ladapo and Matt Crooks.
In years to come Magpies fans will look back fondly on the day Rotherham were pushed to the limit and the BBC's Football Focus shone a spotlight on the club. But, for now, the day is a source of frustration and disappointment for Devonshire.
“We’ve felt a little disappointed all week,” he said. “If you look at the refereeing decision, it’s one that went for them. I think we’d have got a result if it had remained 11 against 11.
“To be fair until Al (Alan Massey) was sent off they’d seen a lot of the ball but they hadn’t created anything. We were doing OK. We were comfortable. They had a lot of the ball but we’d decided to let them have the ball. That was the game plan and they weren’t getting in behind us. In the first 10 minutes of the second half they had one cross, which Chris Dunn took comfortably.
“So we’re just really disappointed because we felt it was an opportunity for the boys and the club and it’s been taken out of their hands.”
Devonshire has picked out Kabongo Tshimanga and Tyrone Marsh as Boreham Wood’s danger men on Saturday, but he admits their hosts have good players all over the pitch.
“Those two will be a real handful,” he said. “But they’re very strong in areas of the back and in midfield.
“Massey is now out for the next three games and James Comley will miss Saturday because of international duty. So we’re down to the bare bones again. It is what it is but it’s not great to have those two out.”
Their recent wobble at Aldershot Town aside the Magpies have been in decent form of late and remain on track for the 50-point haul Devonshire is targeting for survival.
“We’ve just got to get to 50 points,” he said. “We’re halfway there with 23 games left. It’s going to be tough because everyone is capable of beating everyone else.
“I don’t think Wrexham or Fylde will stay down near the bottom either so we’ll need to get points on the board.”
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