City’s excellent start to the season continued with a single goal win over Maidenhead United that took them to the top of the Blue Square South. After last season’s meeting at York Road which was played in farcical conditions, with the pitch under several inches of water, it was the complete opposite this time as York Road was bathed in hot sunshine from the word go. The result was the same, though, as City grabbed the only goal during the latter stages of the first half, then defended that lead in the manner they did so often last year. They did spurn a number of chances to make the victory more comfortable and then suffered a few nervy moments in the closing stages, but it was another solid performance that further shows how well they have adapted to a higher level of football.
For the first time this season City fielded an unchanged starting XI from their last match and within three minutes they had already created two openings. First, Darren Edwards just failed to get on to the end of a Dave Gilroy cross, then Gilroy himself could only direct a header straight at keeper Wells from a Jim Rollo centre. This lively start continued with Gilroy firing over the bar from a Mark McKeever pass after seven minutes and then dragging a shot wide eight minutes later. Having failed to turn this good start into goals it was understandable that the home side would begin to come into the game. Daley saw his shot blocked away for a corner by Chris Holland on 28 minutes then Newman fired wide after latching onto a Wilson-Dennis flick. So it was somewhat against the run of play that City took the lead on 38 minutes. Lewis Hogg drove the ball low into the area where Gilroy got the faintest touch to help it on to Edwards to convert from a few yards out. Twice before the interval United blasted half-chances high over Paul Evans’ goal, Wilson-Dennis and Telemacque the guilty players.
City were given a wake-up call just five minutes into the second half. Newman well-struck low drive came crashing back from the foot of the post and from the follow-up Evans had to be at his best to turn away a Daly shot. Maidenhead were now largely on top, though City were threatening on the break and creating the better openings. One such break on the hour mark saw Gilroy race clear only to fire the ball high and wide of the goal. Understandably given the conditions City were beginning to tire, even with the introduction of Paul Keddle and Steve Jones for McKeever and Hogg. Maidenhead had also made a couple of changes, Romeo and James adding to their attack, and they were pressing harder for an equaliser. Sekani Simpson did well to deny Smith then Rollo and Matt Coupe doubled up to block Cooper’s effort. Another break saw Gilroy again waste an opening and the last few minutes saw two heart-stopping moments for City followers. On 88 minutes James headed over the bar from close range and then as the game reached stoppage time, Romeo’s effort looked destined for the net before James inadvertently deflected the ball over the bar. The referee did not help City’s cause by playing nearly five minutes of stoppage time but he finally brought the game to an end and City could celebrate another hard-earned success.
The tired way the victorious City players trooped of the pitch at the end of the game showed how much they had given to continue the great start to the season. It was another performance where singling out individuals was impossible – the team spirit that was so evident in the title success last season still strong and combined with the obvious skill levels promising much for the rest of the season. The only minor downside of the game was the failure to score a second goal that would have avoided the nervous finale – the late deflection could easily have ended up in the net and undone all the hard work – Gilroy missed several chances and his confidence in front of goal did seem to fade as the game wore on. However, the chances were being created and it will only be a matter of time before he breaks his season duck and, with goals already coming from all areas of the team, that could ignite City’s season even more.