MAIDENHEAD United have lost ground in the race for promotion from National South this season having taken just one point over Christmas.

The Magpies drew 0-0 away at Oxford City on Boxing Day and were then beaten 3-2 by Hemel Hempstead Town at York Road on Bank Holiday Monday.

The results mean Maidenhead are ninth in the table and five points away from the play-off positions heading into the New Year.

They put in a performance worthy of all three points at Oxford though they had to settle for only one against the fourth-placed side.

Both teams hit the crossbar and Oxford also had two chances cleared off the line.

Football fans were then treated to a tense goal-fest at York Road on Monday.

Hemel were three goals ahead and seemingly on the way to a win when they suddenly hit the panic button and were left hanging on at the end of an exciting clash.

Hemel are still unbeaten in the league away from home and an excellent display of counter-attacking football left The Magpies' defence in tatters by the half-way mark.

On eight minutes, Jamie Slabber sensed hesitation between defender Dean Inman and keeper Carl Pentney to nip in between the pair to cause panic and confusion.

Pentney dropped the ball and then collided with Inman to leave Slabber the simple task of squaring it to an oncoming Graeme Montgomery, who fired home.

Maidenhead then lost Inman to injury and it was no surprise that they went further behind after 34 minutes.

Kyle Connolly raced to the byline before crossing to an unmarked Ollie Hawkins who made no mistake, crashing his first-time shot into the back of the net and giving Pentney no chance.

The hosts soon made a tactical switch to try and change the way the match was progressing with Dave Tarpey replacing Ryan Upward, but it made little impact as Hemel scored again before the break.

Another excellent passing move saw Connolly cross for Slabber to tuck home from close range.

Maidenhead got a foothold in the game after the break and pulled a goal back as keeper Jamie Butler was only able to parry a free-kick out to the onrushing Sam Barratt, who swept the ball home.

Ben Herd then inexplicably headed a loose ball back towards his own goal which was bounced on by Barratt. He raced clear and crossed to the unmarked Tarpey who tapped home to the delight of the home supporters behind the goal.

As the final whistle approached, another Magpies attack caused panic in the Hemel defence and a goal-bound shot was handled in the area by Michael Richens, who received a red card in the process.

However, Butler guessed correctly and saved the spot-kick with the ball crashing into his face and away for a corner. It proved to be the last action in a thrilling encounter.

Maidenhead begin the New Year with the reverse fixture against Oxford City at York Road this Saturday (3pm).