Westleigh Park, Havant
It would be fair to say we’ve had a good month. At the end of February we were
in 18th position, having not won for a while but having picked up a
few draws against top half sides. However it was always felt, having seen those
games through and only lost to Welling in that sequence, we would need to
capitalise on our less stressful set in March and early April, before another
murder run at the back end of the campaign.
Safe to say, so far so good then as March has thus far seen
four home wins (including a 5-0 thrashing of Billericay) and a hard fought away
draw at Dover Athletic, having gone into half-time there two goals behind. We
presently sit ninth, ten points from the relegation zone, and nine from the
play-offs and, with rock-bottom financial basket-cases Truro due to visit
Westleigh Park this coming Good Friday, we have power to add before April
cheerily greets us with an away game against Hayes & Yeading on Easter
I mention the play-offs as a marker of how far we have come
rather than an expectation of a push. It is far too late for that, but it means
that despite the maths, I am entirely relaxed about our Conference South status
and, indeed, about our home form. At no point travelling down to this game, nor
as I clicked through the turnstile, nor indeed during our second half
performance which was so weak it looked like it’d been on hunger strike since
Christmas, did I think anything other than three points were ours.
We made hard work of it without doubt, passes and clearances
always seeming to end up at Maidenhead feet, our positioning not as solid as we
have come to expect during this splendid string of successes, but nonetheless
it is often said that the sign of a team doing well is a tenacity and ability
to grind it out when it isn’t happening at an inspiration level. We’ve been
spoilt lately on the latter score, so I’m certainly in no mood to criticse.
Indeed, our attitude to winning now has come a long way and our
relationship with three-point bagging is similar to that between the Cookie
Monster and cookies – the next one never seems that far away and is what we’re
all about. That might sound obvious for a football team, but at the start of the
season, we appeared to have lost our appetite for cookies altogether.
The manner of today’s victory was shaped by a dominant first
half bookended by goalsch. After eight minutes, the incredible Chris Arthur, a
man who could moonlight as a Japanese bullet train, hurtled past a Maidenhead
defence looking like concrete-reinforced fence posts compared to Chris’s
galloping stallion moves. He then walloped in a first time whelp that he made seem
effortless, the clinical nature of it taking us all a bit by surprise.
The second goal followed on 41 minutes when Sahr Kabba was
felled in the penalty box. The linesman seemed pretty convinced, immediately bringing
the flag in front of his chest like a man ashamed of his nipples suddenly
realising he was publicly topless. However, if we’re brutally honest, it was softer than
Still, if you believe in natural justice, then the fact
that Christian Nanetti hit a poor penalty which was easily pushed away by Billy
Lumley will sort you out. However, it was to be rough justice as first to react
was Steve Ramsay, slotting home swiftly before dancing and laughing round Lumley as though
he were bullying a maypole.
In the end this was sufficient a cushion for us to be
relatively untroubled by the poor performance during the second half. Another home
win against Truro on Friday would certainly put Lee Bradbury in contention as
Conference South manager of the month. Although given the apparent curse of
said bauble, I’m quite happy for us to be satisfied with a job well done by a gaffer
who has won us over relatively quickly after our suspicious minds greeted his
appointment with extreme caution, and leave the awards for needier managers.