Saturday 14 March // Ryman League Premier Division // Attendance: 2,000 // Report by Ruth Tunnell
Two goals from Jay May made sure the Stones stretched their lead at the top of the table and picked up their 13th home win of the season.
The result meant that Maidstone also did the double over Lewes after a 2-0 win at the Dripping Pan back in September.
With five minutes on the clock, Maidstone strung together a neat move. Shane Huke played the ball to Jack Parkinson who made room for a fine pass out to George Porter on the left wing. Porter laid it back to Tom Mills and his cross was met by May who hooked his shot wide of the post.
As the game neared the mid point of the first half, Craig Stone crossed from the right and Billy Bricknell brought the ball under control before poking his shot into the arms of Rikki Banks. But Banks perhaps should have done better on 26 minutes when he came to meet a free-kick from Frannie Collin and the ball was headed over him by Shane Huke. Huke’s effort did appear to be going in and May made sure by tapping the ball in from all of a couple of yards.
It wasn’t until the 30th minute that Lewes created a notable chance. The Stones couldn’t get the ball clear from a corner and it came out to Tom Davis who wasn’t closed down quickly but he rushed his shot and fired it into the side netting.
The Stones controlled long periods of the second half and just after the break, George Porter played the ball out to Stone on the right. He exchanged passes with May who backheeled it into the path of Stone whose shot was charged down and from the rebound, Porter dragged the ball wide.
Then with 52 minutes gone, Maidstone doubled their lead. Porter lost the ball in midfield but did well to win it back with a sliding challenge. He then picked out Bricknell who swept it to Collin and Collin’s excellent cross was bundled in by May at the back post.
Shortly after this May had a great chance to complete his hat-trick. He gained possession in midfield following a mistake from the Lewes defence and managed to knock the ball past Rikki Banks who had come rushing from his goal. But the Rooks got players back on the edge of the box and when May did make room for a shot, his low drive went wide of the left hand post.
James Rogers soon drove the Stones forwards and he found May who curled the ball just off target. Then just after this, Tom Mills was brought down just outside the box and Collin’s free-kick was heading into the net until Banks intervened with a decent save to divert the ball onto the bar.
Matters then suddenly became a bit nervy for Maidstone when Lewes halved the deficit with 17 minutes remaining. Jamie Coyle conceded a free-kick 25 yards from goal and James Fraser expertly sent it flying into the top right hand corner of the net.
Fraser went close to pulling Lewes level just seconds later when his shot from the edge of the box just missed the right hand post before at the other end, Banks made a mess of an attempted throw out and dropped the ball inside his own area. Mills managed to pull the ball back into the middle and Bricknell’s effort was blocked before Jack Parkinson drove the rebound inches wide.
Five minutes before the end, Fraser set nerves jangling again. The tricky Lewes striker managed to get a rising shot away from close to the edge of the box but Lee Worgan did well to push the ball behind for a corner.
This was to be the last time that the visitors really threatened though and it was the Stones who could have added to their tally in the closing moments. On 87 minutes, substitute Matt Bodkin went down just outside the box and Bricknell’s free-kick went just over the bar. Then seconds later, a corner from Bodkin was headed down by Jamie Coyle and both Bricknell and Parkinson saw their shots cleared away from the line.
Maidstone United: Jay May 26, 52
Lewes: James Fraser 73
Maidstone United: Lee Worgan, Craig Stone, Tom Mills, Shane Huke, Jamie Coyle, James Rogers, Billy Bricknell (Ben Greenhalgh 90), Jack Parkinson, Jay May, Frannie Collin (Matt Bodkin 81), George Porter. Subs not used: Sonny Miles, Phil Starkey, Will Godmon.
Lewes: Rikki Banks, Sam Crabb, Sam Cole, Tom Davis (George Brown 64), Gary Elphick, Ollie Rowe, Arron Hopkinson, Chris Breach, Luke Blewden (Calum Willock 64), James Fraser, Matt Crabb. Subs not used: Jordan Badger, Josh Marshall, Joe Taylor.