Tuesday 6 January // Ryman League Premier Division // Attendance: 297 // Report by Ruth Tunnell
The Stones keep racking up the 1-1 draws as for the fourth game in a row, they were held to the same score line after once again taking the lead in the match.
At least this time the opposition equalised with plenty of time left. And if this draw had not been on the back of three others, Maidstone would probably have been even more pleased with a point against one of the league’s in form teams who look likely to be in the mix for a play off place at the end of the season.
The Stones could have edged in front with just two minutes gone. Matt Bodkin played the ball down the line to Alex Brown who drove forwards before picking out Ben Greenhalgh with a good cross. Greenhalgh delayed his shot and when he got it away, he hit it straight at the East Thurrock keeper David Hughes.
Then with 11 minutes gone, the home side struck the cross bar. A corner out on the right was taken short to Tom Stephen who was lurking close to the edge of the area and he hit a fine effort which smashed off Lee Worgan’s cross bar.
The game continued to flow from end to end and Bodkin put another cross into the box which Paul Goodacre did well to get to with Alex Akrofi waiting to pounce. Goodacre could only clear the ball as far as Jamie Coyle though who whipped in another delivery and this time, Greenhalgh headed wide of the far post.
However, Greenhalgh was to have more luck on 17 minutes. Jack Parkinson flicked the ball onto Bodkin who went on another good run before sending over a cross which caught Hughes in two minds. The East Thurrock keeper was drawn from his line and could only tip the ball as far as Greenhalgh who nodded it back past Hughes.
Shortly afterwards, there was a warning for Maidstone that the home side were not going to cave in easily. Kye Ruel turned past Sonny Miles into space and from a good position he dragged his shot wide of the left hand post.
Greenhalgh then went on a super run which saw him advance from inside his own half to East Thurrock’s box but his eventual shot was tame and was gathered by Hughes. And it was soon Akrofi’s turn to threaten as he picked up possession just outside the box but he drilled his effort wide of the left hand post.
The second half was still in its early stages when James Rogers slid the ball down the line for Akrofi. Akrofi did well to get to the by line and showed composure to wait for an option to appear. That came in the form of Jack Parkinson but he blasted the chance out of the ground.
There then came a turning point on 66 minutes. Akrofi managed to rob Paul Goodacre and raced into the area. The Maidstone striker should have got a shot in on goal but he kept on going and Goodacre got back to make the tackle.
The home side then went straight up the other end and were awarded a free-kick 35 yards from goal. When the ball came in, Steve Watt managed to make a blocking header but it dropped to Higgins who demonstrated why he is one of the league’s top scorers by riffling the ball past Worgan.
Matters could have got even worse for Maidstone 16 minutes from time. Tom Mills did well to tackle Joe Paxman but the ball came back to Higgins and he drove a low shot towards the near post only for Worgan to make a fine block.
It was then the Stones’ turn to go close as the excellent Alex Brown saw his effort cleared off the line by Ryan Sammons. With the game becoming increasingly stretched, the Rocks got into a good position when Sammons headed the ball down to Higgins who shot on the turn but he could only find Worgan’s arms.
With the game in its final moments, Maidstone poured forwards in search of a winner. Mills crossed for Greenhalgh who lifted the ball over the bar before substitute Bradley Jordan pushed forwards and picked out Greenhalgh who sent an enticing ball across the box which substitute Charley Robertson just failed to connect with.
Then with 90 minutes on the clock, the Stones drew a full length save from Hughes. Robertson did well to gain possession and find Jordan who hit a low shot which threatened to creep inside the left hand post before Hughes intervened with a decent stop.
East Thurrock United: Sam Higgins 67
Maidstone United: Ben Greenhalgh 17
East Thurrock United: David Hughes, Ryan Sammons, Tom Stephen, Ben Wood, Paul Goodacre, Connor Witherspoon, Joe Paxman, Nicky Symons, Sam Higgins, Lewis Smith, Kye Ruel. Subs not used: Ryan Boswell, Tom Anderson, Darren Phillips, Ross Parmenter, Jason Ngandu.
Maidstone United: Lee Worgan, Jamie Coyle, Tom Mills, Steve Watt, Sonny Miles, James Rogers, Matt Bodkin, Jack Parkinson, Alex Akrofi, Alex Brown (Charley Robertson 78), Alex Brown, Ben Greenhalgh (Bradley Jordan 87). Subs not used:Phil Starkey, Aaron Simpson, Will Godmon.