Thursday 1 January // Ryman League Premier Division // Attendance: 2,226 // Report by Ruth Tunnell
For the third game in succession, the Stones were unable to hold onto the lead as they once again conceded a late goal which this time gave local rivals Tonbridge Angels a share of the points.
This was another frustrating afternoon for Maidstone who created enough opportunities to have won this match comfortably and manager Jay Saunders has made no secret of the fact that he is hoping to strengthen his squad as the Stones look to try and catch Margate at the top of the league.
For a derby match, this encounter was a tame affair and goalmouth action was at a premium in the opening moments. With six minutes gone, Sonny Miles’ clearance came out to former Maidstone player Tom Parkinson. Parkinson took a touch before getting a shot away which deflected behind for a corner.
But after this there was nothing to note until the 29th minute when the game suddenly came to life. Dee Okojie picked up possession not far from the edge of the box and his rising effort appeared to be heading in until Lee Worgan got a touch to divert it onto the bar.
The Stones then immediately went up the other end. Matt Bodkin picked out Frannie Collin who was in a decent position inside the area and his low shot flashed just wide of the left hand post.
As the game edged towards half time, Maidstone started to gain the upper hand. Jack Parkinson found himself crowded out inside the box but managed to get the ball to Steve Watt and his drive was deflected wide. Then the Stones broke quickly and Aaron Simpson’s cross eventually came out to Tom Mills who drew a full length save from Thomas Hadler.
However, the deadlock was finally broken on 45 minutes. First of all Ben Greenhalgh saw a low shot pushed wide by Hadler but strangely no corner was forthcoming. However, Greenhalgh was involved again just seconds later. Matt Bodkin pulled the ball back into the six yard box where Lee Carey couldn’t clear his lines and Greenhalgh composed himself before smashing the ball in from close range.
Tonbridge tried to apply pressure in the opening moments of the second half but it was the Stones who looked the more likely of the two sides to score. With 57 minutes gone, Jack Parkinson lifted an excellent pass into Collin whose shot hit Hadler and bounced back towards Greenhalgh who had his effort blocked.
Hadler was called into action again after Collin hit a quickly taken free-kick out to Greenhalgh. The Maidstone winger ran into the area and he saw the Tonbridge keeper turn his low shot away from the left hand post.
And then, with just over ten minutes left, Maidstone had a spell where they should have taken the lead. First of all a neat move saw James Rogers pass to Collin who played in Bodkin and his pull back evaded the Maidstone players in the box and was turned behind by Lee Carey. From the resultant corner, Greenhalgh’s cross was met by Steve Watt and his header may well have crossed the line before it was cleared by Jack Parter and then when the ball came back out, Greenhalgh appeared to be fouled inside the box by Tommy Whitnell.
The Stones kept pushing though. Just minutes later, Alex Akrofi went on a surging run forwards and got close to goal before poking the ball all the way across the face of goal and wide of the right hand post.
Somewhat predictably, Maidstone were left to rue these missed chances as with just eight minutes remaining, Tonbridge equalised. Watt conceded a free-kick not far from the box out on the Angels right and when Carey’s cross came in, it was flicked on to the unfortunate Miles who accidentally steered the ball past Lee Worgan.
Maidstone United: Ben Greenhalgh 45
Tonbridge Angels: Sonny Miles 82 (O.G.)
Maidstone United: Lee Worgan, Aaron Simpson, Tom Mills, Steve Watt, Sonny Miles, James Rogers (Alex Brown 87), Matt Bodkin, Jack Parkinson, Alex Akrofi, Frannie Collin, Ben Greenhalgh. Subs not used: Jamie Coyle, Chris Piper, Phil Starkey, Will Godmon.
Tonbridge Angels: Thomas Hadler, James Folkes, Jack Parter, Lee Carey, Nathan Campbell, Laurence Ball, Joe Taylor, Tom Parkinson (Charlie Sloecombe 58), Royce Greenidge (Flavio Tavares 73), Tommy Whitnell (Gavin Quintyne 86), Dee Okojie.Sub not used: Kyle Merson.