Maidstone United 0 – 5 Brighton and Hove Albion
Saturday 14th July 2012 // Pre-Sesaon Friendly // Attendance: 2,226 // Report by Ruth Tunnell
Saturday 14th July will go down as an historic day in Maidstone United’s history as after a period of twenty four years, The Stones finally got to play a home fixture at a ground they own back in the county town of Kent.
Whilst the occasion will live long in the memory of the 2200 people who came to The Gallagher Stadium, the game itself was a typical pre-season friendly between two sides who are six divisions apart in the football pyramid.
Brighton and Hove Albion are amongst the early favourites to gain promotion from The Championship this season and they arrived to open Maidstone’s ground with a strong squad. Although recent loan signing Wayne Bridge didn’t make an appearance, the large crowd were treated to the sight of Thomas Kucszak as well as Kzenga Lua Lua.
Maidstone were not overawed by their opponents though and with just seconds of the game played, Ian Draycott burst down the left hand side and got an early shot away which flew past Casper Ankergren’s right hand post.
However, it didn’t take the visitors long to settle into their passing game on a playing surface that Brighton and Hove Albion manager Gus Poyet described as “magnificent” and Kazenga Lua-Lua certainly kept Maidstone’s right back Ryan Cooper busy during the early part of the first half.
With five minutes played, Lua-Lua dribbled past Cooper and sent the ball into the area where it was punched out by Maidstone keeper Deren Ibrahim as far as Indigo Caledron who blazed the ball over the bar from a good position.
Brighton continued to look the more threatening of the two sides as the rain came pouring down but on 16 minutes, The Stones went close themselves when Sam Bewick drove a low dangerous ball into the box where it was met by Shaun Welford who saw his shot diverted behind. Then from the resultant corner, the ball came out to Welford who was on the far side of the pitch and he swung in a good cross which reached Maidstone captain Graeme Andrews who headed over.
But the deadlock was finally broken on 26 minutes when Lua-Lua’s cross picked out Craig Mackail-Smith who joined The Seagulls for an initial £2.5 million transfer fee last summer and his header crashed off the underside of the bar and over the line.
Shortly afterwards, Lua-Lua carved out another opportunity but this time Craig Noone saw his shot blocked and with 36 minutes played, Ibrahim did well to push Gary Dicker’s low shot from the edge of the area behind for a corner.
As the game moved towards the interval, Maidstone had a couple of chances and the first of these came when Alex Flisher ran down the left and fired the ball towards the near post but the Brighton keeper Peter Brezovan made a comfortable save. Then on 42 minutes, Flisher delivered a fine corner which was met by Danny Lye who had made a run into the box but the Maidstone midfielder could not hit the target with his header.
Unfortunately for The Stones, they fell off the pace in the second half and with 50 minutes on the clock, substitute Tim Olorunda conceded possession which allowed Ashley Barnes to play in Will Hoskins who drilled the ball past the stranded Ibrahim.
Matters then got even worse for Maidstone as with just less than an hour played, the visitors scored again when this time, Brighton strung together a fine move which saw Torbjorn Agdestein pass to Bruno Sartor who squared the ball across the area and Ashley Barnes arrived to register his first goal of the afternoon.
By now, The Stones looked vulnerable every time The Seagulls attacked and with 61 minutes played, Bewick desperately tried to stop Adgestein bursting through in the area as a result, conceded a penalty that was confidently dispatched by Barnes.
Then with just over twenty minutes remaining, Barnes, who finished last season as Brighton’s leading scorer, completed his hat-trick with an impressive goal as he latched onto Hoskin’s forward pass and neatly lobbed Ibrahim who had been drawn off his line.
Fortunately for Maidstone, this was to be the last time that their defence was breached as Brighton took their foot off the gas in the remaining time and The Stones can now look forward to another big game on Tuesday night as they welcome a second league team, Dagenham and Redbridge, to The Gallagher Stadium.
Maidstone United: -
Brighton and Hove Albion: Craig Mackail-Smith 26, Will Hoskins 50, Ashley Barnes 58, 62 (pen), 68
Maidstone United: Deren Ibrahim, Ryan Cooper (Kaiyne Woolery 59), Tom Mills (Lewis Mingle 76), Nicky Humphrey (Jay Saunders 71), Graeme Andrews (Steve Ward 81), Danny Lye (Tim Olorunda 45), Ben Davisson (Alex Waugh 59), Sam Bewick, Shaun Welford (Paul Booth 45), Ian Draycott (Michael Phillips 45), Alex Flisher (Josh James 84). Sub not used: Charlie Mitten.
Brighton and Hove Albion: Casper Ankergren (Peter Brezovan 31 (Tomasz Kucszak 59)), Inigo Calderon (Bruno Sartor 45), Marcus Painter (Ben Sampayo 45), Adam El-Abd (Gordon Greer 45), Romain Vincelot (Lewis Dunk 45), Craig Noone (Will Buckley 45), Anton Rodgers (Liam Bridcutt 45), Gary Dicker (Ryan Harley 45), Kazenga Lua-Lua (Torbjorn Agdestein 45), Matt Sparrow (Ashley Barnes 45), Craig Mackail-Smith (Will Hoskins 45).