Salford City will have eyes set on returning to the top of the Vanarama National League when Maidenhead United visit The Peninsula Stadium at lunchtime on Saturday (KO 12:35).
BT Sport’s pick of the weekend sees us welcome The Magpies for the first time with the chance to reclaim top spot ahead of the 15:00 kick-offs.
An incredible run of six wins and a draw in March continued with a 2-0 win at Maidstone United last weekend to put us top as Leyton Orient could only draw with FC Halifax Town. However The Os went two points clear with their game in hand on Tuesday night by beating Eastleigh 3-2, having trailed twice.
It has been a relentless season so far and only seems set to continue in these final weeks. All Salford can do is focus on what they can control, on the pitch in our own games, and see where that leaves us.
Maidenhead’s season has been slightly different, and while they aren’t mathematically safe it would take an absolute miracle for them to drop. If they can secure safety by their own means it might make it that bit sweeter; a win will definitely do that, while a point will all-but guarantee safety and if Havant & Waterlooville fail to win the result won’t matter.
Maidenhead were promoted to The National League for the first time in 2017 after winning the National League South in 2016-17, and finished 12th in non-league’s top tier last season with 64 points. It turned out that was only nine points off the play-offs, and it was four clear of Leyton Orient, but this season Alan Devonshire’s side haven’t quite hit the same peaks.
While consolidation will have been Maidenhead’s main focus for this season, it didn’t start too well and after five games they were bottom with one point. Bank Holiday weekend wins got their season going and over the next few months they dipped in and out of the relegation zone, but a three-match winning run in February – which saw Devonshire win manager of the month – set The Magpies on the road to survival.
An FA Cup First Round tie against former winners Portsmouth ended in defeat, but in the grand scheme of things not having extra games may have worked in Maidenhead’s favour.
A few minds will have been eased around York Road with two wins in the last five against Havant and FC Halifax Town creating a bit of a gap to the bottom. They couldn’t make it three in a row though as they lost out 1-0 to Barnet last weekend. Goals have been in a relatively short supply this season; Maidenhead are the joint-fifth lowest scorers in the league and have failed to find the back of the net 17 times this season including three of the last five. Coincidentally they are all three of their defeats.
One to watch – Adrian Clifton
The Montserrat international is The Magpies’ leading scorer this term with 13 goals to his name, which is just over 30% of Maidenhead’s goals. This is his second spell at the club having played at York Road in the National League South before leaving for Havant in 2015, returning in 2017 and scoring eight in 37 last season.
Our first meeting back in September ended in a win, with two quick fire goals in the first half from Scott Wiseman and Adam Rooney setting the ball rolling before Devante Rodney came off the bench to wrap up the points in the dying stages.