Sunday 5 October // Ryman League Premier Division // Attendance: 1801 // Report by Ruth Tunnell
The Stones made it seven straight wins at home in the league as they returned to the summit of the division with a comfortable win over high-flying Wingate and Finchley.
If it wasn’t for Bobby Smith, Maidstone might have embarrassed the visitors as the Blues’ keeper made numerous saves with his legs, particularly during the second half when Wingate appeared to lose their way as the Stones turned up the pressure.
It was the Blues though who threatened early on. With four minutes gone, Wingate broke quickly and the ball was played to Karl Oliyide who let fly from distance. His shot rebounded into the path of Carl McCluskey who showed good technique to keep his half volley down but it went well wide of the right hand post.
Shortly afterwards, Steve Watt pushed David Knight over on the edge of the box. It was Knight himself who picked himself up to take the free-kick which he curled over the bar.
Then with the game a third of the way through the first half, Matt Bodkin’s ball down the wing was put out for a throw by Kieron Street. Flisher hurled a long throw towards the near post and the Wingate defence switched off as Steve Watt stole in to direct a header into the net.
By now, Maidstone were playing some decent football with Ben Greenhalgh and Alex Flisher combining well on occasions. And it was Flisher who went close when the Blues were unable to clear their lines and Jack Parkinson picked out Flisher whose rising drive just cleared the bar at the Library End.
It was then Greenhalgh’s turn to be involved when he gained possession on the left. He made progress forward and entered the box but Smith was able to push his shot wide.
Bodkin then crossed for Flisher who saw his glancing header fly across the goal before an attack from Wingate broke down as Leon Fisher played the ball straight to Parkinson. Parkinson then put a delightful pass into the path of Flisher who raced into the box and forced Smith into a good save with his legs.
But Smith was to be beaten five minutes ahead of the break. Once again the Blues failed to defend a long throw from Flisher and this time it reached Parkinson who had the simple task of nodding the ball into an unguarded net.
Not long past the hour, Bodkin beat Goodman and entered the box but once again Smith made a save with his legs. The ball rebounded to Greenhalgh whose follow up effort was blocked by Mark Weathertsone but the Stones kept pushing and ultimately, Bodkin’s cross found the unmarked Flisher who headed the ball past Smith.
Substitute Jay May then found himself with only Smith to beat after he was put in on goal by fellow substitute Bradley Jordan but May was unable to get a shot away. Jordan was back on the ball again moments later when he nicked possession off Tommy Tejan-Sie only for Smith to make yet another save with his legs.
Seconds later, Parkinson stood the ball up for Watt to head and his effort grazed the outside of the right hand post and then Tejan-Sie gave the ball to Bodkin. The Maidstone winger found substitute Alex Brown who delayed his shot and his effort deflected wide.
Parkinson then had a header cleared away from the line by substitute Ronayne Marsh-Brown following a Greenhalgh corner before Smith made another decent save with his legs. This time, the Stones strung together a fine move involving May, Jordan and Greenhalgh and the ball ended up with Brown who was close to goal but his shot was hacked away by Smith.
It wasn’t until the final moments that Wingate looked like scoring. With the game three minutes into stoppage time, Fisher found Tejan-Sie who struck an effort that appeared to be heading towards the top corner before Lee Worgan plucked it out of the air. Then substitute Rob Laney crossed from the right but David Knight was only able to head the ball straight at Worgan.
Maidstone United: Steve Watt 15, Jack Parkinson 40, Alex Flisher 62
Wingate & Finchley: –
Maidstone United: Lee Worgan, Aaron Simpson, Tom Mills, Steve Watt, Sonny Miles, James Rogers (Bradley Jordan 69), Matt Bodkin, Jack Parkinson, Ben Greenhalgh, Frannie Collin (Alex Brown 72), Alex Flisher (Jay May 65). Subs not used: Phil Starkey, Will Godmon.
Wingate & Finchley: Bobby Smith, Mark Goodman (Ronayne Marsh-Brown 70), Kieron Street, Tommy Tejan-Sie, Marc Weatherstone, Ahmet Rifat, David Knight, Carl McCluskey (Ola Sogbanmu 74), Niko Muir, Leon Fisher, Karl Oliyide (Rob Laney). Subs not used: Paul Wright, Stuart Lake.