Maidenhead United bank another three points against FC Halifax Town

Photo: Darren Woolley

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Maidenhead United 1, FC Halifax Town 0

Josh Kelly’s (above) first-half strike condemned the National League leaders to a 1-0 loss on Saturday afternoon, in a game that was largely dominated by Maidenhead United at York Road.

Moments before the half-hour mark, the Magpies’ forward latched onto Emile Acquah’s defence-splitting pass at the near post, from which his effort was too powerful for Tom Scott to save.

Having also scored twice earlier in the week against, then table-toppers, Chesterfield FC, Kelly is well on track to achieve double figures this campaign, as boss Alan Devonshire keenly pointed out.

“Kells is a good talent, we know that,” he said at full-time. “Last season was one he had to rub off because he was constantly injured and picking up niggles. This year is all about him being consistent.

“He should set himself 20 goals – that should be his target. The boy has got the talent, it’s there for everyone to see, but he needs to stay fit and keep going.”

Halifax Town had initially shown they were up for the battle when Dan Gyollai got down to save Matty Warburton’s effort at the far post, after the forward was slipped through in the sixth minute.

Kelly had the Magpies’ first sight of goal 10 minutes later but elected to screw the ball across the six yard box instead of taking the shot, leading to Charlee Adams blasting over the woodwork.

Adams then tried his luck with a free kick which was curled into Remy Clerima, but the defender’s following header was sent over the crossbar.

Eventually, the Shaymen got themselves back on the ball in the 25th minute, but just a moment later, it was down the other end and in the back of the net courtesy of Acquah and Kelly.

Jay Benn tried his luck against all 6’4” of Gyollai with a lob in the first half’s final minutes, before Clerima sent his header inches wide of the post from George Wells’ cross.

Much to the delight of the raucous and rowdy Bell Street End, the Magpies sustained their intensity after the interval with Clerima, again, narrowly unable to double his side’s advantage.

Having skipped past Sam Beckwith, Jamie Allen teed up Warburton neatly outside of the area in the 52nd minute but the first-time effort was sent out of the ground.

The home support witnessed a rare sight three minutes later when captain Alan Massey charged a healthy 25 yards up the pitch with the ball before getting dispossessed.

Kelly had another opportunity to score before the hour when Ryan Upward effortlessly volleyed the ball back into the area, following an Adams free-kick, and he nodded a header just wide.

Wells was able to sting the palms of Scott with a low drive shortly after, with the Shaymen’s stopper spilling the ball before ultimately getting on top of it under the pressure of an advancing Kelly.

Bettering his skipper’s efforts, the forward picked up the ball from the halfway line in the 73rd minute and attacked the visitors’ defensive line with pace and trickery.

Unable to deal with the man, Scott had to intervene at the expense of the hosts’ first corner.

Chances came and went for Halifax in the game’s last 10 minutes, but they weren’t of any considerable danger to Massey and colleague, Will De Havilland, who were superb this afternoon.

As the clock wound down, so did the Magpies, and Devonshire turned to his bench to bring on Reece Smith and Josh Smile who gave their side the necessary surge of pace to get over the finish line.

The victory lifts the Magpies nine points clear of the relegation zone and extends their unbeaten run to four matches.

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