County were held to a frustrating 0-0 draw on the road on Tuesday evening, as Maidenhead Utd held The Hatters to a stalemate in the National League.
Boss Simon Rusk opted for three changes to the eleven which started in Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Aldershot Town at Edgeley Park, with Jamie Stott, Will Collar and Jordan Keane coming into the side to replace James Jennings, Jordan Williams and Richie Bennett.
The fixture, which marked Maidenhead’s 150th anniversary at York Road, was played in much milder conditions than those at a freezing Edgeley Park the weekend prior, with County warming up to the tie nicely in the early stages.
Collar, playing in his first start for the club following an impressive cameo on Saturday, almost had an immediate impact when the former Hamilton midfielder rushed into the box and headed John Rooney’s cross just over the crossbar.
Minutes later, Collar – deployed in a more attacking position by Simon Rusk – repeated the feat when he burst to the near post and glanced Tom Walker’s cross over the crossbar of Taye Ashby-Hammond again.
Rooney drilled straight at Ashby-Hammond from distance as County continued to press for an opener, but the two sides made it to the half-time interval with nothing between them by way of scoreline.
Dan Sparkes, once the scourge of County in a 1-0 FA Cup defeat at Barnet back in the 2018/19 campaign, then came close to grabbing the elusive opener immediately after the restart when he strode forward and forced a good low save by Ben Hinchliffe.
Rooney almost added another spectacular effort to his County repertoire when he looked to catch out home stopper Ashby-Hammond with a swirling effort from the right, but the Magpies ‘keeper did well to stop on the goalline.
County introduced Richie Bennett and Sam Minihan as time ticked on, and the latter almost played a pivotal role in an opening goal as he teed up Macauley Southam-Hales for a low cross from the right which Alex Reid looked to latch onto – only for a desperate scramble inside the area to deny The Hatters.
Approaching the final ten minutes, the home side saw a glorious chance go begging when defender Alan Massey met an inswinging corner and glanced a header onto the inside of the post and away from any further County danger.
Into the last minute of the ninety, late substitute Jordan Williams played a through ball in behind for Reid, who rounded Ashby-Hammond initially only to see the Maidenhead man claw the eventual effort away.
Four minutes of stoppage time were added by the officials, the last of which saw Rooney come agonisingly close to taking all three points when the attacking midfielder unleashed a spectacular long-range volley which Ashby-Hammond tipped onto the crossbar – and with it, the points were shared.
FULL-TIME: Maidenhead Utd 0-0 County
Booked: Collar, Keane.
County line-up (4-2-3-1): Hinchliffe; Southam-Hales, Palmer, Hogan ©, Stott; Maynard (Williams, 84), Keane; Collar (Minihan, 64), Rooney, Walker (Bennett, 60) Reid. Unused subs: Barnes, J. Jennings.