01:00PM, Friday 13 November 2020
Maidenhead United head into Saturday’s game at Chesterfield sitting fifth in the National League having beaten some of the best sides in the division on paper. However, assistant manager Ryan Peters, who’ll step into Alan Devonshire’s shoes for Saturday’s trip while the manager recuperates from hip surgery, says it’s far too early to be looking at the table and drawing any significant conclusions from it.
In the eyes of most of their rivals, Maidenhead remain ‘the little old club’ that everyone expects to be battling against relegation come April. Peters admits that perception is going to take a while to shift, but, perhaps significantly, he said none of the players - old or new - signed up for the current campaign expecting to become mired in a relegation battle.
Manager Alan Devonshire has also said he expects his current crop to be one of the strongest sides he’s had since they were promoted to the National League back in 2017. It’s just taken them a while to get to grip with his ‘philosophy’ and the intricacies of each other’s games.
“I don’t think that anyone is looking at the table right now,” said Peters. “We haven’t played anywhere near enough games for the table to mean anything right now. It would only take a few games for Chesterfield to be right up there again or for us to be more down there. I would like to think that we’ll be much better equipped because of last season’s experiences. The starts we’ve had have been similar, but I’d like to think we’re capable of continuing our form this season.
“Our start wasn’t great; in fact, it was horrendous. But the gaffer knew. He knew we just needed a few games for the boys coming in to understand his philosophy. He knew that it would come. Once we got the first win under our belts the morale was much better and performances started to take care of themselves.
“I think the difference between this year and last year is that we’ve got an abundance of quality around the squad. We’ve brought in players with the right mentality, a professional mentality and I think when standards are dipping just below what is required, they are the type of people who’ll rally the troops and get them back up to where they need to be.”
Peters added: “But I don’t think the perception of us is going to change. We’re always going to be known as little old Maidenhead. If you look at the teams that are always favourites to go down, our name is always plastered all over it. But none of the boys believe they’re playing for a team that’s going to be relegated.
“None of the boys in the team think they’re not going to be good enough, so it’s only outside of this team that people think we’re not able, or not quite at it in terms of this league. In the dressing room we know we’re more than capable of achieving what we set our sights on achieving, but the gaffer also keeps us grounded. We know we need to first get to the point margin where we think we can exist in this league for another season.”
Peters believes the Magpies have enough in their armoury to score against most sides in the division and, with the defence looking more resilient of late, it means they’re confident of competing for results every time they set foot over the white line.
Like Maidenhead, Saturday’s opponents Chesterfield limped out of the blocks this season, losing four of their opening five matches. However, their most recent league outing saw them win away at Yeovil Town and, only a discrepancy of paperwork, which saw them field an ineligible player, denied them a place in the first round of the FA Cup after beating Stockport County on penalties. The match was replayed, and they lost it 4-0.
“The mentality now is that we will score goals,” he said. “In previous years we might have been wondering where the next goal was going to come from. But this season we know we’ll score. We’ve got Sammy Barratt who’s scoring goals for fun now, and other boys who will chip in and score their share of goals and provide goals at the same time.
“We will play 90 minutes knowing that at any moment we could score a goal. So, we’ve got to stay compact as we can, not let too many in, and that will always give us a chance of scoring an equaliser or the winner.
“If you look at the squad now there are two players for every position.
“So, they’re always pushing each other to be better which is only going to help the team.
“If you look at the front four or five, any one of them could play at any time. So, if they’re going to be on the pitch they’ve got to be performing or scoring to justify their selection.
“We’ve got Chesterfield on Saturday, then Aldershot away and Bromley at home the following Saturday.
“They’re tough games, but they’re all tough in this league to be fair.
“It’s going to be a long trip up to Chesterfield on Saturday, fingers crossed we get the result we would like, and then we’ll then have to assess the boys on the Monday ahead of the game at Aldershot on Tuesday.”
W Maidenhead United are running several online events throughout lockdown to keep engaged with their fans and the community.
Throughout the month they’ll be holding daily events and challenges for people to sign up to.
On Monday they challenged people to set up their own Magpies 150 Challenge fundraising page and help the club raise much needed funds for local charities who’ve been badly impacted by coronavirus restrictions.
There was a lunchtime pilates class via Zoom on Tuesday. The first session was free but subsequent sessions will see participants donate £1 to the challenge. Last night (Wednesday) the club held a special fans forum over Zoom with assistant manager Ryan Peters and captain Alan Massey. A discretionary donation from fans will go towards the challenge. Tonight (Thursday), the club will hold a quiz on its Instagram page, starting from 8pm, and Magpies forward Josh Coley will be taking part in a live Q&A session with supporters on Instagram on Friday evening, starting from 7.30pm.
Supporters are also reminded they can livestream Saturday’s National League match against Chesterfield while on Sunday, to end a busy first week, there will be self-care information with Wellbeing Boutique.
For more information and specific links to the relevant events visit the club’s website.
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