Tuesday 31 July 2012 // Pre-Season Friendly // Attendance: 1136 // Report by Ruth Tunnell
A solitary strike from Paul Booth was enough to give Maidstone United their second draw in a row as they held Blue Square Bet Premier Division Ebbsfleet United in front of another large crowd at the Gallagher Stadium.
This was a good performance from The Stones, once they had weathered the opening 25 minutes, and they did well to contain the visitors who had sent a mixture of first team and trialist players in their match day squad.
The Fleet started strongly and with five minutes played, Nicky Humphrey had to be alert to get across the box and divert Adam William’s shot behind for a corner.
But Ebbsfleet were not to be denied for long, however, as with seven minutes on the clock, Williams knocked the ball over Tommy Osborne to Ben Greenhalgh who hit a sublime shot into the far right hand side of the net from twenty yards out.
Going behind jolted Maidstone into life and they nearly equalised quickly when Alex Flisher got in down the left and fired the ball goalwards only for Tom McNeill to tip it over the bar and then on 14 minutes, Shaun Welford headed but his goal disallowed for a foul inside the box.
The game continued at a good tempo and Deren Ibrahim had to punch a free-kick from Greenhalgh away from goal and then at the other end, The Stones had a good chance to draw level when Michael Phillips found Paul Booth in space who only had McNeil to beat but he couldn’t capitalise on the opportunity.
Ebbsfleet then had three chances to score inside a three minute spell of pressure on the Maidstone goal. The first opportunity arose when a mistake from Tim Olorunda allowed Williams to feed Enver-Marum but he wastefully dragged the ball wide of the left hand post. Then Williams was involved again when he was just off target with a glancing header from Lanre Azeez’s cross before Maidstone had Ibrahim to thank for denying Enver-Williams with a diving save.
Having survived these attempts on goal, The Stones started to enjoy more possession and with 29 minutes played, they equalised when Sam Bewick drove over a corner from the left which was flicked on by Humphrey and Booth arrived to stab the ball in at the far post.
Both sides then had chances from distance with Booth and Bewick going close for Maidstone and Enver-Williams just off target for Ebbsfleet. Then with half time imminent, Greenhalgh picked out Enver-Williams with a neat free-kick and the Ebbsfleet striker drew a fine save from Ibrahim before the Maidstone keeper gathered the rebound as the Enver-Marum threatened to pounce.
The second half was inevitably more disrupted as both sides made substitutions but with 51 minutes played, Craig Stone ran into space down the left hand side and thumped a fierce shot wide and shortly afterwards, Ibrahim was once again called into action as this time he got down to his right to deny Williams.
The Stones themselves then threatened when Flisher drew a save from substitute goalkeeper Lucas Menz and then with 74 minutes played, Osborne conceded possession and Tom Phipp saw his snap shot well saved by substitute Scott Chalmers- Stevens in the Maidstone goal.
Chalmers-Stevens then made another fine save to deny Phipp with nine minutes remaining but with the game in stoppage time, it was The Stones who had the best opportunity to snatch the win when Welford diverted the ball into the path of substitute Baff Addae who drew Menz from his goal and with the net unguarded, Addae tried to place the ball past Menz but it rolled agonisingly wide of the left hand post.
Maidstone United: Paul Booth 29
Ebbsfleet United: Ben Greenhalgh 7
Maidstone United: Deren Ibrahim (Scott Chambers-Stevens 66), Tommy Osborne, Tom Mills, Nicky Humphrey (Lewis Mingle 56), Tim Olorunda, Michael Phillips (Ade Olorunda 70), Ben Davisson, Sam Bewick, Shaun Welford, Paul Booth (Baff Addae 62), Alex Flisher (Kaiyne Woolery 76). Sub not used: Steve Ward.
Ebbsfleet United First Half: Tom McNeill, Jay Faulkes, Ryan Blake, Ben Greenhalgh, Phil Walsh, Craig Stone, Lanre Azeez, Leon Wilson, Adam Williams, Liam Enver-Marum, Tom Phipp. Subs: Joe Howe, Patrick Ada, Liam Bellamy, Nathan Elder, Sam Akinde, Neil Barrett, Lucas Menz.