Maidenhead v FC Halifax Town: Opposition focus

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FC Halifax Town will face a Maidenhead side on Saturday struggling to reverse a slump in form, according to Daniel Darlington from the Maidenhead Advertiser.

The Magpies won five of their first eight games, but have lost four and drawn two of their last six, leaving them 14th in the National League with 18 points from 14 games.

They go into Saturday’s game on the back of successive defeats to Dover and Barrow.

How has Maidenhead’s start to the season been?

Maidenhead’s start has been a bit of a strange one. They picked up some impressive, and unexpected, wins in their opening matches, including victories at Yeovil Town (2-1), Stockport County (1-0), and Sutton United (3-0).

But they haven’t won any of their next six matches, losing four of them. It’s been something of a roller-coaster but they’re in a slump at the moment that they’re struggling to get out of.

Only one home win so far - any reason for that?

In fairness they haven’t had an awful lot of luck at home so far. In several of their matches at York Road they’ve played reasonably well without picking up the points. By all accounts they were decent in Tuesday’s 2-1 defeat to Dover (I wasn’t at the game) and they deserved more from their matches against Hartlepool (1-0), Bromley (2-1) and Dagenham & Redbridge (1-0).

I think maybe the system they play does work better away from home but I wouldn’t read too much into that. Away from home they’ve been able to defend in depth, be resilient and hit teams on the counter. Manager Alan Devonshire admitted earlier in the season he’s still trying to come up with a formula which works better at home, but, if they’d had the rub of the green they’d probably have picked up a few more victories on home soil.

Which players have impressed so far?

Josh Smile was very impressive in the opening weeks of the season, scoring a number of goals from midfield – including a thunderbolt in the 2-2 draw at Wrexham - and picking up a number of man of the match nominations.

Joe Ellul has also slotted in well at centre-back to form an excellent partnership with captain Alan Massey.

They’ve been backed up by goalkeeper Taye Ashby-Hammond, on loan from Fulham’s u23s, who’s made some exceptional saves to keep the Magpies in certain matches and earn them three points in others. His penalty save at 2-1 in the home game against Chorley surely helped the side go on and win 4-1 – their only home win of the season.

Who will be your dangerman on Saturday?

Danny Whitehall will likely be a dangerman on Saturday. He’s been in scoring form of late and netted a great free-kick in last week’s 2-1 defeat to Dover.

James Comley often pulls the strings for the Magpies. If he plays well, they tend to play well and his ability from deadball situations, picking out the likes of Jake Cassidy and the other front men, makes him a threat.

Maidenhead’s style of play - what can Halifax expect to come up against?

Defensively the Magpies should be pretty difficult to break down, but they’ve struggled to score goals at York Road. They haven’t managed more than one in any of their matches other than the 4-1 success against Chorley. They’ve also had their fair share of injuries and knocks in recent weeks meaning Devonshire hasn’t been blessed with options to change a game with his substitutions.

Injuries/suspensions?

Shamir Fenelon is likely to be out for the next few weeks having picked up a knock in training. Defender Freddie Grant has also missed the first few weeks of the season. Those who have been out injured are starting to return to the first team such as Remy Clerima, Joe Ellul, Rene Steer, Josh Kelly, Bernard Mensah

Likely line up and formation?

Ashby-Hammond; Twumasi, Ellul, Massey, Steer; Upward, Comley, Smile, Mensah; Whitehall, Cassidy.

Follow all the action from York Road on Saturday afternoon with our live blog at www.halifaxcourier.co.uk.