09:30AM, Thursday 30 January 2020
Magpies boss Alan Devonshire was delighted with how his players dealt with the pressure on them in Saturday’s win over Eastleigh. United came into the game just a couple of points above the drop zone and having been knocked out of the FA Trophy just days before by Halesowen Town, a side plying their trade three divisions below the Magpies.
Confidence had taken a knock from that, and their 5-2 defeat at Halifax Town the previous weekend. However, knowing they’d move above Eastleigh with victory, the Magpies held their nerve magnificently and got the job done thanks to two first half strikes from Danny Whitehall.
Under tremendous pressure the players had delivered the goods for themselves and their manager. However, they remain only four points above the relegation places so will have to continue ‘delivering’ in the coming weeks of the season if they’re to keep their heads above water.
Hopefully this is the match the management team will look back on come the end of the season as the one which sparked the club’s run to safety.
“I’m delighted, there was a lot of pressure on us today (Saturday) and they delivered the goods,” said Devonshire.
“I thought we played really well in the first half and then we showed a lot of resilience in the second half. We won 2-0 and it’s a credit to them (the Maidenhead players).
“After a disappointing game in the week (which saw Maidenhead lose 3-1 to Halesowen and bow out of the FA Trophy), we’ve put it on the line today and got a deserved win.”
Home form will be key to the Magpies survival hopes, and, fortunately for them it seems to be improving just in time.
For the first half of the season the Magpies have had one of the worst home records and, without an improvement on home soil, it’s difficult to see how they would get out of trouble.
Saturday’s win was their second in five league matches, but the competitive nature of the division means it’s a struggle for any side down the bottom to get themselves out of the relegation picture. No side has been able to pull themselves clear and clubs such as Eastleigh and Aldershot are now being dragged back into contention.
On Saturday they’ll visit Solihull Moors, who parted company with manager Tim Flowers on Tuesday with the club ninth in the National League. United narrowly beat them 1-0 at York Road earlier in the season.
Devonshire added: “Yeah listen, I’d say the last three home league games now, we’ve won 2-0, we drew 0-0 (with Notts County) and we beat Wrexham, that’s our last three league games at home.
“So hopefully we’ve turned that round and we need a lot more of that between now and the end of the season.”
On Whitehall, the Magpies leading scorer with 18 goals in all competitions this season, Devonshire added: “I thought he was excellent but there were a lot of them that were excellent out there.
“He’ll stand out because he scored the two goals but at the end of the day, it was a good team performance and I’m really pleased with that.”
The pressure is on for Whitehall to continue leading the line, with Jake Cassidy moving to Stevenage and Bernard Mensah dropping down a division to Gloucester City.
However, he and the club have been aided by the return of Josh Kelly from suspension. The sprightly forward was brought down for Maidenhead’s penalty and sent in a wonderful low cross to hand Whitehall a tap-in for his second. It’s a striking partnership which may yet secure Maidenhead’s National League place.
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