Saturday 18th August 2012 // Ryman One South // Attendance: 1569 // Report by Ruth Tunnell
A quick look at the betting for the Ryman One South title prior to this game revealed that Maidstone United were the favourites to win the league. But if The Stones are to lift the championship trophy next April they will have to improve significantly as a defensive horror show saw them ship five goals which meant they got their Ryman One South campaign off to its worst possible start.
“It was embarrassing,” said Jay Saunders afterwards. “If you let in school boy goals that is what happens and I am ashamed of them. We started sloppily but then we got ourselves into the game and I was confident that we would go onto win the game even when they scored. But every time they broke we looked like we couldn’t defend.”
It was The Stones who started the more brightly of the two sides and their first chance on goal came when a nice touch from Paul Booth found Ben Davisson in a central position who then laid it into the path of Alex Flisher but Flisher’s low shot was gathered by Sheikh Ceesay in the Walton goal.
With seven minutes played, the crowd inside The Gallagher Stadium appealed loudly for a penalty when Ceesay appeared to catch Shaun Welford as they both battled for a bouncing ball inside the box and then moments later, Welford seemed to be tripped inside the area but once again no penalty was forthcoming.
Then with 18 minutes played, the visitors took the lead with their first opportunity. Josh Bonnett sent the ball into the box where it reached Graeme Purdy who saw his shot parried by Deren Ibrahim but the Maidstone keeper could do nothing to prevent Phil Williams from finding the net.
Shortly afterwards, Walton and Hersham threatened again when Adriano Moraes’ excellent ball picked out Purdy who had Nicky Humphrey in attendance as he ran towards Ibrahim’s goal and Purdy elected to shoot early and sent the ball over the bar.
There was then a lull in the action which was broken when the visitors broke quickly from a Maidstone corner and Jason Henry got in down the right but he saw his drive well parried by Ibrahim and then with 39 minutes played, The Stones equalised when Tom Mills was upended in the box and Booth lashed in the resultant penalty.
Just three minutes later, Maidstone edged in front when Sam Bewick’s cross from the right was touched on in the box by Michael Phillips and Booth popped up at the back post to head in his second goal of the game.
But if The Stones fans thought that they could relax now that their side were in front, they were soon to be disappointed as with an hour gone, Humphrey and Ibrahim got caught out at the back by a long ball forward from Ceesay and Williams reacted quickly to tuck the ball home.
With twenty minutes remaining, Ibrahim’s long clearance was flicked on by Welford into the path of Booth who took the ball into space inside the box and shot straight at Ceesay and then at the other end, substitute Kaiyne Woolery couldn’t stop Purdy firing the ball towards goal only for Ibrahim to divert it wide.
Shortly afterwards, Flisher drew a good save from Ceesay but with 75 minutes on the clock some terrible defending from The Stones resulted in Williams hitting the underside of the bar and when the ball came back out, Henry’s shot was stopped by Ibrahim only for Purdy to scramble the ball into the net.
Matters got even worse for Maidstone on 81 minutes when they failed to stop Henry getting in down the left and his deflected shot thumped into the net off the base of the right hand post before The Stones gave themselves a glimmer of hope with one minute remaining when a fine strike from Flisher found the net.
However, some further lax defending from The Stones put paid to any thoughts they had of salvaging a draw when they allowed Jerome Maledon to roam forwards and he found Henry who saw his shot saved and when the ball broke loose, Purdy was on hand to head in his second goal of the afternoon.
Then with the game deep in stoppage time, Phillips pulled another goal back for The Stones but shortly afterwards the whistle blew for full time to signal a disappointing start to Maidstone United’s league campaign.
Maidstone United: Paul Booth 39 (penalty), 42, Alex Flisher 83, Michael Phillips 90.
Walton and Hersham: Phil Williams 18, 60, Graeme Purdy 75, 90, Jason Henry 81.
Maidstone United: Deren Ibrahim, Tommy Osborne, (Tim Olorunda 83) Tom Mills, Nicky Humphrey, Graeme Andrews, Michael Phillips, Ben Davisson, Sam Bewick (Kaiyne Woolery 64), Shaun Welford (Ade Olorunda 83), Paul Booth, Alex Flisher. Subs not used: Ryan Cooper, Charlie Mitten.
Walton and Hersham: Sheikh Ceesay, Chris Wales, Adriano Moraes (Romayne Thomas 55), Jerome Maledon, Dan Dean, Aaron Nowacki, Josh Bonnett (Ashley Quashit 45), Victor Kiri (Harold Odametry 45), Graeme Purdy, Jason Henry, Phil Williams. Subs not used: Harry Smart, Kevin Wheeler.