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Match Reports

Maidenhead 0-0 Notts

Stalemate at York Road

1 January 2020

We extended our unbeaten run to six league matches with a goalless draw at Maidenhead on New Year's Day.

It was a cagey encounter at York Road, with chances hard to come by at either end for the majority of proceedings, but we kept a third successive clean sheet to earn a point, which was enough to keep us in the play-offs.

Looking to replicate the performance of our 3-0 win against United on Boxing Day, Neal Ardley reverted to the same XI that started six days ago.

That meant Damien McCrory, Sam Osborne, Enzio Boldewijn and Kristian Dennis were back in from the off after being named as substitutes at Solihull Moors on Saturday.

Zoumana Bakayogo, Tom Crawford, Nathan Tyson and Wes Thomas replaced the quartet on the bench, where they were joined by Pierce Bird.

Osborne claimed the first shot of the afternoon on seven minutes, when he found space on the edge of the area after receiving the ball from Mitch Rose's fine switch of play. Dion Kelly-Evans had made a good run on the overlap, but the winger opted to strike at goal - his effort lacked power and Chris Dunn easily held on. 

He had an even better chance in the 10th after Michael Doyle sent Enzio Boldewijn in behind and he stood a cross up to the back post for his fellow wideman, but the youngster got well under it and skied his effort.

We were dominating possession and getting runners in behind the home side's defence regularly but the final ball was lacking as we reached the midpoint of the half.

That was not the case on 26 minutes, though, when we should have gone ahead. Boldewijn was fouled by Rene Steer, who was carded, and picked himself up to send a peach of a delivery into United's box, but somehow none of Dennis, Connell Rawlinson or Alex Lacey could divert the ball goalwards.

Maidenhead weren't without threat, though, and were looking to catch us on the break, with Josh Kelly getting into several good crossing positions but unable to pick out his team-mates.

But a counter-attack of our own almost led to the opener on 36 minutes, when Dennis got in behind before finding strike partner Kyle Wootton, who in turn fed Boldewijn on the right flank. He looked to cross low to Dennis, but a vital intervention meant the ball never reached the 10-goal man, who would've backed himself to snap up the chance.

He had another sighter with five remaining in the half and Boldewijn was the architect again, this time cutting inside onto his left foot before shooting, but his effort lacked power and Dennis brought it under his spell before attempting an audacious backheel, which was well blocked by a Maidenhead man.

Kelly-Evans made a good sliding challenge on United's top scorer Daniel Whitehall before Sam Slocombe was called into action for the first time, making an easy save from Remy Clerima as the hosts threatened towards the end of the half.

And, just before one minute of added time was indicated, they should have gone ahead. Kelly picked out James Akintunde at the back post, but he could only find the side netting as he met the low cross, and we breathed a sigh of relief before heading down the tunnel.

The first half's pattern continued in the opening exchanges of the second. We were looking to probe and create openings, while the hosts attemped to break with pace when they won the ball back, but, besides a booking for Doyle, there was nothing to report in the 10 minutes that followed the restart. 

Going more direct almost paid off on 57, when Slocombe's long free-kick was flicked on by Wootton and Dennis lifted an effort over from inside the area.

The keeper was forced into his first meaningful save of the afternoon in the following minute, with Whitehall testing him at his near post - he got down well to make the stop.

McCrory and Kelly-Evans both went into the book in quick succession following a pair of physical challenges, and the latter's gave Maidenhead a free-kick in a dangerous area on our right. James Comley whipped it in low and Kelly flicked it goalwards, with Slocombe making a smart stop to turn it over.

The hosts were seeing more of the ball than they had at any point in the game and, looking to combat that and regain the impetus, Ardley sent Tyson on in place of Osborne on 67 minutes.

It didn't have an immediate impact and Maidenhead had a golden opportunity to take the lead after winning a cheap corner as the clock ticked past 70. The delivery itself was poor, but it broke for Akintunde on the edge of the area and Slocombe could only parry his shot as far as United skipper Alan Massey. The centre half looked to loop the headed rebound into the net but got too much on it, and it sailed over the bar. 

Thomas replaced Dennis with a quarter of an hour remaining and we switched to a 4-3-3, with Boldewijn given the freedom to roam from the centre of the park.

Lacey headed a free-kick off target and Wootton was booked for a late challenge on Comley as the minutes ebbed away.

With just three remaining, Akintunde looked set to nod home Kelly's dinked ball but Kelly-Evans came out of nowhere to make a fantastic headed clearance from our own goalmouth.

Four minutes were added on for stoppages, in which Akintunde wasted a good crossing opportunity and McCrory made a strong block on Steer, but very little else happened before the referee called time on our first game of 2020. 


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