Saturday 29th September 2012 // FA Trophy First Qualifying Round // Attendance: 475 // Report by Ruth Tunnell
September has been a superb time for The Stones. During the past four weeks, Maidstone United have won all of their six fixtures and they rounded off the month with a fantastic win away at Margate in the FA Trophy.
There is no doubt that The Stones went into this fixture as the underdogs. After all, the home side are top of the Ryman Premier League and prior to this game, were unbeaten this season. However, in the first half in particular, few would have thought that Maidstone were the lower league team and Margate had goalkeeper Craig Holloway to thank for keeping the scores level on a number of occasions.
It was the home side who had the best of the early chances and with just three minutes played, the ball came out to Richard Avery who was lurking on the edge of the area and the former Dartford player drove the ball goalwards only for Charlie Mitten to make a fine save and parry the ball.
As the half progressed, The Stones started to gain the upper hand and on 16 minutes, Tommy Osborne lifted the ball into the box and Shaun Welford managed to stretch and toe poke the ball only for Holloway to make a good save to divert it wide. Then from the resultant corner, Sam Bewick, who was back in the side in the place of Kaiyne Woolery, saw his half volley deflect over the bar.
Tim Olorunda then had a header saved before Holloway made another excellent stop on 21 minutes when he got down to his left to prevent Alex Flisher’s fierce drive from flying inside the post. It was then Welford’s turn to go close on a couple of occasions before Paul Booth had a great chance to put Maidstone ahead with 32 minutes on the clock but he couldn’t direct his shot on target when well placed.
The initial stages of the second half saw a complete change in the pattern of play as The Stones started to find it difficult to keep Margate at bay. With 52 minutes gone, Mitten saved Carl Rook’s weak effort and then shortly afterwards, Dean Pooley played the ball into substitute Ryan Dolby who found himself in space but his shot deflected wide.
The home side continued to push forwards and Mitten then had to make a superb stop to claw away a goalbound shot from former Maidstone player Mark Corneille but from the corner, The Stones conceded a scrappy goal as Dolby bundled the ball in at the back post.
Despite taking the lead, Margate didn’t grab the game by the scuff of the neck and this gave Maidstone renewed confidence. With 70 minutes gone, Flisher curled the ball into the box and it looked to be creeping into the top corner of the net until Holloway pushed it over the bar.
Then at the other end, Avery went close with a shot from the edge of the box before Tommy Murphy’s header looked to be on target at the back post until Nicky Humphrey intervened and managed to put the ball behind.
But with 14 minutes remaining, The Stones were gifted an equaliser. The move was started by a good turn and run from substitute Ade Olorunda and he slipped the ball down the right to Welford. Welford didn’t have any options in the box but he sensibly drove it into the area anyway, and almost in slow motion, Phil Starkey got into a muddle and turned the ball into his own net.
Maidstone then seemed to sense that they could win the game and with ten minutes remaining, Flisher curled the ball out to the right hand side of the box where it was brought down by Welford but he could not keep his shot down and he blazed the chance over the bar. Then shortly afterwards, Tim Olorunda pulled away at the far post to get on the end of a deep cross from Flisher but he was not able to direct his header on target.
However, there was time for The Stones to grab a winner and it arrived with seven minutes remaining. Osborne collected the ball inside his own half close to the half way line and he clipped a fantastic ball over the top of the home defence for Flisher to chase. Flisher managed to hold off the attentions of two Margate defenders and as he neared the goal, he smashed the ball past the stranded Holloway to register his fourth goal of the season and send the travelling supporters wild with delight.
Margate: Ryan Dolby 65
Maidstone United: Phil Starkey 76 (O.G.), Alex Flisher 83
Margate: Craig Holloway, Phil Starkey, Dean Pooley, Richard Avery, John Beales, Michael Alaile, Mark Corneille (Matt Bodkin 79), Dan Stubbs, Carl Rook, Tommy Whitnell (Ryan Dolby 54), Tommy Murphy. Subs not used: Laurence Ball, Alex Rhodes, Josh Mattless.
Maidstone United: Charlie Mitten, Ryan Cooper, Tommy Osborne, Nicky Humphrey, Tom Mills, Tim Olorunda, Michael Phillips (Ben Davisson 72), Sam Bewick, Shaun Welford, Paul Booth (Ade Olorunda 72), Alex Flisher. Subs not used: Danny Lye, Kaiyne Woolery, Ian Draycott.