Dartford Reds 1-1 Maidstone United Blues
Dartford Reds entertained Maidstone United Blues on their excellent new 3G pitch in front of a healthy crowd who mainly ensconced in their brand new Atcost stand, writes Adrian Swan.
After an even start it was Maidstone who had the first chance of the game on 11 minutes when Elliott Capel’s dinked pass found an unmarked Dale Ashman but he sent his header wide when well placed. The Reds then had a couple of attempts at goal as Tomas Gil fired wide from the edge of the box before Taylor Fisher’s left wing cross found Joe Cooper at the far post but his glancing header flew wide of the target.
The home side then took the lead on 21 minutes when Henri Fulton whipped in a free kick from wide right that saw the ball fly into the Blues box where their centre half Lewis Scotter, deceived by the pace of the bouncing ball, in attempting to clear could only slice it to the right of his keeper Thomas Taylor into the net for an own goal.
The Blues then drew level on the half hour after they had been awarded a free kick some 25 yards from goal. Matthew Hathaway took the free kick and drilled the ball home low to the right of the diving Charlie Cloke into the bottom corner of the net. The last action of a tight first half saw Rhys Bartlett hit a long range shot narrowly wide.
Early in the second half for the Blues, Ashman hit a 25 yard shot that flashed just wide before the Reds had a chance of their own on 60 minutes when Liam Gillies flicked the ball onto the run into the box of Cooper who had his close range shot well saved by Taylor diving low to his left for a corner.
Minutes later Maidstone almost scored through route one football when Taylor’s long kick upfield was not dealt with by the Reds defence and was allowed to bounce through into their area where Bartlett hit a deft hooked volley that Cloke saved superbly diving high to his left for a corner.
Shortly afterwards the Blues went close again when Charlie Owen’s right wing cross found Ashman in the area but his flicked header was deflected away for a corner.
For the home side the lively Fisher, who had made many good mazy runs in the match, turned well some 30 yards out and fired in a low shot that forced Taylor into full length diving save to his left.
On 77 minutes it looked as if the home side would take all three points when Fulton’s right wing corner was missed by a stretching Taylor and reached Richard Gregory at the far post but although his header back across goal beat Taylor to his left it was blocked on the line by substitute Frankie Kennedy who then cleared the ball away to safety.
Andrew Ikyesan for the home side then had a long range shot fly straight at Taylor before on 88 minutes it was the Blues who nearly took all the points when Bartlett’s curling dipping cross from wide right was allowed to bounce dangerously across the face of goal and was just diverted away from goal by a defender covering the far post.
The last chance of the game came in stoppage time when Ashman turned well on the edge of the box and hit a low drive that Cloke diving to his right gathered at the second attempt. A draw was probably a fair result as both sides had periods of ascendancy throughout the game.
In the other academy news today, Maidstone United Ambers will take on Lewes in the next round of the National League Youth Alliance Cup. The match will be played at the Gallagher Stadium on the afternoon of Wednesday 7 December.