Maidenhead v FC Halifax Town preview

Alan Devonshire  - Pic By James Williamson
Alan Devonshire - Pic By James Williamson

FC Halifax Town make the long trip south to Maidenhead on Saturday (3pm) aiming to maintain their strong start to the season.

The Shaymen are fifth in the National League and have lost only two of their first 10 games, the kind of form which saw boss Jamie Fullarton win August’s manager of the month award.

Only three teams have conceded more goals than Maidenhead, who, after a poor start to the season, had been in-form prior to Saturday’s disappointing 1-0 defeat at Barnet.

That brought an end to their four-match unbeaten run in which they defeated Maidstone (3-2), Braintree Town (2-0) and Eastleigh (2-0). It would have been four wins but for a late lapse against Bromley in which they conceded twice in injury-time to draw 2-2.

Josh Kelly is probably their player to watch at the moment. He was on loan at Walton Casuals last season, scoring 40 plus goals in their promotion campaign, but returned to the squad in the summer and has shot to prominence in recent weeks with spectacular strikes against Bromley and Eastleigh.

He’s only 19 but has more than made up for the absence of Ryan Bird, who scored 20 goals for Dover last season, but has been out injured.

Jordan Archer, a new loan signing from Bury FC, and Adrian Clifton, who missed the past couple of games because he was on international duty for Montserrat, have both linked up well with Kelly in recent weeks.

Harold Odametey, who arrived at York Road from Hampton & Richmond Borough at the start of last season, has also been in great form for the Magpies, driving the side forward with his surging runs from midfield. Nana Owusu, the former Reading u23s player, has also looked a threat in recent weeks playing on the right of midfield.

Odametey is keen for the Magpies to race out of the blocks on Saturday, having struggled to get out of gear at Barnet.

“We worked hard as we usually do,” he said.

“But it just didn’t happen for us on Saturday and we’ll be looking to make amends by getting the points on the board this weekend.

“They (Barnet) were a good side but we didn’t give that extra 10 per cent. We didn’t have the ability to break them down.”

Looking ahead to Saturday’s visit of Halifax he added: “They’re going to be up there.

“We can’t take them for granted. But we’ll be hungry to right our wrongs from Barnet.

“We have to be better. We have to be more switched on. I didn’t feel we were very sharp on Saturday.

“It’s been a roller-coaster season, but would you want it any other way. We’ve been on a nice little run lately, but started poorly so it’s been mediocre, let’s say that, but we’re definitely improving. And there’s definitely more to come from us.”

Maidenhead made an awful start to the campaign, collecting just one point from their first five matches. The team struggled and it took them a few weeks to find their feet following the summer departures of key players such as Harry Pritchard (to Blackpool), Sam Barratt (to Southend), Sean Marks (Hornchurch), Jake Goodman (Bromley) and Max Kilman (Wolves).

The Magpies should be keen to bounce back following Saturday’s below par performance, and they’ll be keen to put on a decent performance in front of their own fans. James Comley and Clifton should be back in contention following international duty.

Manager Alan Devonshire won promotion to the National League in 2017 and led the club to a very respectful 12th place finish last season.

Saturday’s National League fixtures:

AFC Fylde v Aldershot Town

Boreham Wood v Barrow

Bromley v Salford City

Dagenham & Redbridge v Chesterfield

Dover Athletic v Solihull Moors

Gateshead v Braintree Town

Hartlepool United v Eastleigh

Havant & Waterlooville v Sutton United

Leyton Orient v Barnet

Maidenhead United v FC Halifax Town

Maidstone United v Harrogate Town

Wrexham v Ebbsfleet United