Following the postponement last weekend of Aldershot Town’s home match against Boreham Wood due to Storm ‘Dennis’, The Shots hope to be back in action again this Saturday, when they are due to make the relatively short trip to Berkshire to take on Alan Devonshire’s Maidenhead United, who currently sit one place and one point ahead of The Shots.
Rob Worrall previews the game:
Manager Danny Searle’s continued attempts to strengthen his playing squad have again been thwarted and at the time of publishing this match preview, no new signings have been confirmed. The squad will however, be boosted by the return of defender George Fowler after several months out with injury. Mo Bettamer is recovering from an ankle injury and will definitely miss Saturday’s game. Otherwise, Searle should have a full squad to pick from.
Name: Maidenhead United
Nickname: The Magpies
Manager: Alan Devonshire
Stadium: Yok Road
2018/19 National League position: 19th
Current National League position: 17th
Senior football in Maidenhead came about in October 1870 when Maidenhead Football Club were formed, with the club playing their first match at York Road in February 1871. The ‘United’ part of their name was added in August 1920, just as the freehold to York Road was bought for £1,450 from William Grenfell, later known as Lord Desborough. In 2004 they became an inaugural member of the new Conference South division, only to be relegated in that first season. They did, however, bounce back up at the first attempt the following season via the play-offs. In 2016-17, The Magpies won the (now renamed) National League South, earning 98 points along the way to take their place in the top tier of Non-League. They finished 12th in their first season at this level and 19th last season.
Magpies boss Alan Devonshire is an experienced manager who is currently undergoing his second spell at the club. He began life in football at non-league Southall before he was picked up by West Ham United. With the Hammers, he spent 14 years between 1976 and 1990. After over 350 appearances with the club he departed for the final two years of his playing career at Second Division Watford. In 1996, he took charge of Maidenhead United and had a successful reign at the club. He won promotion from the Isthmian League Division One in 2000 and won 4 Berks & Bucks Senior Cups. He also won the Isthmian Full Members Cup (1997) and made the 2000 Isthmian League Cup Final. He moved on to Hampton & Richmond in 2003 for eight years where he reached the FA Cup First Round proper, finished runners-up in the Conference South (2009) but lost in the play-offs. Previously, he won promotion from the Isthmian League Division One South & the Isthmian Premier Division (2007). Devonshire took over as Braintree manager in May 2011 as they ventured into the National League for the first time. He spent four seasons with the Iron, remarkably taking his part-time side to the Conference Play-Off semi-final, prior to re-joining Maidenhead in 2015. Two years later he steered them to the National League South title and a twelfth-place finish in their first season in the National League.
After a disappointing 2018-19 season, Devonshire replaced approximately half of his playing squad in the summer. Familiar names that stayed at York Road included; defenders Remi Clerima, Rene Steer and skipper Alan Massey, midfielder Ryan Upward and Forward Josh Kelly. Perhaps the key departee was 17 goal striker Adrian Clifton who moved to Bromley. Amongst the more notable incoming players were former Shot Bernard Mensah (on loan from Bristol Rovers but since moved to Gloucester City), ex Shots forward Shamir Fenelon (5 goals to date in all competitions) and midfielder Josh Smile (Chippenham). Devonshire’s best signing has undoubtedly been striker Danny Whitehall, who has been prolific, notching 14 league goals to date. Whitehall has been playing in America since leaving Southport in 2016 and has been a revelation for the Magpies this season.
Saturday’s referee is Sam Allison, who has taken the middle in 14 matches this season to date, showing 46 yellow cards and 2 red cards to date. He took charge of The Shots 2-1 home defeat against AFC Fylde on the opening day and also the 2-2 draw at Yeovil. He has not refereed any Maidenhead matches this season.
BBC Surrey Sports Rob Worrall and injured Shots striker Mo Bettamer will be covering the game live on Saturday. Tune in to the BBC Sport website (or the BBC Sport App) from 2:50pm for full match commentary. To interact with them, tweet @RobShot66.