United's lack of home victories continued this afternoon against Maidenhead as the home side began the new year as they had ended the last, with a 4-1 defeat.
With the trio still suspended and keeper Delroy Preddie nursing an injury picked up at Hampton, manager Garry Haylock made an enforced change in goal while juggling his outfielders slightly with Simon Martin replacing Charlie Mapes.
It was United who started the quickest and after just three minutes Ram Marwa
found Toby Little on the left flank and his low near post cross needed a smart interception from Mark Nisbet as Kieran Knight lurked ominously. Sadly this was a false dawn and just six minutes later the Magpies took the lead. John Hastings hooked the ball over his head into the path of the ever dangerous Manny Williams, the striker fired past Davies and the ball was going wide but Ashley Smith had continued his run from wing back and received a simple tap in.
United came back with gusto but a combination of solid keeping and poor finishing meant the equaliser did not come. Knight saw a shot from the edge of the area gathered at the second attempt by Chico Ramos and Simon Martin headed some three yards wide when well placed to receive a Marwa centre. Martin and Little then combined to create an opening for Knight but his first time effort was too high closely followed by a Staforde Palmer effort that Ramos dealt with comfortably.
With the half hour mark almost upon us, Davies palmed away a Williams shot before a Danny Allen-Page cross from the right saw a glancing Knight header go wide off the base of the upright with Ramos beaten. United still pressurised the Magpies defence, a Marwa corner was met powerfully by Liam Collins only for Nisbet to block on the line with Steve Perkins firing the rebound over from eight yards.
While an equaliser looked to be coming, nobody could account for what would happen next. A long punt upfield by the Magpies saw Davies race from goal to kick clear, sadly for the out of practice keeper he sliced the ball into the air which gave Williams the easiest of tasks to roll the ball into the vacant net.
With United heads down, stoppage time saw yet another defensive error that gifted the visitors a third goal. Another long ball saw Davies again come from goal, his control again let him down and the ball ran away to Smith. With the defender and keeper racing back to goal, the wing-back picked out Williams who calmly drew his man before presenting Hastings with a tap in to end the half.
If the half time team talk was supposed to rally the troops, it failed miserably as United fell back into their old ways by conceding yet another within 60 seconds of the restart. Smith was given space on the right to pick out Dwane Lee at the far post and he did the rest, guiding his header over Davies into the far corner.
With the game all but over we then had to endure probably the longest 45 minutes of the season, just wondering how many it would be, as it happens a late consolation reduced it to just a three goal defeat.
Substitute Chris Arthur went close with a low curling free-kick before Davies saved well from Hastings and shortly after from Lee. On 79 minutes the visitors were reduced to ten men when James Hamsher received a straight red card for a two footed lunge at Liam Collins but even with ten men it was the Magpies who were creating chances. Darti Brown sent Yashwa Romeo through but Davies was out quickly to block and minutes later Peter Collins let Romeo past him but Davies was again equal to his effort, pushing the ball around the post at full stretch.
The final minute of the game saw United net a consolation, Michael Barima received the ball on the right and fed it into the run of Martin who slid it confidently under the dive of Ramos, sadly too little too late.
Report by Kevin Watts. Photos by Ray Peploe.