Tuesday 24 November // Kent Senior Cup Second Round // Attendance: 479 // Report by Ruth Tunnell
In a game where Maidstone conceded nearly half the number of goals they have let in all season, a much changed Stones side were comprehensively beaten by a very strong Ebbsfleet team to bring an end to the home side’s interest in the Kent Senior Cup.
It took just four minutes for the Fleet to open the scoring. Alex Osborn, who has only just finished a loan spell with Maidstone, whipped in a fantastic cross from the right which Charlie Sheringham met with a thumping header which flew past Ben Bridle-Card.
Moments later, Danny Haynes should have doubled the visitor’s lead. Once again Osborn was involved as this time he put a deep ball towards the back post to Haynes who then shot all the way across the face of goal when well placed.
It was all one-way traffic at this point as Ebbsfleet poured forwards once more. Michael West cut the ball back to Osborn who put another decent ball into Haynes who directed his header just wide.
An injury to Lloyd Harrington, who has only returned from a long term absence, briefly interrupted the Fleet’s flow. Then with 20 minutes gone Robbie Willmott lifted an awkward delivery into box which left Bridle-Card in an exposed position but Sheringham was unable to capitalise and he lifted his shot over the bar.
It wasn’t long though before Ebbsfleet did pull further head. With 28 minutes on the clock Haynes cut the ball back across the box to Osborn who lobbed a casual but impressive finish past the stranded Bridle-Card.
Shortly after this Maidstone threatened for the first time in the evening. Trialist Charles Banya did well to pull the ball back to Alex Flisher who hit his effort straight into Jon Miles’ arms in the Ebbsfleet goal.
At the other end, Osborn went on a strong run which took him into the box before he hit a low drive which Bridle-Card did very well to keep out with a diving save to his right. But unfortunately Bridle-Card could do nothing to stop West from crossing for Sheringham to sweep a delightful finish in at the near post with 39 minutes gone.
Osborn then had a good chance to add a fourth for the visitors but as he tried to place the ball inside the left hand side of the net, he misjudged his shot and it went just wide of the post. The Stones immediately broke up the other end and Alex Akrofi passed back to the arriving Alex Brown who smashed the ball just over the bar.
The final opportunity of the half also fell to Maidstone. With the game almost in stoppage time, Banya expertly moved into space inside the box and hit a rising effort which looked destined for the top left hand corner of the net until Miles intervened with a fine save as he pushed the ball wide.
Ten minutes after the break, the Stones were gifted a glimmer of a hope of getting back into the game. Connor Hood crossed from the right which Miles came to claim only for him to drop the ball straight onto the head of Alex Akrofi and the ball rebounded into the net.
But this brief period of hope for Maidstone was soon dashed. Willmott crossed for Haynes who saw his header well parried from Bridle-Card and the ball was then put behind for a corner. From this, the resultant cross into the box caused a scramble with Anthony Acheampong’s back heeled effort being cleared off the line but it came back out to substitute Joe Denny who fired the ball in through a crowd of players.
Just moments later the Stones had an excellent chance to halve the deficit. Akrofi’s cross from the right came to Frannie Collin who was unmarked and just yards from goal but he headed the ball over the bar.
However, 11 minutes from time, Banya slipped an excellent ball into Collin. Collin managed to get into the area and he then unselfishly squared the pass to substitute Jon Burtonshaw and the 16-year old finished from close range.
Unfortunately for Maidstone though, they were then made to pay for a defensive lapse just sixty seconds later. A cross came over to Osborn who was left all on his own and he scored his second of the evening.
Then with two minutes left, Ebbsfleet wrapped up the scoring for the evening. Once more Osborn was allowed to deliver a fine cross from the left and Sheringham had the time to put a neat finish past Bridle-Card to seal his hat-trick.
Maidstone United: Alex Akrofi 55, Jon Burtonshaw 79
Ebbsfleet United: Charlie Sheringham 4, 39, 88 Alex Osborn 28, 80 Joe Denny 63
Maidstone United: Ben Bridle-Card, Connor Hood (James Sutherland 82), Reece Butler, James Rogers, Toby Jarvis, Will Thomas, Charles Banya, Alex Brown (Jon Burtonshaw 75), Alex Akrofi (Jack Richards 84), Frannie Collin, Alex Flisher. Subs not used: Tom Mackelden, ,Sam Reed.
Ebbsfleet United: Jon Miles, Dean Pooley, Sean Shields (Stacy Long 86), Matt Johnson, Anthony Acheampong, Lloyd Harrington (Joe Denny 11), Alex Osborn, Michael West, Charlie Sheringham, Danny Haynes (Casey Johnson 80), Robbie Willmott. Subs not used: Brandon Hall, Daryl McMahon.