21 year old Josh Kelly has crammed plenty into his short footballing career thus far. A goal-scoring protégé at Allied Counties level for Maidenhead United, Kelly graduated to the first team at York Road via a free-scoring season-long promotion-winning loan spell at Walton Casuals, with Alan Devonshire indicating his faith in the teenager by giving Kelly the number ten shirt at the start of the 2018/19 season.
Since then, Windsor-born Kelly – who played junior football in Berkshire for the likes of Windsor, Ascot United and Woodley Saints – has gone viral online more than once for his knack of scoring virtuoso goals, with many of his 14 senior goals in the Black and White (from 40 starts, having been named a further 44 times on the bench) being memorable. The 2019/20 season has come to a premature end but Kelly was happy to look back with us at his first two seasons as a National League footballer to pick out his favourite goals.
In third place “my first one, against Bromley at home”. The Magpies had made a slow start to the 2018/19 season but when big-budget Bromley were in town on 1st September 2018 it was a red-letter day for Kelly against the Ravens. “I remember Cliff (top scorer, Adrian Clifton who left Maidenhead the following summer to join Bromley) playing the ball into me on the edge of the box. I took a touch to face the goal and I could see three defenders flying over to block my shot so I dragged it back to open up the shot and smashed it into the top corner.” A precocious strike it was, leaving former Magpies centre-half Jake Goodman chasing shadows and announcing this teenage talent to the Vanarama National League.
Just three days later he was at it again. Play-off bound Eastleigh were in town the following Tuesday night. The Spitfires strong squad gave Maidenhead a tough game on the night and it took a two-goal salvo in a matter of minutes from Kelly to put the Magpies in the ascendancy on the stroke of half time. Maidenhead supporters had become accustomed to skilful finishing from the legendary Dave Tarpey but Kelly’s opening effort on this particular night was as good as anything the Reading-born marksman produced during his prolific period at York Road.
“This one was close to being my favourite. I made a run off the centre-back through the middle and Smudge (Christian Smith) played the perfect ball through straight in front of me to run on too. It was one of them moments when you know exactly what you’re gonna do before it happens. I rolled the ball past the keeper as he came sliding out and I could see the defender flying in to the block the open goal so I chopped inside and just left a tap in to finish.” Sounds so easy when explained, but it should be noted that it was former Arsenal ‘keeper Graham Stack who was initially done up like a kipper before the equally experienced former Sheffield Wednesday giant Reda Johnson was humiliatingly sent sliding towards the corner flag by the youngster.
The pic of the goals at least in Kelly’s eye was his overhead effort against free-spending Fylde on 29th October 2019. “My favourite goal for me was the bicycle-kick against Flyde. I’ve tried so many times to score one like it when I was younger so when it actually went in it was an unreal feeling. I remember Smiler (Josh Smile) crossing from the right and it bounced just before me so all I could do was control it with my chest. I knew there was defenders all around me so I couldn’t take a touch to control it. It bounced perfectly in front of me off my chest so I popped it up and just went for the bicycle and luckily it went in the top corner.” It was a picture-book goal one of those which, as a spectator, seems to happen in slow motion.
Three very different goals, each in their own way showing the potential of this young man. With football taking an enforced break in these uncertain times it is unclear as to whereabouts Kelly will be plying his trade next season. Wherever Kelly is playing, all Maidenhead fans – and Berkshire soccer supporters as a whole – will wish ‘one of their own’ well, with the expectation of seeing more dazzling goals pop up on social media sooner rather than later.