Saturday 11 August 2012 // Pre-Season Friendly // Attendance: 961 // Report by Sam Bunn
Maidstone United ended their pre-season campaign in the best possible fashion with a comfortable 3-1 win against Ryman Premier side Lewes.
Goals from Graeme Andrews, Paul Booth and Alex Flisher gave the Stones the victory, with Ashley Thomas’ consolation for Lewes certainly going down as the best goal so far at the Gallagher Stadium.
And although we should never read too much into pre-season matches, it is hard not to take great confidence from the Maidstone’s performances against higher opposition, with the team’s control of possession and determination to play out from the back and through the midfield a particular highlight.
However Maidstone’s ability to dominate the ball through the good work Michael Phillips and Ben Davisson has been clear for a while, and what will perhaps be most pleasing for Jay Saunders is that his side finally looked settled defensively and a lot more potent from the flanks.
Graeme Andrews and Nicky Humphrey already look to have struck up an excellent partnership at centre back, with Humphrey’s aggressive style perfectly complimenting Andrews’ ability to read the game and sweep up any oncoming danger. Meanwhile, on the wings the Stones finally seemed to click, with Alex Flisher perhaps the pick of the bunch for the home side, while on the other flank Sam Bewick and later Kaiyne Woolery were a consistent threat.
And it was indeed the aforementioned Bewick that got the assist for the Stones’ first goal, with the midfielder picking up Davisson’s short corner before laying a perfect cross for the unmarked Andrews to head past Keiron Thorpe.
Flisher then went close with two rasping long-range shots, and at the other end Andy Dallhouse could only flick on Steve Robinson’s strike into the arms of Deren Ibrahim.
Davisson then hooked wide after dancing past Robinson, and Jay Conroy had his blushes saved as his vastly over-hit backpass was headed off the line by the scrambling Thorpe.
An entertaining first half of football ended on a sour note, however, with an innocuous midfield tackle seeing Rooks player-manager Simon Wormull stretchered off with a suspected broken ankle.
The Stones came out of the traps for the second period much like the first, and they found themselves 2-0 up within seconds with Paul Booth latching onto Shaun Welford’s parried shot and cooly slotting past Thorpe.
The talented Nathan Crabb then cut in and shot over for the visitors, but the Stones were not perturbed and their confidence grew as they began to create chances through a mix slick passing and fluid movement, which bought occasional purrs of admiration from the 961 crowd. Bewick first shot wide after good work through the centre by Flisher, and Welford went close with a back post header before Davisson sliced wide after a good interchange between Mills and Flisher.
But just as the Stones looked like they were going to grab a goal to put the game beyond doubt, the Rooks were back in it thanks to a magnificent strike from trialist Ashley Thomas. Thomas picked the ball up 40 yards from goal and and drove forward, and without a particularly vigorous challenge from any Stones player he rifled the ball perfectly into the top corner of Ibrahim’s net.
However any fears of a Rooks fightback were allayed less than ten minutes later as the effervescent Flisher put the match beyond doubt, picking up on Kaiyne Woolery’s delightful through-ball and slipping the ball past the onrushing Thorpe.
Maidstone United Scorers: Graeme Andrews 3, Paul Booth 46, Alex Flisher 74
Lewes Scorer: Ashley Thomas 66
Maidstone United (4-4-2): Deren Ibrahim; Tommy Osborne (Ryan Cooper 65), Graeme Andrews, Nicky Humphrey, Tom Mills; Sam Bewick (Kaiyne Woolery 60), Michael Phillips, Ben Davisson, Alex Flisher; Shaun Welford, Paul Booth (Tim Olorunda 57) Subs not used: Charlie Mitten, Ade Olorunda, Steve Ward, Danny Lye
Lewes (4-3-3): Keiron Thorpe: Jay Conroy (Lee Cooper 55), Chris Breech (Leyton Schaafe 55), Steve Robinson, Lewis Hamilton; Jack Walder, Simon Wormull (Ashley Thomas 46), Karl Beckford; Steve Brinkhurst (Aaron Hopkinson 50), Andy Dallhouse (Ryan Fergunny 50), Nathan Crabb