Saturday 18 April // Ryman League Premier Division // Attendance: 3,000 // Report by Ruth Tunnell
Maidstone United will almost certainly be confirmed as the Ryman Premier League Division champions after a nil nil draw with play off chasers Dulwich Hamlet.
With second placed Hendon drawing at Grays, the Greens now need to make up an unlikely 19 goals on the Stones in just two games to prevent the Stones from definitely lifting the trophy next Saturday in front of their home fans.
This game was a closely contested affair and neither goalkeeper had a busy afternoon. With 11 minutes gone, a kick from Lee Worgan into a strong headwind went to Jack Dixon but he dragged his shot wide of the left hand post.
Then just past the midway point of the half, Maidstone got caught trying to draw Dulwich into the offside trap. Harry Ottaway went rushing towards goal but he was quite far left of goal and Lee Worgan did enough to put him off so his attempted cross went wide.
As time progressed, the Stones started to look more threatening and they went close to opening the scoring on 35 minutes. A neat move involving Alex Brown and Frannie Collin ended with Jack Parkinson putting the ball out wide to Jay May and his cross was swept towards goal by Steve Watt only for Phil Wilson in the Dulwich goal to get it away from the line.
Not long after the break, the Stones broke and a good cushioned header from Phil Starkey in midfield went to Jack Parkinson. Parkinson gave the ball to Frannie Collin and his long range shot went into Wilson’s arms.
Just past the hour, Lee Worgan rushed off his line to try and deal with the threat of Xavier Vidal who was in down the right hand side of the box. Vidal put a low cross across the six yard box only for Shane Huke to make an important interception and get the ball away from goal.
Dulwich then enjoyed a good spell of possession before the Stones finished the game looking the more likely of the two sides to grab a winner. On 72 minutes, James Rogers passed to substitute Ben Greenhalgh and his cross just evaded Collin who was waiting to pounce.
Three minutes from time Craig Stone put a free-kick into the area which was headed on by Parkinson. The ball dropped to substitute Billy Bricknell who fired well over the bar.
Then with just a minute left, a goal kick from Wilson was held up in the strong wind. The ball was worked to Matt Bodkin and he surged forward before shooting into the crowd behind the goal.
There were then a few nervy moments left as the large number of travelling Stones faithful waited for the whistle and for confirmation that Hendon had also been involved in a goalless draw away at Grays Athletic. And when that came, there were scenes of great jubilation as Maidstone celebrated their best season since reforming.
Maidstone United: –
Dulwich Hamlet: Phil Wilson, Jordan Hibbert, Fraser Shaw (Kershaney Samuels 85), Jack Dixon (Albert Jarrett 76), Matt Drage, Ethan Pinnock, Nyren Clunis, Ashley Carew, Harry Ottaway, Xavier Vidal, Luke Wanadio (Dean McDonald 88). Subs not used: Kevin James, Terrell Forbes.
Maidstone United: Lee Worgan, Craig Stone, Phil Starkey, Steve Watt, Shane Huke, James Rogers, Matt Bodkin, Jack Parkinson, Jay May, Frannie Collin (Billy Bricknell 84), Alex Brown (Ben Greenhalgh 70). Subs not used: Jamie Coyle, Sonny Miles, Will Godmon.