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Kingstonian 2-0 Maidenhead United

Expectations may well have been high for the visit of Maidenhead United to the Kingsmeadow after October's down-and-up-and-down-again four-four draw, but this match was never going to recreate the heights of York Road. And so it proved with a somewhat scrappy affair settled by two similarly scrappy goals.

With injuries aplenty it was another unusual starting eleven on show for the home side with Matt Bradford continuing his impressive stint in the number two shirt and the no-longer cup-tied Chris Whelan returning in place of Julian Sills - out for the rest of the season with a broken leg.

Maidenhead brought with them a fine record on their travels, with just two defeats all season. They also brought along ex-K Mark Boyce - although he could only make the bench.

K's crafted their first chance of a blustery afternoon inside the opening three minutes. A woeful backpass from Dean Coppard put goalkeeper Richard Barnard under immediate pressure, and he smacked his attempted clearance into the onrushing Liam Collins. The linesman's up-turned flag would have wiped out the goal had Collins managed to stab home the rebound, but he didn't, so it didn't matter anyway. Still, a pleasing start.

A cross

Ryan Ashe went close when he blasted not too far over from distance, and Andy Cook finished in a similar vein a couple of minutes later. But it was the home side who opened the scoring, and from a predictable source.

Scott Steele sent a free-kick from the edge of the Magpies' box straight into their defensive wall, only for James Pinnock to pounce on the rebound. He chipped the ball towards the edge of the six-yard box where indecision between Barnard and Chris Elsegood allowed the ball to spin away towards the left-hand side of the area. Whelan managed to get to the ball first and chipped the ball over into the middle. Sills rose highest, and his flicked header - via the far post - was enough to open the scoring.

The good work done in getting their noses ahead was almost un-done by K's just a couple of minutes after the goal. A long kick out from Barnard landed on the head of Bradford, but his back header was weak, going straight to Ibraheem Adeoye. The striker had a great chance to equalise, but his attempted lob was far too high to trouble Lance Key.

Adeoye made Key stretch himself with his next chance though. A fine through ball by Ashe found the striker in space on the right-hand side of the area, but his shot was close enough to the K's minder for him to turn it away as he dived to his left.

Liam Collins - he say 'ooh'

As the rain intensified it was again K's in the ascendancy. They managed to secure their second goal of the afternoon on the half-hour mark, and it was that man Sills again. Steele started the move as he strove forward from the midfield. A tackle saw the ball rebound to Sills, whose stab forward looked suspiciously like a pass to the offside Grant Payne. Quick-thinking as ever, Sills sprinted forward, pushed his striker partner out of the way and moved to the edge of the area for a free shot at Barnard. The goalkeeper got a solid touch on the shot, but the ball still spun just inside the post, doubling the K's lead.

Although a two goal lead was in place, Maidenhead created a couple of very good chances to pull one back before the break. Lance Key almost gave them a chance on a plate twice within the same minute. First, a kick-out from his hands struck Adeoye, who couldn't control the ball, allowing it to run back to Key. Clearly confused, Key kicked immediately again, this time crashing the ball against Lawrence Yaku. He played a ball through to Adeoye - still offside from the last mistake - who turned the ball in. The linesman's flag brought relief to Key.

Grant Payne - still awaiting his first goal for the club - came as close as he possibly could just before the half-time break. A fine tackle by Whelan saw the ball spin out to the striker, on the right-wing. He cut in and sent a fine shot goalbound, but the ball struck the angle of post and crossbar and bounced away from the on-a-hat-trick Sills.

With the home side two goals up, the second half was always going to be one where they played somewhat on the break. The combative, defensive qualities of this current K's squad came to the fore, and Maidenhead really failed to create a meaningful chance.

Tim Sills looks for his hat-trick

K's did have some of their own, but they were thwarted time and again by the linesman's flag. Three times they managed to get the ball into the net, and three times the yellow rectangle denied them.

The match was really over as a contest at half-time, but K's never stopped probing, while keeping things tight at the back. Grant Payne left the field before the end, still awaiting his first goal for the club, but he showed that he will be a huge asset for some time to come. At the back Chris Whelan continued to show how important a player he is becoming, while Bradford took one more step up his own personal learning curve.

This win took K's up to eighth place, and kept them well in touch with a (money-spinning) fifth place finish. With so many players out - Peter Barnsby, Max Hustwick, Julian Sills, Matt Flitter (who limped off in the first half) to name just the defenders - this was a hugely impressive performance, underlining just how good the strength in depth is at this club.

Sat 8th Mar 2003
Kingsmeadow Stadium
Isthmian League Premier
Sills (2)
Maidenhead United0
1Lance Key
2Matt Bradford
3Matt Flitter16
4Craig Lewington
5Chris Whelan
6Mark Jones
7Liam Collins
8James Pinnock
9Tim Sills
10Grant Payne15
11Scott Steele12
12Scott Edgar11
13Adrian Jones
14Ronnie Green
15Bashiru Alimi10
16Matt Elverson3
Man of the Match
Mark Jones
Mark Jones
Match Report By
Gary Ekins