Maidenhead United v FC Halifax Town: Opposition Focus

We spoke to Daniel Darlington from the Maidenhead Advertiser for the lowdown on FC Halifax Town’s opponents this Saturday.

Thursday, 20th May 2021, 4:00 pm
Alan Devonshire, manager of Maidenhead United. (Photo by Lewis Storey/Getty Images)

How have Maidenhead done of late?

Like Halifax it’s been a bit of a mixed bag recently. At one stage it looked like they were firmly in contention for a play-off spot, but injuries, suspensions, a hectic fixture list and even players being absent for international duty has extinguished those prospects. That said they’re still capable of pulling a spectacular result out of the bag, like they did recently in winning 4-2 away at Hartlepool United with only 10 men. They also held Wrexham to a deserved 2-2 draw at York Road. But they’ve also struggled in matches you’d expect them to win, for example being held to a goalless draw at home to Barnet and away to Kings Lynn Town and losing at home to Weymouth. Injuries have undoubtedly proved costly. Nathan Blissett, Shaun Donnellan, Josh Smile and goalkeeper Taye Ashby-Hammond have all been ruled out for the season while Sam Barratt didn’t play against Notts County (4-0 defeat) and Sutton United (3-0 defeat). They remain 14th in the table, but would surely have finished higher but for the disruptions mentioned above.

Who will be their key man on Saturday?

I’m tempted to say their top goalscorer Danilo Orsi-Dadomo, who has scored 17 goals this season. He’s had a breakthrough season for the club after joining from Hampton & Richmond Borough in the summer and just has that innate ability to score goals. Alan Devonshire’s been delighted by his willingness to learn and, if he’s in the side, he’s always a goal threat. A clinical finisher who plays off the shoulder of the last man in the manner of a Danny Ings or Callum Wilson. Sam Barratt (if fit) has also had a very good season for the Magpies and no doubt improves them massively when he’s fit. However, I’d say the key to Maidenhead’s success this season has been their midfield trio of Rohan Ince, James Comley and Ryan Upward. When those three are fit they have the capability to win the midfield battle against pretty much anyone in the division.

Strengths/weaknesses?

In seasons gone by I’d have said their strength is their defensive resilience, however, this year they’ve conceded quite a few goals in a number of matches and haven’t been as watertight as I know Alan Devonshire would want them to be. However, they’ve recruited at least two decent players for every position and have looked a real threat on the counter this season. If they are able to soak up pressure and break quickly, through Dan Sparkes or Josh Coley down the sides, they’ll cause teams problems. This Magpies side hasn’t struggled for goals either with Orsi-Dadomo (17), Barratt (15), Blissett (6) and Coley (5) all contributing decent returns. They’ve become one of this season’s unlikely entertainers.

What can Halifax expect from them on Saturday?

In truth it’s very difficult to say. Despite Halifax’s position pushing for a play-off spot, it’s quite possible Maidenhead ‘turn up’ and play them off the park, now free from the pressures of challenging for the top seven themselves. However, I think it’s equally as likely they’ll struggle to match the intensity of a side that’s still got something to play for. The Magpies have put an awful lot of effort into this season and at times have looked capable of challenging some of the league’s bigger sides to get back into the promotion picture. But they’re also weary. They don’t have the biggest squad in the league, are still a part-time team and this will be their 14th match since the start of April. So it may not be a bad time for Halifax to play them. Their recent performances against Notts County and Sutton United would suggest they’re running out of steam due to all of the factors listed above, injuries, fixture list, suspensions etc. Devonshire may also tinker with his shape, system and personnel to have a look at a few things ahead of the new season.

Injuries/suspensions?

No suspensions that I’m aware of. But Nathan Blissett, Remy Clerima, Josh Smile, Shaun Donnellan, Taye Ashby-Hammond are all definitely out, while there are question marks over Sam Barratt and goalkeeper Rhys Lovett. The Magpies signed James Holden from Reading u23s as emergency loan cover after midfielder James Comley was forced to go in goal against Notts County when Lovett went off injured.

Likely line up and formation?

4-4-2: Holden/Lovett; Twumasi, Massey, Parry, Wells; Sparkes, Upward, Ince, Comley; Coley, Orsi-Dadomo. Subs: Smith, Keetch, Kelly,