Magpies swoop to inflict City’s first defeat

Maidenhead United 2 (Fagan 50, A Smith 75) St Albans City 1 (Peters 89)

ST ALBANS City’s unbeaten start to the season came to a juddering halt at Maidenhead on Bank Holiday Monday as second half goals from Andrew Fagan and Ashley Smith condemned Steve Castle’s side to defeat.

Manager Castle wasn’t prepared to pull punches afterwards and hinted that changes will be made.

It is in the final third that City need an injection of life and it took the introduction of 38-year-old Mark Peters, a centre-half by trade, up front to give City a presence.

That shouldn’t take away from debutant Chris Benjamin, a weekend arrival on work experience from Leyton Orient, who looked lively throughout and had a good appeal for a penalty ignored by referee Brett Huxtable late in the second half.

The first half was a real non-event with both sides cancelling each other out and no real opportunities of note.

Attacking left-back Jamal Fyfield did well and cut the ball back for Alex Wall but he had a Carlos Tevez moment and fired over the bar and out of the stadium.

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Ashley Smith, a thorn in City’s side throughout, then came to the fore with two testing crosses, the first which saw Dave Deeney hack off the line from Bradley Quamina and the second which Fagan headed straight at Bastock.

Benjamin and Effiong linked up well in the first half and the pair nearly engineered an opening only to be denied by Williams. Benjamin did well to hold the ball up on halfway before rolling his man and sliding the ball through to Effiong. The 19-year-old showed good strength to outmuscle Mark Nisbet but Williams raced off his line to smother the ball at Effiong’s feet.

Both side’s made changes at the interval with Lee Barney replacing the injured Alex Wall for the hosts and Drew Roberts taking Hassan Sulaiman’s place on the right for City.

The second half was just five minutes old when Maidenhead opened the scoring. Kierion St Aimie, a former City player, skipped past Robbie Martin only to be hauled down by the City man and from the free kick Fagan took advantage of slack marking to slam the loose ball past Bastock from close range.

It appeared that the home side had doubled their lead five minutes later as Barney drove the ball past Bastock from the edge of the area, but as both sides returned to halfway for the restart, referee Huxtable consulted his linesman and chalked off the goal. It is believed the goal was disallowed because there was a player in front of Bastock in an offside position but there appeared little complaints from City when the goal went in.

It mattered little to the Magpies though as they doubled their lead in the 75th minute. An impressive series of passes between St Aimie and Fyfield saw Maidenhead waltz through the City defence and Smith had the simple task of rolling the ball into the net from Fyfield’s low centre.

Kieran Knight had a great opportunity to net a third for the home side when City failed to deal with a corner but the Magpies’ striker was foiled by a good one handed stop from Bastock.

The most disappointing thing for the travelling City fans was that the team burst into life in the final few minutes and showed signs of unsettling the home defence.

Benjamin burst through on goal only to have his shirt yanked by last man Fagan but referee Huxtable failed to penalise the infringement.

City did pull a goal back in the 89th minute when Peters rose highest at the far post to head home Robbie Martin’s cross.

In a frantic final few minutes, Robbie Martin curled a free kick over the bar and Benjamin saw a snap shot well held by Williams.

A City corner with 90 seconds remaining saw Bastock join the attack but the corner was long and although Roberts retrieved the ball and crossed it back in Benjamin headed over the bar with the final touch of the game.

Maidenhead United: Williams; Bradshaw, Nisbet, Fagan, Fyfield; Wall (Barney 46), Nicholls, Quamina, Smith; Knight, St Aimie.

Subs not used: Brown, Munday, Powell, Carter.

St Albans City: Bastock; Deeney, Frater, Everitt, Smith; Sulaiman (Roberts 46), A Martin (Magwood 69), Fisher, R Martin; Effiong (Peters 67), Benjamin.

Subs not used: Simpson, Dedman.

Referee: Brett Huxtable (Devon)

Att: 307.