Tuesday 30 October 2012 // Ryman League Division One South // Attendance: 1,623 // Report by Samuel Bunn
After a blistering run of results that has seen them go unbeaten in the league for two months, Maidstone United finally rose to the summit of the Ryman League Division One South table after defeating Chipstead 3-0.
Goals from Alex Flisher and Ian Draycott (2) gave the Stones the win, and although they did not play to anywhere near their potential in this game, the result will have sent out an ominous message to the rest of the league with Maidstone still able to win so comfortably against a much-improved Chipstead team.
Maidstone came out the stronger and quickly asserted dominance in both territory and possession, and they quickly took the lead as Alex Flisher’s purple patch in front of goal continued. Graeme Andrews’ clipped pass from deep was flicked on by Shaun Welford, and Flisher was on hand to storm in from the left and hammer past Martin Grant in the away goal.
However the Stones did not build upon their good start, and Chipstead, playing a 4-2-3-1 formation, swiftly gained a foothold in the match, dominating the midfield zone and looking dangerous on the flanks.
Shaun Preddie registered his side’s first shot on target of the night with eleven minutes played, and former Dartford man Rob Howarth, a new signing from St Albans City, headed over from a corner.
Shaun Welford then saw his header well saved after some good work from Flisher and Sam Bewick, and Welford then saw a header deflected over and Tim Olorunda missed the target from the subsequent corner.
James McShane then called Mitten into action from 25 yards after cutting in from the left, and the Stones got off lightly when some cumbersome play out of the back from Nick Humphrey and Andrews nearly gave Howarth a chance in a dangerous position.
Seeing that his side were being outnumbered and outplayed in midfield, Jay Saunders moved Draycott into an attacking midfield position, therefore matching Chipstead’s three central midfield players.
The move worked and the Stones began to make some dents in the Chips’ dominance, and Bewick had a shot deflected wide by Draycott and had another blocked.
From the subsequent counter Mitten had to be alert to punch away, and Ashley Lodge perhaps should have done better as target man Howarth squared for him to hook wide.
As half time approached Flisher should have doubled United’s lead after being put through by Welford, however he could only put the ball wide of Grant’s post.
Nevertheless, despite a poor first half, the Stones did double their lead on the stroke of the break when Draycott flicked in Bewick’s cross; a goal reminiscent of Paul Booth’s strike at Needham Market a month ago.
The goal killed the contest and although Chipstead returned for the second half with the same appetite to keep the ball and move it quickly, they lacked the cutting edge that left the Stones sweating during the first half.
Some textbook Welford persistence led to a corner which was headed over by Humphrey, and the Stones centre half was then on hand at the other end to shepherd the ball back to Mitten as Connor French lingered.
A poor punch from Grant then saw Bewick cross to Flisher, who reversed to Welford, however the Chips stopped made up for his mistake with a magnificent save to deny the former Margate forward his first goal of the night.
Flisher then saw a shot blocked, however it was to be Ian Draycott who put the sheen on the win, moving into a vast amount of space and receiving Bewick’s through ball before lofting a delightful chip over Grant to send the sixteen hundred strong crowd home with a smile on their faces.
Maidstone United: Alex Flisher 6, Ian Draycott 45, 73
Maidstone United (4-4-2): Charlie Mitten; Tommy Osborne, Graeme Andrews, Nick Humphrey, Tom Mills; Sam Bewick (Ryan Cooper 82), Tim Olorunda (Danny Lye 78), Ben Davisson, Alex Flisher; Ian Draycott, Shaun Welford (Ade Olorunda 74).
Subs not used: Deren Ibrahim, Kaiyne Woolery.
Chipstead (4-2-3-1): Martin Grant; Josh Andrew, George Murphy, Dan Dean, Bruce Hogg; Shaun Preddie, Jason Goodchild; Michael Gordon (Kyle Green 80), James McShane, Ashley Lodge (Sean Bradley 46); Rob Howarth (Connor French 56).
Subs not used: Shane Graham, Tom Jelly.