07:38PM, Saturday 02 November 2019
Maidenhead United vs Solihull Moors.York Road, Maidenhead
Alan Massey (pictured last week against Solihull Moors)
Aldershot Town 2, Maidenhead United 0
Maidenhead United produced one of their poorest displays of the season as Aldershot Town deservedly ended their five-game unbeaten run.
Alan Devonshire's side struggled to get themselves going in difficult, blustery conditions and the Shots took full advantage with second half goals from substitutes Harrison Panayiotou and Alfie Whittingham.
Both goals were handed to the hosts on a silver platter, gift-wrapped by some of the squad's more senior players.
Skipper Alan Massey has to hold his hands up for his part in Aldershot's first goal in the 63rd minute. It was from his needlessly conceded free-kick that Panayiotou escaped the attention of the Magpies defence to flash a header goalwards. It looked a relatively simple save for keeper Chris Dunn but, caught between punching, palming away or catching the ball, he fumbled at it and the ball squirmed over the goalline despite Ryan Upward's best efforts to keep it out.
Then, after Magpies sub Bernard Mensah's header had skimmed the post as the visitors pressed forward in search of an equaliser, Aldershot killed off the game in second half stoppage time.
Again Massey was the guilty party, failing to properly control a high ball, enabling Whittingam to skip past him into the penalty area. He still had plenty to do but his aim was accurate and the ball skidded past a despairing Dunn to confirm the home's side's victory.
The Magpies failed to make the most of having the wind at their backs in an uninspired first half display, although Danny Whitehall came the closest to breaking the deadlock with a looping header that was headed off the goalline by Kodi Lyons-Foster. Several Maidenhead players and fans banked up in the stand behind the goal felt it might have crossed the line.
That said the home side coped better with the appalling conditions and looked the more composed side. It took them 30 minutes to pose a real threat, however, with Alefe Santos turning well on the edge of the area and firing over. The best of their first half chances fell to the impressive Shamir Mullings three minutes later, but he failed to make the most of an excellent right-wing cross from Robbie Tinkler, failing to turn the ball past Dunn on the volley from around six yards out.
The Magpies countered immediately and to good effect. Josh Kelly was released wide on the right hand side and his searching cross was met by a sliding Whitehall, but Mitch Walker got out well to smother. Whitehall went close with the looping header five minutes before the break in what was probably the Magpies' best period in the game.
But they ended the half under the cosh once more when Tinkler skipped past Seth Twumasi and swung in a cross that appeared to deceive Dunn and bounced off the crossbar and away to safety. Then, just before the interval, Mullings shrugged off Twumasi at the far post but failed to direct his header on target.
Twumasi was heavily involved at the end of the half and was controversially booked in the final moments of the period after going over the back of a Shots' player and landing heavily on his head and neck. It looked like a caution would follow for the Shots but, instead, referee Carl Brook showed the Magpies' defender a yellow - much to the frustration and anger of the Maidenhead bench.
Maidenhead looked far more composed in the early stages of the second half, popping the ball around nicely. But their period of fine play fizzled out like a damp sparkler and it was left to Aldershot to provide the fireworks in the final quarter.
Panayiotou had already gone through on goal in the 57th minute after replacing Mohamed Bettamer. Joe Ellul had given away possession in the build up but the substitute failed to keep his composure and Dunn reacted quickly to save at his feet.
Five minutes later and the generally excellent Dunn handed the Shots their advantage when he failed to keep out Panayiotou's header. They would have fallen further behind in the 68th minute but for a goalline clearance from Massey. Ethan Chislett skinned Ellul on the near touchline before bearing down on goal. His curling shot was good enough to beat Dunn but not the backpeddling Massey who rescued Maidenhead this time.
Bernard Mensah and Jaden Blissett were brought on for Upward and Kelly as Devonshire rolled his final dice. Mensah might have salvaged a point with a shot that flew wide and a late header that skimmed the post, but a share of the spoils wouldn't have been a just outcome. In fact, as United pressed they left gaps at the back, with Panayiotou denied by Dunn in the 84th minute and Jacob Berkeley-Agyepong very nearly diverting a low cross beyond the Magpies keeper five minutes later.
The Shots fans were understandably nervous when the referee's assistant indicted five minutes of added time, but Whittingham settled those nerves when he took full advantage of some sloppy defensive play to fire home their second.
Whitehall sent a late free kick spinning towards the top corner but Walker scrambled across his goal to make an excellent save to cap off a fine team performance.
Afterwards a disappointed Alan Devonshire said: "At the end of the day you've got to give credit to them.
"But I'm very disappointed with some of my senior players. You'll have to ask them if they were thinking of next week but I wasn't.
"That's a poor display and they were two poor goals. We had the ball and we could have cleared it for both goals. I think Massey's had the ball twice. He had the ball at his feet and I don't know what he's trying to do (for the first goal) and then he's had a poor touch (for the second goal) and the player's nicked it off him. So, he's a senior player and that's disappointed me.
"We huffed and puffed and had some chances to equalise, with Bernard's header, but, listen, it weren't good enough second half.
"I don't know why they would be (looking ahead to the FA Cup tie with Rotherham) because they won't be playing some of them if they perform like that. The bread and butter is our league. If they're thinking of next week they've got a shock coming."
Maidenhead United: Dunn, Ellul, Comley, Cassidy, Kelly (Blissett 74'), Whitehall, Twumasi, Sheckleford, Upward (Mensah 69'), Massey, Smile.
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