Tuesday 25 November // Robert Dyas League Cup Round Two // Attendance: 417 // Report by Paul Parkinson
Maidstone United progressed into the third round of the League Cup, and a tie with Tonbridge Angels, after a six-goal demolition of Herne Bay.
The real difference in the sides was the quality of the finishing from the Maidstone players when their chances presented themselves. A brace from Mark Lovell and goals from Alex Akrofi, Ben Greenhalgh and Alfie Kitt saw the League Cup holders into a comfortable 5-0 lead at the interval, and Richard Davies wrapped up the scoring.
Within 40 seconds of the kick off Alex Akrofi put the ball in the net, but the striker had started his run too early and was denied by the assistant’s flag. Akrofi’s pace was too much for the Herne Bay defence as he found Aaron Simpson racing down the right wing. Simpson’s cross was met by Bradley Jordan’s well timed run, but his header was glanced past the left post.
On six minutes, a flowing move from left to right across the park released Charley Robertson on the right wing. Robertson beat Gary Sayer to the deadball line and his deep cross saw Mark Lovell denied by a Nathan Eastwood header from virtually under his own bar.
It wasn’t all one-way traffic during the half, as Herne Bay showed they could counterattack. In the ninth minute, Steve Ita beat a sliding challenge from Richard Davies to drive into the area, but with Phil Starkey for company, Ita could only find the side netting.
Maidstone broke the deadlock on 14, as Lovell scored his 2nd goal for the club. A sweeping crossfield ball from Alfie Kitt was headed into the path of Robertson on the right edge of the area. Robertson drilled a low cross to the near post, where Lovell executed a cute backheel flick to deceive Ben Kitcherside.
Ita tested Will Godmon with a 35-yard drive that the keeper did well to handle with the rain lashing down, but from the clearance, the home side doubled their lead on 18. A composed build-up on the right corner of the area between Robertson, Simpson and Jordan saw Jordan float a cross to the back post, where Akrofi climbed above Connor Partridge to head back into the net.
Akrofi was too strong on the edge of the area for Partridge and drew a good save from Kitcherside low to his left as Maidstone continued to pressurise the visitors high up the pitch. A good challenge by Robertson in the middle of the field led to number three in the 26th minute.
The midfielder had two runners available and chose Lovell to his right, who thundered his shot in off the angle between post and crossbar to give Kitcherside no chance.
On 28, Ben Brown held off Alex Brown’s challenge on the edge of the Maidstone area, and laid a pass into the path of Ita. The Herne Bay striker couldn’t show the same composure as his opposite number, as he sliced the ball horribly wide.
Five minutes later, Herne Bay again broke dangerously after Dan Walder won the ball on halfway. He played in Ben Brown, who ran at the Maidstone defence, before hitting a 25-yard shot that had Godmon scrambling across goal; but the keeper was able to watch the ball roll wide.
Maidstone’s fourth arrived on 34 with Ben Greenhalgh taking his time to place a shot in the top corner. Simpson and Akrofi forced a poor clearance from Walder, which fell to Greenhalgh on the edge of the box. No Herne Bay defender was able to get out to challenge, leaving Greenhalgh time to measure a curling shot into the top left corner.
Four became five before the break, with a moment that Alfie Kitt will remember. Bradley Jordan’s whipped corner from the left wing found Kitt running in unchallenged and the Academy defender powered his header beyond Kitcherside for his first senior goal.
The second half could never have been expected to live up to the pace of the first, and Herne Bay had the first chance through Danny Williams. With time and space on the edge of the area, the striker attempted an audacious chip over Godmon, who took a couple of steps back to catch above his head.
Sam Hasler was looking Herne Bay’s most likely outlet and his low cross found Ben Brown in the box, but the Bay midfielder scuffed a shot straight at Starkey, who had time to clear.
Maidstone came close to a sixth midway through the half, as Aaron Simpson’s run allowed Akrofi to slip the ball in behind Partridge. Jordan beat Kitcherside to the ball and rounded the keeper, but couldn’t sort his feet out in time and could only hit the side netting from a narrow angle.
The sixth eventually arrived in the 77th minute. Herne Bay’s Gary Sayer picked up the only caution of the night for a scything challenge on Harris Rodgers. From the resulting freekick, Robertson’s pin-point delivery found the head of Richard Davies, who glanced his header into the right hand corner.
In the 82nd minute, Hasler stung the palms of Godmon, a virtual spectator in the second half, and then Charlie Munnery drove a shot just past the left upright, after good work from Jordan won the ball from Elliott Curtis on the left touchline.
Maidstone United: Mark Lovell 14, 26, Alex Akrofi 18, Ben Greenhalgh 34, Alfie Kitt 44, Richard Davies 79.
Herne Bay: –
Maidstone United: Will Godmon, Aaron Simpson, Phil Starkey, Richard Davies, Alfie Kitt, Alex Brown, Charley Robertson, Bradley Jordan, Alex Akrofi, Mark Lovell (Harris Rodgers 72), Ben Greenhalgh (Charlie Munnery 75). Subs not used: Aidan Hayes, Nicky Southall, Tyler McCarthy.
Herne Bay: Ben Kitcherside, Nathan Eastwood, Gary Sayer, Harry Brown, Connor Partridge, James Brown, Dan Walder (Elliott Curtis 74), Ben Brown, Steve Ita (Jordan Casey 56), Danny Williams (Kane Butler 56), Sam Hasler. Subs not used: Daniel Johnson, Michael Turner.