Monday 30 March // Ryman League Premier Division // Attendance: 507 // Report by Ruth Tunnell
It’s not often the Stones are held to a 0-0 draw.
After all, the only time Maidstone have experienced this score line previously during the season was at Stevenage in the FA Cup. But after a tiring victory over Margate just over 48 hours before this match, the Stones will probably be glad of this result which stretches their unbeaten run to seven matches.
This was also the first time that Maidstone had kept a clean sheet away from the Gallagher Stadium since their 2-0 win at Wingate and Finchley at the beginning of February. And apart from a couple of occasions in the first half when Grays looked like they might break the deadlock, the Stones looked very solid defensively.
It wasn’t as though the Blues’ defence were pushed to their limits that regularly either. With two minutes gone, Tom Mills picked up possession just outside the area and hit a dipping half volley that just cleared the bar but that was the only effort of note until a long range shot from Jack Parkinson went the same way just past the mid way point of the half.
The Stones might then have had a penalty when Alex Brown’s fierce effort appeared to strike Kenny Beaney’s arms but the referee, Mr Hancock, was unimpressed. It wasn’t long after this that the Blues started to up the tempo and with 27 minutes gone, Bradley Fortnam-Tomlinson got in behind Shane Huke only for Craig Stone to make a vital goal line clearance.
Fortnam-Tomlinson soon went close again for Grays. The Stones were unable to get the ball away and Lee Worgan’s punched clearance dropped straight to Fortnam-Tomlinson who tried to lob the Maidstone keeper but Worgan managed to make a good save.
Then two minutes before the break, Maidstone had a great chance to take the lead. Matt Bodkin slipped the ball into Jay May who only had Lamar Joseph-Johnson to beat and he elected for an early shot which he poked wide of the left hand post.
With the half time break looming, Grays were awarded a free-kick. This was pumped into the box and Stone’s attempted clearance went straight to Sean Cronin who didn’t seem to expect the chance to come his away and he put the ball wide.
There was little to excite the bumper crowd in the second half. Jay May had a snap shot from the edge of the box held by Joseph-Johnson before Sonny Miles met a low corner from Bodkin and his side footed effort towards the near post appeared to be turned behind by Joseph-Johnson.
As the second period went on, it was the Stones who could have wrapped up three points though. On 71 minutes, a header forward from Huke was touched into Billy Bricknell’s path by Bodkin and from a tight angle, Joseph-Johnson denied Bricknell with a block. Then from the resultant corner from Bodkin, May’s header looked to be going in until James Stevens got the ball away from close to the line.
And with five minutes remaining, Bricknell was involved again. Tom Mills played a long ball forwards which Bricknell did well to lay into the path of the arriving Brown but unfortunately the Maidstone midfielder blazed the ball over the bar and with that, any hopes Maidstone had of claiming all three points from this difficult fixture disappeared.
Gray Athletic: –
Maidstone United: –
Grays Athletic: Lamar Joseph-Johnson, Jay Leader, Jay Siva, Sean Cronin, Immanuel Parry, James Stevens, Correy Davidson (Jordan Wilson 72), Kenny Beaney, Dumebi Gb-Dumaka, Bradley Fortnam-Tomlinson, Joao Carlos. Subs not used: Nathan Ferguson, Conor Gough, Luis Morrison-Derbyshire, Harry Agombar.
Maidstone United: Lee Worgan, Craig Stone, Tom Mills, Sonny Miles, Shane Huke, James Rogers (George Porter 63), Matt Bodkin (Frannie Collin 83), Jack Parkinson, Jay May, Alex Brown (Jack Paxman 86), Billy Bricknell. Subs not used: Phil Starkey, Will Godman.