Saturday 10 January // Ryman League Premier Division // Attendance: 510 // Report by Ruth Tunnell
At the fifth time of asking, the Stones finally registered a win thanks to goals from Alex Brown and Matt Bodkin. Plus with Margate’s game away at Leiston suffering a late postponement, the victory took Maidstone back to the top of the league.
With just one minute gone, Alex Brown, who once again revelled in the number ten role, cushioned a header into the path of Ben Greenhalgh. Greenhalgh’s advanced before striking a low shot which took a deflection and Tim Brown got down well to make sure the ball went past his right hand post.
Greenhalgh was involved again when the Stones strung together a fine move. Tom Mills played the ball to Brown who swept it out wide to Matt Bodkin and his cross came to Greenhalgh who saw his effort cleared off the line by John Curran. Canvey couldn’t quite get the ball clear and it came back to Bodkin whose cross just evaded debutant Nathan Elder.
The Stones kept on pushing and Brown won the ball in midfield. He played it forward to Greenhalgh who went outside before cutting back in and hitting a low shot which threatened to creep into the net before Tim Brown intervened with a diving save.
As the half wore on, Canvey started to come into the game more. On 20 minutes, Taylor Tombides arrowed a shot towards goal from just outside the area which took a deflection off James Rogers but the Gulls were denied by a fantastic flying save by Lee Worgan.
The game continued in an entertaining manner with Maidstone playing some decent football at times. Not long after the Canvey chance, Brown played the ball out to Bodkin whose cross was knocked down by Elder and Greenhalgh’s half volley went straight into Tim Brown’s arms.
It was then the home side’s turn to go close. An overhead kick from Curran came to the unmarked Josh Banton who was in plenty of space inside the box. Banton got a decent enough shot in on goal but he was denied by the impressive Steve Watt who came flying across the area to make an important block.
With 35 minutes gone, some good work with Brown saw him win the ball close to the touchline and he laid the ball on a plate for Greenhalgh. Unfortunately for the Stones though, Greenhalgh hesitated and the ball was whisked off his toes.
John Easterford then had to make a goal line clearance for the home side but the Gulls’ defence was finally breached two minutes before the break. Phil Starkey crossed from the right and it fell to Brown who showed good predatory instincts to riffle a fine finish past Brown.
Not long after the interval, Jack Parkinson gave the ball to Watt who was in an advanced position out on the right. He put in a cross which was met by Brown and it looked as though the Maidstone player was going to score again until Tim Brown just got it away from the line.
Then with 69 minutes played, Maidstone did double their lead. Greenhalgh’s work out on the left paid off and his cross looked to be heading in at the near post. Tim Brown managed to get his finger tips to the ball but he could only push it across goal to the waiting Bodkin who scored with a simple finish.
With a two goal lead the Stones should have been comfortable but Canvey suddenly started to look dangerous going forwards. With 75 minutes played, Tombides was allowed to get into a good position inside the box but he rushed his shot and thumped the ball wide.
Moments later Starkey accidentally chested the ball to Enoche Showumni who was close to goal. Worgan managed to get an important touch to deny Showumni but the ball came back to substitute Marlon Agyakwa who was well placed and he wastefully missed the target.
But matters soon got even nervier for Maidstone. Sonny Miles got caught as he tried to see the ball out and when the cross came in to the unmarked Jack Simmons he made no mistake as he side footed the ball past the helpless Worgan to give Canvey hope of rescuing a point as there was still nine minutes left.
After this though, the Stones managed to regroup and they then saw out the remaining moments without any issues to register their first win in the league since 13th December.
Canvey Island: Jack Simmons 81
Maidstone United: Alex Brown 43, Matt Bodkin 69
Canvey Island: Tim Brown, Josh Banton, Ashley Dumas, Kevin Dobinson (Harrison Tweddle 78, Mike King (Dan King 41), John Easterford, John Curran (Marlon Agyakwa 72), Steve Smith, Enoche Showumni, Taylor Tombides, Jack Simmons. Subs not used: Charlie Barlow, Joe Carter.
Maidstone United: Lee Worgan, Phil Starkey, Tom Mills, Steve Watt, Sonny Miles, James Rogers, Matt Bodkin (Bradley Jordan 80), Jack Parkinson, Nathan Elder, Alex Brown (Chris Piper 88) Ben Greenhalgh. Subs not used: Alex Akrofi, Frannie Collin, Will Godmon.