Tuesday 27 January // Ryman League Premier Division // Attendance: 331 // Report by Ruth Tunnell
After 70 minutes of this game, it looked as though Maidstone’s title credentials were about to take a knock.
The Stones found themselves without right back Shane Huke after he was injured in a collision with Alex Brown, they were trailing thanks to a strike from Joe Whight and they were down to ten men after Billy Bricknell had been sent off.
But then two goals inside two minutes from Jack Parkinson and Frannie Collin changed the outcome of this match and gave the Stones a significant boost as they continue their quest to be league champions at the end of the season.
Although Maidstone didn’t test Enfield’s keeper on Saturday, it took them just three minutes to force Alex Archer in the Bury goal into serious action. A long throw into the box by Jack was flicked on by Nathan Elder and it dropped to Matt Bodkin who drove the ball goalwards and Archer made the save with his legs.
Another long throw from Parkinson then ended with James Rogers volleying wide of the right hand post but it wasn’t until the later stages of the first half that there was anything else to note. With 31 minutes played, Billy Bricknell headed a corner from Matt Bodkin wide of the right hand post before Elder miskicked when well placed just seconds later.
The Stones were beginning to pressurise Bury by this point and soon, Bricknell did well to turn into space just inside the area. The Maidstone striker then got a shot away which was on target and once again, Archer made a decent save with his legs.
The home side’s only opportunity of the half came shortly after this. Connor Hall appeared to foul Steve Watt in midfield and surprisingly, no free-kick was forthcoming. With Watt felled, Hall was able to waltz forwards and he bent a curling effort from the edge of the box which cleared Lee Worgan’s right hand post.
Parkinson and Rogers were involved as Tom Mills was set up just outside the box and his low drive was heading into the bottom left hand corner of the net until Archer intervened with a fine save. Then with the game in first half stoppage time, Bodkin picked out Watt whose effort was blocked from close to the line and when it came back to the Maidstone captain, his hooked effort went over the bar.
The interval seemed to disrupt the Stones and their evening took a bad turn on 51 minutes. Brown and Huke accidentally tangled in midfield as both players went for the ball and the incident led to Huke eventually leaving the field on a stretcher. In the mean time, the ball had broken kindly to the home side and Joe Whight sprinted all the way to the Maidstone area before thumping an eye-catching finish past Worgan and into the left hand side of the net.
Maidstone’s evening then threatened to turn into a disaster as they were reduced to ten men four minutes later. Bricknell felt aggrieved that he hadn’t been awarded a penalty and his frustration led to him being sent off for foul and abusive language directed at the linesman.
But the Stones have shown what spirit they have in their squad this season on a number of occasions and this match against Bury was no different. After going down to ten men, Maidstone started to look the more likely of the two sides to score next and with an hour gone, a corner from Bodkin reached Watt and his shot was pushed away from goal by Archer.
Maidstone had another penalty appeal waived away when this time substitute Alex Akrofi appeared to be shoved over in the box by Milton Elenge but the Stones did finally draw level on 71 minutes. Watt played the ball out to the right to substitute Jamie Coyle and his cross was met by the leaping Akrofi.
Akrofi’s header looked to be creeping in until Archer just kept it out but the ball came to Brown on the touchline who did well to square it back into the six yard box and Jack Parkinson stabbed the ball in from close range.
Then just two minutes later, the turn around was complete. Brown was fouled just outside the box and Collin stepped up to curl a delightful free-kick into the top right hand corner of the net.
Maidstone saw out the remaining moments in a composed manner and they restricted the home side to just two attempts on target of note. With the game in stoppage time, Hall’s shot from distance went straight into Worgan’s arms and then Chris Benjamin stepped into space past Watt but his effort suffered the same fate as Benjamin’s and this meant that the Stones held on to consolidate their place at the top of the table.
Bury Town: Joe Whight 51
Maidstone United: Jack Parkinson 71, Frannie Collin 73
Bury Town: Alex Archer, Russell Short, Seb Dunbar, John Kennedy, Justin Miller, Milton Elenge, Joe Whight, Connor Hall, Joe Benjamin (Chris Benjamin 45), John Sands, Jordan Patrick (James Paterson 83). Subs not used: Tevan Allen, Phil Weavers, Liam Wales
Maidstone United: Lee Worgan, Shane Huke (Jamie Coyle 53), Tom Mills, Steve Watt, Sonny Miles, James Rogers (Alex Akrofi 58), Matt Bodkin, Jack Parkinson, Billy Bricknell, Nathan Elder (Frannie Collin 66), Alex Brown. Subs not used: Ben Greenhalgh, Will Godmon.