Saturday 28 March // Ryman League Premier Division // Attendance: 2,226 // Report by Ruth Tunnell
Maidstone United’s hopes of winning the league have been boosted and at the same time, Margate’s diminished, after the Stones came from behind to defeat third placed Gate.
Jay Saunders knew that Margate’s formation could cause Maidstone problems and so he made changes to his starting line up bringing in Alex Brown and Billy Bricknell who got the vital goals for the Stones. And whilst the league title won’t be decided by the result of this game, the Stones will take a lot of confidence into the remaining games.
The game started at a good tempo but it wasn’t until the 18th minute that Margate created an opportunity. Tom Phipp put the ball into Luke Moore who appeared to be offside and his half volley went wide of the left hand post.
Maidstone quickly responded with a chance of their own. Jay May did well to find Billy Bricknell who played the ball into Tom Mills who was in space out of the left. His low cross was touched out of the box by Alex Brown to Frannie Collin who quickly hit a shot which never troubled Nikki Bull in the Margate goal.
Shortly afterwards, Shane Huke appeared to hesitate as Freddie Ladapo made progress down the left hand side of the box. Ladapo managed to pick out Moore with the pull back but Moore’s resultant effort was off target.
Then on 30 minutes, Jay May seemed to be shoved over inside the box by Ben Gerring. However, no penalty was forthcoming and within four minutes, the Gate were in front. Ryan James, who had just replaced the injured Moore, slipped the ball into the area and with the Maidstone defence not at their sharpest, former Stones player Zac Attwood nipped in and put the ball past Lee Worgan.
However, Maidstone made sure they went into the break with the scores level as they equalised in first half stoppage time. The ball came to Alex Brown who raced across the edge of the box before hitting a quite brilliant strike which flew past the stranded Bull and into the left hand side of the net.
The Stones came out brightly in the second half. With 51 minutes gone Brown played the ball forward for Billy Bricknell to chase. It looked as though Bull should have dealt with the situation comfortably but he flapped at the ball allowing Bricknell to get a shot away which Gerring did well to slide in on and divert onto the post.
Two minutes later though, Maidstone took the lead. Tom Mills curled a decent cross into the box which May knocked into space and Bricknell reacted quickly to force the ball past Bull.
There was then a scare for the Stones when Margate nearly equalised just before the hour. Steve Watt looked as though he was going to get the ball clear after disposing Attwood but the Margate striker came back at him and crossed for James. James’ low shot looked to be going in through a crowd only for Watt to divert it off the line.
After this the Gate seemed to loose heart and whilst they never troubled Worgan in the remaining moments it was the Stones who had the final chance of the match. A poor clearance from Gerring came to May who found Collin and his rising drive flew just over the bar.
Maidstone United: Alex Brown 45, Billy Bricknell 53
Margate: Zac Attwood 34
Maidstone United: Lee Worgan, Craig Stone, Tom Mills, Steve Watt (Jamie Coyle 70), Shane Huke, James Rogers, Alex Brown (George Porter 79), Jack Parkinson, Jay May, Frannie Collin, Billy Bricknell (Matt Bodkin 78). Subs not used: Jack Paxman, Will Godnman.
Margate: Nikki Bull, Tambeson Eyong, Sam Rents, Tom Phipp (Brett Johnson 42), Charlie Wassmer, Ben Gerring, Lewis Taylor, Kane Wills, Zac Attwood, Freddie Ladapo (Ryan Moss 67), Luke Moore (Ryan James 33). Subs not used: Anthony Riviere, Jack Bennett.