Alan Devonshire’s men are ahead in a two-horse race with Ebbsfleet United at the National League South summit with just half a dozen games remaining. Having not competed in National Premier before, there’s a presumption that the Magpies could begin to flap under the pressure, but five wins on the bounce suggests they’re still in control. 17 clean sheets and just 25 conceded in 36 matches is an outstanding record, with United allowing just eight goals past them at home, and a mere seven scored against them in the first half. Whitehawk, nine matches back, were the last to net in the opening 45 against the Berkshire men. Whilst the defence is watertight, Dave Tarpey at the other end is terrorising opposition back fours. The 28-year-old has 40 in all competitions this term, 39 in the league which is a National League South record (and just shy of half the goals Maidenhead have plundered this campaign). They’ve scored the first goal 25 times in 36 matches, going on to win 22, and haven’t lost from a winning position since 6th February 2016, when they were beaten at Gosport.
That defeat took place two days after Gary Owers was re-appointed as Bath City boss. He’s overseen two defeats in his last two matches, which has almost mathematically relinquished hopes of a play-off place. Still, they have already matched last season’s points tally, and have netted more goals than that campaign. Going into Saturday’s match, City have picked up just one point out of 21 against the current top five, and have lost their last two matches against Maidenhead. A Shaquille Hunter missed penalty proved vital at York Road in November, in a match which saw the Romans end with 10 men after Frankie Artus was harshly dismissed. Artus was on target in this fixture last season, a 2-1 win back in August 2015. Bath have won eight out of eight against the Magpies at Twerton, scoring 16 and conceding three. Maidenhead have nevertheless been victorious at Twerton Park three times, maintaining a 100% record against Team Bath. One of those wins, in May 2007, saw them win promotion from the Southern League via the play-offs.