FA Cup journey ends with Maidenhead defeat

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Maidenhead United vs Hastings United – FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round

Hastings United’s hopes of a place in the FA Cup First Round Proper were doused by resilient National League outfit Maidenhead United. The home side scored early goals at the beginning of each half which meant United were constantly chasing the game and open to the Magpies swift attacks. With just four minutes on the clock Maidenhead’s Sam Barratt drove into the bottom corner and they doubled their lead on the half-hour through Kane Ferdinand. Before half-time, United’s Kenny Pogue lofted home a clever finish, after his initial shot had been saved, to keep the ‘U’s in touching distance. However, a third Maidenhead goal two minutes into the second-half reopened a two-goal gap to end United’s FA Cup journey for this season.

Saturday 16th October, a warm sunny day in Maidenhead with players shadows on a pitch which looks in good condition. The ‘U’s are sporting their sky-blue away kit with white shorts and blue socks while Maidenhead wear black & white striped shirts with black shorts and white socks. United are without the suspended Ben Pope and injured Lloyd Dawes. Maidenhead’s FA Cup pedigree comes in the form of their manager Alan Devonshire who won the trophy with West Ham United in 1980. Indeed it was his cross from which Trevor Brooking headed the only goal of the final.

The Magpies start the game and start strongly, almost opening the scoring on three minutes. A long ball forward is laid off to Nathan Blissett who skews a shot wide under pressure from Ollie Black. It’s an early warning but United can do nothing to prevent the home side taking the lead. A loose ball is won in midfield which frees Sam Barratt on the edge of the area, he shoots hard and low into the bottom corner before United’s defence can close him down. The ‘U’s are behind before they’ve had a chance to settle into the game.

On seven minutes Sam Hasler’s pass around the corner wins United a free-kick when Tom Chalmers is fouled but the chance comes to nothing and it is Maidenhead who continue to look the more likely. Louis Rogers has to be on his toes when tipping over a shot from 10 yards and then from the corner a header flashes over the bar.

United’s first chance of note arrives on 15 minutes. A Black long throw is headed behind for a corner and it is Black himself who meets the incoming cross with a volley which flies just over. Maidenhead head straight down the other end and only the legs of Rogers prevent Josh Kelly increasing their lead. This sets a pattern for the remainder of the first-half. Whenever United make inroads, the Magpies follow suit almost immediately. A ‘U’s free-kick hits the first man and Maidenhead break resulting in another header over. Two Black long throws are then scrambled clear before the home side twice go close, Barratt and then Remy Clerima both shoot wide when both should at least hit the target.

The blueprint for the game continues. Hasler’s powerful shot from 25 yards is too hot for the goalkeeper to handle but he recovers to nick the ball away from Dave Martin before he can tuck in the equaliser. Cue Maidenhead marauding down the left through Kelly, a break which ends with a last-ditch tackle rebounding into the path of Kane Ferdinand who calmy slots home the Magpies second goal.
Maidenhead haven’t dominated and United haven’t been overawed by their National League opponents, yet after half-an-hour United find themselves two goals down.

The ‘U’s bring themselves back into the game just two minutes later. A superb outside of the boot pass from Hasler to Pogue beats the offside trap and though Pogue’s initial shot is saved he has the awareness to loft his second shot over the goalkeeper and defender into the top corner, much to the delight of the United fans behind the goal.

Two minutes later and United could have been level. Jack Dixon fires a magnificent 40-yard crossfield pass into the path of Chalmers, played inside to Sam Adams but with Hasler poised to run onto the next pass inside the area the ball is a tad behind him allowing a defender to nip in and the opening is closed.
The final chance of the half belongs to the home side. A free-kick is awarded just outside the area and the resulting shot is heading for the top corner only for Rogers to make a flying save and keep the ‘U’s very much in the game.

Half-time: Maidenhead United 2 – 1 Hastings United

United are in charge of the restart but again it is the home side who are quickest out of the blocks, extending their lead after two second-half minutes. A low cross-come-shot through a crowded penalty area isn’t cleared allowing Blissett to poke home from close-range. The referee’s assistant raises a late flag, and it looks like United are reprieved for an offside or a foul, but the referee has a quick chat and awards the goal anyway to leave the ‘U’s two goals adrift once more.

The visitors keep plugging away, playing neat football, and always looking to get forward. Another Black long throw is cleared back to the thrower and his deep cross is met by the head of Craig Stone. He’s aiming for the far post, but the ball drifts the wrong side of the upright and a fraction out of Pogue’s reach.

Midway through the half Blissett is lucky to escape with only a booking when he catches Hasler with a swinging arm after a tussle on the touchline. Then Maidenhead’s Jay Mingi, on loan from Portsmouth, suddenly comes to the fore. He’s already had one shot saved by Rogers and when he picks the ball up just outside his own area he travels at pace to the other end of the pitch where Rogers uses his legs again to prevent him scoring.

There’s then a period of attrition with neither side carving out an opportunity until Mingi fires in a low stinging shot which Rogers turns around the post for a corner. With United ten minutes from an exit they trawl up another burst of energy. Lanre Azeez battles for the ball in midfield and frees Marcus Goldsmith down the right but his dangerous cross is cut out by the goalkeeper who gathers at the second attempt. A few minutes later and Pogue almost recreates his first-half goal. Ryan Worrall’s pass over the top is collected by Pogue but his lofted effort doesn’t have enough power and the goalkeeper is able to backtrack and save.

The excellent Mingi has one final attempt to get himself on the scoresheet. He wins a tackle in midfield and is through but sees his goal bound shot brilliantly cleared off the line by the head of an alert Gary Elphick.

United’s supporters, who have been in fine voice all afternoon, belt out their final montage of songs and chants. The referee’s whistle then brings an end to the ‘U’s FA Cup campaign. It started with an away tie in August and continued with two away ties in September and two more away ties in October. The away support has been amazing throughout and a good quarter of today’s attendance have travelled from Hastings.

Full-time: Maidenhead United 3 – 1 Hastings United

Not to be for United today, we didn’t hit the heights of recent weeks and Maidenhead were good value for their win. While United have played better this season today’s performance was as much to do with the opposition’s display and certainly no reflection on United’s endeavour against a side three divisions higher up the food chain. Our attention turns back to the league where we have some catching up to do, beginning with a trip to Hythe Town on Tuesday evening.

Hastings United: Rogers, Black, Elphick, Stone, Chalmers (Azeez 46’), Dixon, Adams (Worrall 69’), Hasler, Goldsmith, Pogue, Martin (Legg 78’)

Maidenhead United: Lovett, Wells, De Havilland, Clerima, Blissett, Ferdinand, Upward, Mingi (Adams 90’), Kelly (Asonganyi 90’), Massey, Barratt (Smith 82’)

United goal: Pogue (32’)
Maidenhead goals: Barratt (4’), Ferdinand (29’), Blissett (48’)

Attendance: 912

Bob Quinn
Twitter: @BobJQuinn