Saturday 14 February // Ryman League Premier Division // Attendance: 1,865 // Report by Ruth Tunnell
After three good victories away from home, the Stones returned to the Gallagher Stadium for their first league fixture since they surrendered their unbeaten home record to Enfield Town.
But there was to be no continuation of Maidstone’s recent winning streak as they conceded a late equaliser against Witham Town.
This was a flat performance from the Stones and they never seriously tested Martyn Guest in the Witham goal. With Steve Watt, James Rogers and Billy Bricknell all out through suspension this was an opportunity for others to stake their claim in the team but unfortunately, Maidstone looked as though they really missed this trio of players.
With two minutes gone, Jay May knocked the ball down with his chest with his back to goal. Guest was drawn from his line and came out of his box as George Porter gained possession but the Stones couldn’t find a gap for a shot. Guest then retreated as Porter back heeled the ball to Matt Bodkin and his cross came to Frannie Collin whose half volley went wide.
May was involved again when he saw a header from a Craig Stone cross drop inches wide of the left hand post but as the half progressed, Witham started to come into the game more. On 15 minutes, some neat play from the visitors ended with Ryan Charles cutting in the box and his low drive brought a diving save from Lee Worgan.
Six minutes after this, Ekpiteta Marvin conceded a corner. Collin whipped the ball in from the Maidstone left and Guest could only push it out as far as May who had little time to react and he stuck his leg out, he could only steer the ball wide of the right hand post.
The Stones were struggled to impose themselves and they nearly paid for some sloppy passing on 27 minutes. Maidstone’s defence were unable to clear the ball and Charles popped up with a low shot through a crowd which drew a smart stop from Worgan.
Witham soon went even closer as the half time interval drew nearer. The visitors broke quickly following a corner from the Stones and Danny Emmanuel picked out Jamie Guy who was around the edge of the box on the Witham right. Guy struck a strong shot goalwards which Worgan could only parry and the arriving Stone accidentally dragged the ball back towards the line but Collin had chased all the way back and he managed to make the clearance.
Then with the game in first half stoppage time, Collin found Bodkin on the Maidstone right. May tried to get on the end of Bodkin’s cross and couldn’t quite do so but it came to Porter who did well to drive into space and he squared the ball into the middle where it was met by May and he fired in the opening goal.
On 65 minutes, Worgan kept Maidstone in front. Witham carved the Stones open with a run from Danny Emmanuel and the ball eventually came to Jack Paxman who struck it well but he was denied by a great save from Worgan who managed to push the ball all the way across the face of goal.
As the half entered its later stages, the Stones did have a couple of chances to pull further ahead. Tom Mills went on a driving run and he found May who did well to turn into the area despite being under pressure. Guest came off his line and substitute Greenhalgh picked up possession before trying to chip the ball to the back post where it came to Collin but he was unable to take advantage of the opportunity.
May then found Porter who timed his run to beat the offside trap but he could only find Guest’s arms. And moments later, Porter’s long throw was flicked into the middle of the box by Parkinson where it came to Greenhalgh who had plenty of time for a shot which he guided wide of the left hand post.
Then with just two minutes remaining, Witham grabbed the equaliser they deserved. Greenhalgh was adjudged to have fouled Conor Mead just inside the Town half. The free-kick was pumped into the box where it was headed on and the ball dropped to substitute John Watson who took his chance well and he riffled the ball into the right hand side of the net.
Maidstone United: Jay May 45
Witham Town: John Watson 88
Maidstone United: Lee Worgan, Craig Stone, Tom Mills, Jamie Coyle, Sonny Miles, Alex Brown, Matt Bodkin (Ben Greenhalgh 70), Jack Parkinson, Jay May, Frannie Collin, George Porter. Subs not used:, Phil Starkey, Ollie Brown, Liam King, Will Godmon.
Witham Town: Martyn Guest, Connor Mead, Vinnie Durrant, Taylor Hastings, Marvin Ekpiteta, Ryan Blackman (John Watson 68), Danny Emmanuel, Lewis Dark, Jamie Guy (Chris Bryan 71), Jack Paxman, Ryan Charles (Luke Callander 54). Subs not used: Lewis Godbold, Nikki Beale.