Saturday 4 August 2012 // Pre-Season Friendly // Attendance: 1033 // Report by Ruth Tunnell
With just two weeks to go before the Ryman One South season gets underway, Maidstone United continue to look strong against higher league opposition.
This time, AFC Hornchurch, who were promoted to the Blue Square Bet South Division at the end of last season, were the visitors to The Gallagher Stadium and in front of another large crowd, The Stones were a good match for their opponents.
“I think we did well for the first fifteen minutes and then we scored and went off the boil a little bit,” said Jay Saunders. “I do not know what the referee has seen for the penalty, I could go off on one about him but I won’t. I was pleased overall though and I thought that Nicky Humphrey was outstanding at the back.”
Both sides threatened going forwards inside the opening minutes with Alex Bentley seeing a shot from just outside the area flash wide of the left hand post for the visitors and then Sam Bewick’s surging run drew Joe Woolley from his goal. Although Bewick’s initial effort was blocked it span into space inside the area and Bewick reacted quickly to get another shot away but it was cleared away from the six yard box.
Then with just eleven minutes played, The Stones took the lead thanks to a stunning goal from Ben Davisson. The Maidstone midfielder drove down the right hand side and cut into the box. Just as everyone inside The Gallagher Stadium was anticipating a pass from Davisson he unleashed a left footed drive which flew into the net.
Shortly afterwards, Paul Booth made Woolley save at his near post and the game then entered a lull before the visitors equalised with 30 minutes on the clock when The Stones failed to react to a cross from the right and Martin Tuohy was allowed the time to side foot the ball in off the left hand post.
Having looked comfortable up until now, Maidstone suddenly found themselves trailing five minutes later when the referee, Mr Welsh, felt that Ryan Cooper had dragged Aaron Gayle down inside the area and Tuohy, who bagged 28 goals last season, stepped up to confidently convert the penalty.
The Stones were not behind for long though as four minutes before the break they equalised with another excellent goal. The move started with Steve Ward lifting a fine ball down the left hand side to Tom Mills. An excellent first touch from Mills took him into the area and he calmly squared the ball to Booth who had the simple task of knocking the ball into the unguarded net.
Just before half time, Booth went close again after Humphrey had rolled the ball down the right to Bewick who fired in a low cross and Booth made a diagonal run across the box and made contact with the ball only to see it fly across the six yard box and go wide of the left hand post.
Unfortunately for the spectators at The Gallagher Stadium the game was killed off after 54 minutes when both Bewick and Frank Curley saw red for a clash close to the touchline in front of the main stand. Bewick, who has enjoyed a good pre-season to date, will regret his altercation with Curley as he will now miss the first three games when the league kicks off again on 18th August.
There after there was little to note apart from in the last ten minutes when Hornchurch looked the more likely side to grab a winner but the closest they came was when Tuohy managed to poke the ball past Ibrahim but Tom Mills snuffed out the danger and then on 85 minutes Bentley’s half volley just cleared the bar.
Maidstone United: Ben Davisson 11, Paul Booth 41
AFC Hornchurch: Martin Tuohy 30, 35 (pen)
Maidstone United: Deren Ibrahim, Ryan Cooper (Tommy Osborne 51), Tom Mills, Nicky Humphrey, Steve Ward (Lewis Mingle 67), Tim Olorunda, Ben Davisson, Sam Bewick, Kaiyne Woolery (Danny Lye 59), Paul Booth (Alfie Pavey 78), Alex Flisher (Tamer Tuna 45). Subs not used: Jay Saunders, Scott Chalmers-Stevens.
AFC Hornchurch: Joe Woolley, Alex Bentley, Elliot Styles (Simon Glover 52), Reiss Noel, Paul Goodacre, Andy Tomlinson (Joey May 78), Sam Cutler, Frank Curley, Martin Tuohy (Aaron Gayle 85), Aaron Gayle (Lewis Smith 61), Jonathan Hunt (Fola Orilonishe 72).