City dramatically snatched an unlikely victory with two late goals
that left Maidenhead reeling after the visitors had dominated the
first half and taken the lead early in the second. That could easily
have seen City throw in the towel after our discouraging pre-season
but Tim Harris gambled with a string of attacking substitutions
and it paid off as his players responded with a gutsy come back
sealed by a Jamie Reid wonder goal.
Maidenhead dominated the first half throughout, putting together
some slick passing that didn't make them look too out of place in
their pseudo-Arsenal kit. For all their impressive moves though
they actually didn't manage to find the crucial scoring touch and
found City's defence just about coping at full stretch, Lyndon Tomkins
having an especially solid game with some fine blocks. Even when
the vistors got through they found Matt Bath in great shape, making
an early good save from close range as a good move ended with a
shot from Brian Haule. Towards the end of the half Bath again did
well as a long distance strike from Dwaine Clarke needed to be tipped
over the City bar. Our best effort of the first half saw Jason Welsh
put a header just wide after some good movement from Fowler and
Sykes created the chance, Welsh should have had at least one more
chance on goal but was denied by a dodgy flag from the linesman.
City reshuffled in the second half and with Aaron Wilson in a more
attacking role it was City who were now exerting pressure, and Jason
Welsh couldn't have gone much closer as he reached a Sykes corner
to crash a solid header on to the cross bar - the ball flying down
on to the goal line but some how staying out of the net. City's
attacks were almost our undoing though as Corbett was dispossessed
and Adie Allen found the City midfield providing sparse defensive
cover. He was able to run into a central position before letting
fly from nearly 30 yards. His shot skimmed and bobbled across the
turf, and was accurate and quick enough to slip into the net to
leave City chasing the match. As City scratched their heads the
game almost disappeared out of reach as Adie Allen slipped through
only to see his first shot blocked by Matt Bath rushing out of his
goal, and even more impressively the follow-up effort also pushed
wide with a fantastic reaction stop.
Tim Harris didn't hang about and as City chased the game the boss
sent on first Joey Tustain, then Jamie Reid and then Jody Bevan
in a series of attacking substitutions. The midfield slowly got
a tighter grip and with Maidenhead struggling to clear their lines
finally came the crucial equaliser. Good persistence by Bevan down
the left saw us get into the box and when the ball was pushed square
it cut out several defenders and neatly into the path of Wilson.
The boy with the red boots showed great composure to drill the ball
low into the net from the edge of the area, and City were level.
Suddenly the game was alive and it looked more likely that City
would take advantage. However, when the goal came it was really
a strike that was worthy of winning the match and made you feel
slightly less guilty about our, perhaps sligthtly undeserved, victory.
A Wilson corner was headed away by United but looped towards Reid
guarding the midfield area. The former youth team skipper brought
the ball down on his chest and let fly with a volley which he caught
as sweetly as anything you'd see in the top flight. It was one of
those strikes that you knew was in long before you saw the net ripple,
even from 35 yards out the keeper stood no chance. Cue sheer delirium
all around the ground as Reid and the rest of the side went mental,
interestingly both he and Wilson charged for the dug-out on scoring
- saying much for the squad spirit and the part the coaching staff
are playing. Even Matt Bath ran as far as he normally manages in
the season to get in on the celebrations, whilst Dave Wilkinson's
flip-flops were flying in all directions in the jubilant melee.
T-Ender Match Snaps
Tim Harris was left
with few selection options as the squad was depleted by injury.
Chris Thompson was pressed into action despite being told to wait
a couple of weeks longer before playing with his broken nose. City
gave debuts to four with Tom Hamblin, Aaron Wilson, Jason Welsh
and Mike Fowler all getting their first game, and Joey Tustain making
a first appearance later from the bench Maidenhead had an even newer
side after relegation from Conference South last season, and boasted
"They can close the
goal of the season award already".
Aaron Wilson found
the going tough at left wing-back in the first half, but Tim Harris
isn't afraid to change things and at half-time the youngster was
shifted to an attacking midfield role behind the front two. Wilson
looked a lot more comfortable and City took the game to United in
the second half, with Aaron himself getting the equaliser.
The last City debutant
to score before Aaron Wilson today was Luke Corbett in October 2005
who smashed in two on his City debut at Mangotsfield, the club he'd
just left. Wilson waited 81 minutes for his goal, Corbett scored
in the 2nd minute of his opening match and with his first two touches
of the ball in our colours.
If City are honest with
themselves we got out of gaol a little today and a win was almost
certainly more than we deserved, certainly after the first half.
None the less this come back showed some great belief in the side,
and hopefully will give us more confidence after the pre-season
struggles. Maidenhead looked a decent side and can expect to be
on the edge of the play-offs come the end of the season, so this
was a good three points.
The opening day of the BGB Southern Premier saw one big shock
as title favourites King's Lynn saw their hopes take an early
blow with a 2-0 home defeat to Halesowen. Our own tips for the
top stayed on track though: Bath City winning 2-0 at Corby, the
second goal made at Meadow Park - Chris Holland heading in from
Mark McKeever's cross. Another former Tiger on the mark was Lee
Smith, but his penalty at Hemel Hempstead came in a 4-1 defeat
for Cirencester which will not be the start their new boss was
In the Midlands Division newcomers Bishop's Cleeve fell 1-0 to
fellow Southern League debutants Chasetown, while Chris Burns
equalised for Cinderford to get his first point as boss of the
Forest side in a 2-2 draw at Aylesbury, Richard Kear also finding
the net. City are also a step closer to knowing their FA Cup opponents
after today's preliminary round results. City will be at home
to either Welton Rovers or Liskeard Athletic, beating Wimborne
2-0 and Sherborne 4-1 respectively.