Maidstone United celebrated Non-League Day in the best possible style as they smashed five goals past Dulwich Hamlet in front of nearly 2000 fans at the Gallagher Stadium.
Goals from Alex Flisher (2), Shaun Welford (2) and Tom Mills gave the Stones all three points in front of 1,989 spectators, a post-reformation record for the Stones in competitive games.
And although ‘just another league game’, considering the opposition, result and especially the attendance, the day must go down as one of the best since 1992, and some may even argue has only bettered by the opening game at the Gallagher Stadium against Brighton & Hove Albion in recent times.
That said, the scoreline would lead you to believe Hamlet were comprehensively outclassed throughout, however they in fact had the better of the first half in terms of territory, possession and chances. Unfortunately for the Champion Hill side, United had already inflicted two killer blows by the time they got a foothold in the game after ten minutes or so.
After surviving an early scare which saw Nyren Clunis square to Junior Kadi who missed the target, Alex Flisher got the Stones off to the perfect start after just four minutes. The Dulwich centre back pairing of Lewis Gonsalves and Tony Sinclair were all at sea, and Flisher moved inside to receive the ball and rounded James Tedder before squeezing the ball into the net.
Welford then doubled his side’s lead minutes later, pouncing on Ben Davisson’s deep pass which inexplicably evaded Gonsalves and Sinclair once again, and the former Dover man was calmness personified as he rolled the ball beyond the reach of Tedder.
Shell-shocked by the initial home onslaught, Hamlet finally emerged from the dressing room in spirit as well as body, and Ryan James should have at least tested Mitten when a poor Maidstone clearance fell to his feet inside the area.
The away side should have halved the deficit soon after – the enigmatic Ellis Green whipped a beautiful cross onto the head of Clunis, however the Hamlet youngster somehow failed to hit the target from six yards out. James then sliced a well-placed free kick wide, and defensive midfielder Peter Adeniyi was just about stopped in his tracks by the returning Graeme Andrews after a storming and well-timed run from deep.
Hamlet were now well on top, and the Stones seemed happy to sit and defend their two-goal lead, confident that their defence, which looked to have regained it’s balance following the return of Graeme Andrews, could keep those clad in pink and navy at bay. Nevertheless, the Stones rearguard was nearly breached once again when Green ghosted past Mills before crossing to Luke Hickie, however Hamlet’s number ten could not trouble Mitten in the home goal.
Green’s performance indeed proved to be something of a microcosm of his career at Maidstone; he began with a confidence and swagger, beating his full back more than once and putting some excellent crosses in, however as the game moved on he slowly drifted out of the game, becoming largely anonymous and ineffective during the second half.
Then with ten minutes of the first period remaining, Dulwich had a golden opportunity to half their deficit when Clunis was bought down by Andrews inside the penalty area. Champion Hill stalwart Kadi stepped up to take the penalty, however his kick was saved by Mitten, pouncing to his right to parry the ball away.
The incident proved to be the turning point of the match, with the Stones seeing out the rest of the half before going on the rampage early in the second half.
With less than two minutes of the second period played, Clunis shot straight at Mitten, and from the resulting attack Tom Mills, returning to his native left back after a seven game stint in central defence, overlapped on the left before precisely slotting beyond Tedder’s far post, sending the choc-a-bloc Gallagher Stadium into raptures.
Then just two minutes later, Mills’ partner in crime on the left, Alex Flisher, made it four after isolating right back Kalvin Morath-Gibbs and smashing the ball home. The goal capped an excellent performance from the United youth product, and Flisher will have no doubt been delighted to have put in such a performance after the disappointment of being sent off against East Thurrock a week ago.
Davisson then saw a free kick sail over before his team mates put the icing on the cake by scoring an excellent fifth goal. Kaiyne Woolery received the ball on the right, and after some sterling work he switched the ball out to Flisher whose cross was laid on a plate for Welford to head in his second goal of the afternoon.
Woolery himself then headed just wide from a Michael Phillips free kick, and Ian Draycott nearly capitalised on some ludicrous dilly-dallying on the ball from Tedder, however the game was to finish 5-0, sending the vast majority of the 1,989 crowd, who had quite literally queued round the block to get into the Gallagher Stadium, home very happy indeed.
Maidstone United: Alex Flisher 4, 49, Shaun Welford 9, 68, Tom Mills 47
Dulwich Hamlet: -
Maidstone United (4-4-2): Charlie Mitten; Tommy Osborne, Graeme Andrews, Nicky Humphrey, Tom Mills; Kaiyne Woolery, Ben Davisson (Ian Draycott 68), Tim Olorunda, Alex Flisher; Shaun Welford (Ade Olorunda 71), Paul Booth (Michael Phillips 55)
Subs not used: Deren Ibrahim, Ryan Cooper
Subs not used: Erhan Oztumer, Callum Martin, Dominic Western, Gavin Rose