Saturday 7 February // Ryman League Premier Division // Attendance: 375 // Report by Ruth Tunnell
For the third league game in the row, the Stones notched up a win as they put a stop to Wingate and Finchley’s recent run of good form.
This was a comfortable victory for Maidstone and their first half performance was probably their best for a number of weeks. On another afternoon though, the Stones might have further improved their goal difference as they created numerous chances but as Maidstone’s defence looked very solid, the visitors were never in danger of losing their lead in this match.
The Stones started brightly. On 11 minutes, Frannie Collin found Tom Mills with a delightful pass and the left back ran into the area and drove the ball goalwards only for Bobby Smith to make a diving save and Billy Bricknell couldn’t reach the rebound.
Not long after this, Collin was instrumental again as this time he put the Stones in front. The Maidstone marksman received the ball about 20 yards from goal and he turned into space before he unleashed a fabulous rising shot which flew into the top right hand corner of the net.
By now, the Stones were dominating and on 25 minutes, George Porter, who impressed on his league debut, found Collin who slipped the ball into the area for Bricknell to chase. Bricknell did reach the ball but unfortunately Smith was quickly off his line to snuff out the danger.
Bricknell then went even closer for the Stones. Following a Maidstone corner from Collin, the ball came out of the box to Jack Parkinson and he whipped a cross in which was flicked on by Steve Watt. The ball dropped to Bricknell and his shot on the turn was pushed away from the line by goalkeeper Smith.
Then on 36 minutes, the Stones kept possession well out on their left and in and around the Wingate area. The move came to an end when the ball came into Bricknell who went down inside the box and the referee, Mr Smith, pointed to the spot. Collin assumed responsibility for the penalty and he confidently blasted it into the left hand side of the net.
Late on in the first half, Porter exchanged passes with Bricknell as the two players advanced forwards and then Porter unselfishly squared the ball to Bricknell who by this point only had Smith to beat. The Wingate keeper did well to stop Bricknell’s shot and then from the rebound, Bricknell put the ball wide of the right hand post.
And with the game in first half stoppage time, the Stones had yet another chance to pull even further ahead. This time a long clearance from Worgan picked out Porter who motored towards the box and then drove the ball all the way across the face of goal.
Maidstone tried to keep the pressure on early in the second half. With 51 minutes played, Jay May put Bricknell in on goal. Bricknell did well to time his run but Smith was smartly off his line once more and he smothered Bricknell’s shot.
Sixty seconds after this, Worgan was called into action. Substitute Jack Read hit a drive from distance which did appear to be going wide but Worgan made sure by pushing it behind. Then from the resultant corner from Richard Graham, Steve Watt got his head to the ball and Worgan made a diving save.
Another corner from Graham soon caused the Maidstone defence problems. Collin couldn’t completely head the ball clear and it came to substitute Karl Oludiyde who saw his fierce low effort deflect just wide.
The game started petering out as it moved towards its conclusion though but with 78 minutes played, substitute Alex Brown picked up possession just outside the area. He managed to work his way into the box and his low shot was creeping inside the right hand post only for Smith to intervene with a full length save.
Then with just two minutes remaining, Parkinson hit a long ball forwards to Bricknell. He found substitute Ben Greenhalgh whose cross came to the unmarked Jay May and from close range, he headed wide of the left hand post.
Wingate and Finchley: –
Maidstone United: Frannie Collin 19, 37 (pen)
Wingate and Finchley: Bobby Smith, Mark Goodman, Ronayne Marsh-Brown, Stuart Cake (Karl Oludiyde 60), Marc Weatherstone, Brad Hewitt (Jack Read 38), Ahmet Rifat, Tommy Tejan-Sie, Robert Laney, Ola Sogbanmu, Richard Graham (Gavin Suddell 75). Subs not used: Paul Wright, Joe Sharpe.
Maidstone United: Lee Worgan, Craig Stone, Tom Mills, Steve Watt, Sonny Miles, James Rogers, George Porter (Ben Greenhalgh 86), Jack Parkinson, Jay May (Matt Bodkin 88), Frannie Collin (Alex Brown 75), Billy Bricknell. Subs not used: Jamie Coyle, Will Godmon.