Saturday 20 October 2012 // Ryman Division One South // Attendance: 289 // Report by Ruth Tunnell
Despite finishing the game with nine men, Maidstone United continued their impressive run of form making it ten wins out of the last twelve matches as they leapfrogged their opponents Merstham, to move into a play off position in the Ryman One South table.
The Stones were rewarded for a hard working performance and they looked particularly strong in the first half. It took just 11 minutes for the visitors to open the scoring when the ball came out to Tom Mills on the edge of the area and he saw his attempted lob take a deflection and drop in over the line past the stranded David Wilkinson in the Merstham goal.
Just moments later, The Stones went close again when there was a goalmouth scramble and this time Tim Olorunda saw a shot cleared off the line but before long, the visitors had doubled their lead. This time the ball pinged around in the Merstham box before popping out to Paul Booth. Booth’s original effort came back off the post but the Maidstone striker displayed all of his predatory instincts to react quickly and side foot the ball over the line.
The Stones continued to push Merstham back at every opportunity and with 22 minutes gone, they had a good chance to further their lead when a deep ball came into the box from Tommy Osborne and Booth showed great movement to connect with the free-kick but he couldn’t divert the ball on target.
Maidstone soon added a third though as with 34 minutes played, Booth’s free-kick cannoned off the wall and came out to Ben Davisson who slipped the ball into the box to Shaun Welford and the striker took the invitation to fire the ball into the net via a deflection off Adam Morearty.
Shortly before half time, Osborne had a shot on target which was turned away from goal and then on 45 minutes, Davisson delivered a free-kick into the box which Welford headed downwards but Wilkinson was able to prevent the ball from crossing the line.
The second half saw Merstham emerge from the dressing room determined to get back into the game and on 52 minutes, Osborne made an important block to keep out Jack Macleod’s shot before the home side were boosted by the fact that Tim Olorunda was sent off shortly afterwards for a second bookable offence.
With an hour played, Mitten made a fine save to tip over Luke I’Anson’s goal bound header and the Maidstone keeper was called into action again minutes later when this time he had to punch a free-kick from Fabio Saravia away from goal.
Despite having the man advantage, Merstham couldn’t put The Stones under any concerted pressure and with 75 minutes played, it was the visitors who went close to scoring again when a neat move ended with the impressive Michael Phillips lashing the ball towards goal and his effort was deflected over the bar by Morearty.
Shortly afterwards, Ade Olorunda went on a run which took him from just inside the Merstham half and all the way into the box but as he neared the goal, he slipped as he shot and the ball flew away from the target.
Then with six minutes remaining, Mitten was dismissed after he brought down Mark Nwokeji inside the area and having used all three substitutes, The Stones had to put Ian Draycott in goal. Draycott could do nothing to prevent Saravia from converting the resultant penalty but in the final remaining nervy minutes for The Stones, Draycott looked an assured goalkeeper as he kept Merstham at bay to ensure that Maidstone won for the third game in a row.
Merstham: Fabio Saravia 86 (pen).
Maidstone United: Tom Mills 11, Paul Booth 18, Shaun Welford 34.
Merstham: David Wilkinson, Rob Carter, Peter Wedgeworth (Troy Williams 71), Dean Gunner, Tutu Henriques, Adam Morearty, Jack Macleod, Luke I’Anson (Sam Tucknott 64), Mark Nwokeji, Fabio Saravia, Liam Wright. Subs not used: Justin Hemmings, Adam Bellanaine, Elliot Jones,
Maidstone United: Charlie Mitten, Tommy Osborne, Tom Mills, Nicky Humphrey, Graeme Andrews, Tim Olorunda, Ben Davisson, Michael Phillips (Sam Bewick 79), Shaun Welford (Ade Olorunda 68), Paul Booth (Danny Lye 60), Ian Draycott. Subs not used: Kaiyne Woolery, Deren Ibrahim.