Wednesday 24 October 2012 // Ryman Division One South // Attendance: 303 // Report by Ruth Tunnell
There appears to be no stopping the Stones at the moment. After winning five out of their last six league games, Maidstone United travelled to Eastbourne Town who, until this encounter, had shared top spot of the Ryman One South form table alongside their visitors.
However, Town’s task was made even harder after Sonny Cobbs saw red for bringing down Paul Booth early on in the game and the Maidstone marksman picked himself up to score twice in the match to take his tally to an impressive seventeen goals so far this season.
Having comfortably despatched Merstham at the weekend, manager Jay Saunders unsurprisingly named an unchanged starting line up as he looked to try and take the Stones to second position in the league and although this wasn’t Maidstone’s finest performance of the season, they ran out comfortable winners in the end.
It was the home side who had the first chance of the evening which was set up by Richard Greenfield who went charging down the right before taking his time to pull the ball back to Matt Crabb who sent a curling effort wide of the post.
But it didn’t take long for the Stones to open the scoring as with 12 minutes played, Booth latched onto a long ball over the top of the Eastbourne defence and ran towards goal. He was pursued by Cobbs who appeared to start pulling at Booth’s shirt just outside the area before bringing the Maidstone player down as he moved into the box. The referee, Mr Pike, had no hesitation in sending Cobbs off and Booth stepped up to convert the spot kick.
Shortly afterwards, the visitors went close to gifting Eastbourne a quick equaliser when Matt Crabb struck a free-kick which was on target and Charlie Mitten spilled the ball before reacting smartly to make sure he denied Town from the rebound.
By now, Eastbourne were beginning to gain the upper hand and on 24 minutes they went close again when Greenfield once more surged down the right wing and hit a shot from distance that appeared to be creeping into the top corner of the net until Mitten intervened with a vital save to tip the ball over the bar.
Then with the game of the later stages of the first half, Maidstone nearly added a second goal. Ian Draycott exchanged passes with Ben Davisson and ran into the box before creating room for a shot which the Eastbourne goalkeeper, Josh Pelling, turned behind for a corner.
The early stages of the second half were closely contested and the Stones defence had to be at their best to make a number of blocks to prevent Eastbourne getting shots on target. Meanwhile, just past the hour, substitute Alex Flisher took a quick throw to Shaun Welford and the ball came to Booth who squared it to the well placed Draycott who could only find fresh air as he swung his leg to try and connect with the pass.
As the game wore on, Maidstone started to look like a side with an extra player and with 70 minutes played, Pelling made a diving save to divert a low cross from Draycott away from goal but Maidstone were to have more luck five minutes later. This time, the Stones strung together another fine move which ended with Michael Phillips slipping the ball to Booth who calmly stepped across the box into space before placing the ball inside the right hand side of the net using the outside of his boot.
Then with six minutes remaining, the visitors added some gloss to the scoreline as Flisher picked out the unmarked Draycott and the Maidstone forward confidently sent the ball past the stranded Pelling to register his third goal of the season.
Eastbourne Town: -
Maidstone United: Paul Booth 13 (penalty), 75, Ian Draycott 84
Eastbourne Town: Josh Pelling, Josh Lansdale, Ross Sutton, Sonny Cobbs, Ben Austin, Richard Greenfield (Kenny Pouge 77), George Haywood (David O’Callaghan 62), Will Berry, Danny Curd, Matt Geard (Sam Crabb 71), Matt Crabb. Subs not used: Alex Howell, Greg Nessling.
Maidstone United: Charlie Mitten, Tommy Osborne, Tom Mills, Nicky Humphrey, Graeme Andrews, Tim Olorunda, Ben Davisson (Alex Flisher 56), Michael Phillips (Danny Lye 80), Shaun Welford, Paul Booth (Ade Olorunda 71), Ian Draycott. Subs not used: Sam Bewick, Deren Ibrahim.