Magpies’ Head-er Leads To Defeat In Maiden Game
The Hatters’ first match in non-league’s top tier for six years saw them edged out by a single goal at Edgeley Park, at the hands of the ‘Magpies’ of Maidenhead United.
Jake Cassidy’s headed effort after 78 minutes proved the difference in a tight game of relatively few opportunities, albeit including two from County that were cleared off the line.
For what was a televised kick-off brought forward to 12:30, the Hatters took to the field showing just two changes from the line-up that had started the final friendly of their unbeaten pre-season campaign, at Oldham Athletic, a week previously. Skipper Paul Turnbull, together with new father Jordan Keane, returned to replace Elliot Osborne and recently-arrived, season-long loanee Ben Jackson – who were both named among the substitutes.
County began as brightly as the lunchtime sunshine over SK3 – earning four corners in the course of the opening 10 minutes or so. From the second – delivered by Sam Walker on the right – Sam Minihan headed over, and from the third – courtesy of Turnbull on the opposite flank – Keane went closer still, as his glanced effort towards the far corner of the net was parried behind by visiting goalkeeper Taye Ashby-Hammond.
The Magpies did not register their first attempt on target until the 20th minute – when Josh Smile’s low drive at the edge of the County box was comfortably smothered by Ben Hinchliffe. Five minutes later, Welsh striker Cassidy, who had netted against the Hatters at EP six months earlier whilst on loan at Maidstone United, blasted wide of the left post from a similar distance.
The remainder of the half saw chances for either side at a premium – although Dan Cowan did well to latch on to a Walker through-ball, before firing over from just inside the area.
HALF-TIME: County 0, Maidenhead 0.
Maidenhead began the second half with a show of greater attacking intent, and, within five minutes of the resumption, Cassidy was on target with a header following Seth Twumasi’s cross from the right – only for Hinchliffe to catch the effort on the bounce without undue ceremony.
Five minutes later, the Hatters had a golden opportunity to break the deadlock – but Jake Kirby, after being played through on goal by Adam Thomas and then rounding Ashby-Hammond, saw his shot cleared off the line by Joe Ellul.
The contest was increasingly taking on the appearance of one in which a single goal would prove decisive. And, with a dozen minutes left on the clock, Cassidy duly rose to meet Smile’s cross from the left with a looping header to give the visitors the lead – together, as it would turn out, with the three points.
Three minutes later, the Hatters looked for all the world to have equalised – but Ash Palmer’s header from Osborne’s free-kick on the left was somehow kept out on the line by Ashby-Hammond.
FULL-TIME: County 0, Maidenhead 1 (Cassidy, 78).
Team (4-2-3-1): Hinchliffe; Minihan, Palmer, Keane, Cowan; Turnbull (Capt.), Walker; Thomas (Bell, 81), Dimaio (Osborne, 64), Kirby (Jackson, 87); Mulhern.
Unused Subs: Ormson, Curran.
Man of the Match: Minihan.
Attendance: 4,626 (64 away).
Reporter: Gareth Evans.