MAIDENHEAD United have made a losing start to the New Year after a 3-2 defeat away at Margate in the National South on Saturday.
Margate have maintained their unbeaten home record under manager Nikki Bull with victory in a pulsating game at Hartsdown Park.
The home team started brightly and felt aggrieved they did not get a penalty inside 10 minutes. Lewis Taylor surged into the area and was tripped, but stayed on his feet and shot inches wide, with no foul given.
Sean Shields bagged his first goal for Margate when striking a low free-kick past the wall and to the left of Maidenhead keeper, Carl Pentney.
As The Magpies started to grow into the match, Matt Johnson stopped them in their tracks with a skimming shot from range that found the net via the post - also his first goal for Margate.
Maidenhead made three changes at half-time and it was one of those, Sam Barratt, who reduced the arrears moments after coming on by acrobatically turning home from close range.
Two minutes later he had levelled things, curling home straight from a corner from the right to stun Margate.
The away side were dealt a blow when captain Alan Massey received his marching orders with a second yellow card, but that did not stop his side from attacking the Margate goal.
Harry Pritchard saw a long range shot tipped onto the crossbar by keeper and man-of-the-match Chris Lewington.
Christian Jolley made the most of his saves, again with his first for Margate, as his shot from the edge of the box looped over Pentney and in off the far post to seal another win for Margate.
However, Maidenhead were inches away from a share of the points in injury time when Barratt rattled the angle of post and crossbar with a free-kick from range, but his side were to leave empty handed.
Defeat sees The Magpies drop one place to 10th in the table, now five points behind the play-off positions. They return to league action on January 19 with a visit to York Road from sixth-placed Dartford.
This Saturday (3pm), Maidenhead turn their attention to the FA Trophy and a second round tie away at National Premier high-flyers, Woking.
The two sides have already clashed this season with Maidenhead winning an FA Cup fourth qualifying round match 3-0 at York Road back in October.