Saturday 28th April 2012 // Ryman League One // Attendance: 705 // Report by Ruth Tunnell
Maidstone United have brought their time in exile to an end as they said goodbye to Bourne Park with a defeat which ensured that they missed out on the Ryman One South play offs.
This game summed up The Stones’ season as in the first half they were excellent but after the interval they fell apart as Bognor came from two nil down to comfortably claim the three points.
The game was played on a soaking wet pitch with standing water in places and with a strong swirling wind the conditions were certainly far from idea. But it was Maidstone who adapted the quickest to the situation and they dominated the opening stages.
With six minutes played, Alex Flisher exchanged passes with Shaun Welford before Flisher advanced into the area and as he went to shoot, he had the ball whipped off his toes by an excellent challenge from the sliding Dan Beck.
It didn’t take long for The Stones to opening the scoring though as with just ten minutes gone, Sam Bewick whipped a free-kick into the danger zone inside the box and the Bognor defence was caught cold as Shaun Welford arrived to place the ball in the net.
With Jay Saunders working hard in midfield and regularly winning possession, Maidstone continued to dominate and Saunders brought a diving save from Craig Stoner in the Bognor goal before the visitors had their first opportunity of the game when Ben Andrews slipped the ball into Steve Harper whose shot just went wide.
Shortly afterwards, The Stones pieced together a fine move which once again saw Flisher and Welford combine and then Flisher passed to Karl Murray who picked out Bewick on the far side of the box who volleyed the ball towards the goal only for Stoner to intervene.
Saunders then put a good chance from a central position well wide and then moments later, Bewick gained possession down the right and his early shot from distance deflected behind for a corner.
Bognor were still struggling with the conditions as the game moved towards the break and on 39 minutes Maidstone moved the ball around well before Welford passed to Saunders whose low shot looked to be on target until it took a wicked deflection and travelled wide.
Then just before the break, The Stones moved further ahead. Saunders won the ball in midfield and released Bewick whose cross went to Flisher on the far side of the box. Flisher sent the ball back over the area and Stoner’s attempted clearance only went as far as Bewick who chipped a pass up to Welford who headed in his 31st goal of a prolific season.
Shortly after the interval Maidstone had an excellent chance to add a third goal when Welford’s header forward fell to Bewick who ran into the area but as he attempted to round Stoner he over hit the ball and it went wide.
Stoner was then called into action to push Flisher’s shot from distance round the post before Bognor pulled a goal back on 58 minutes when Maidstone could not deal with a cross from the right and Terry Dodd was on hand to bundle in the opportunity. Then five minutes later, The Stones’ lead was wiped out as the visitors levelled thanks to a fine curling strike from substitute Ben Johnson which only just evaded the outstretched hands of John Whitehouse.
By now the dynamic of the game had swung the other way with Bognor in command of the match and it was no surprise when they edged in front with 72 minutes gone. Maidstone’s defence were caught out as a long ball forwards picked out Dodd on the right hand side and The Rocks’ striker confidently went past the sliding Graeme Andrews before entering the box and sliding in a neat finish from a tight angle.
Then with just ten minutes remaining Bognor made sure of the win as they added a fourth goal when Whitehouse initially made a good save to deny Ben Andrews but from the resultant corner, the ball dropped to Steve Harper who picked his spot through a crowd of players and sent past the stranded Maidstone keeper.
So there was to be no playoff excitement for The Stones this season but in a couple of weeks time the 2011 / 2012 season will be a distant memory as all eyes turn to the opening of the Gallagher Stadium on 14th July and the long anticipated return home of Maidstone United to the county town of Kent.
Maidstone United: Shaun Welford 10, 44
Bognor Regis Town: Terry Dodd 58, 72, Ben Johnson 63, Steve Harper 80
Maidstone United: John Whitehouse, Tommy Osborne, Tom Mills, Sam Groombridge, Graeme Andrews, Jay Saunders (Alex Waugh 75), Ellis Green (Ben Davisson 65), Sam Bewick, Shaun Welford, Karl Murray, Alex Flisher (Baff Addae 67). Subs not used: Josh James, Steve Northwood.
Bognor Regis Town: Craig Stoner, Callum Sherrif (Darryl Woller 57), James Crane, Antonio Gonnella (Ben Johnson 40), Sonny Cobbs, Ben Andrews, Dan Beck, Kane Wills, Steve Harper, Terry Dodd, Harvey Whyte (Ashley Robinson 45). Subs not used: Jon Marzetti, Tom Boyle.