Tuesday 21 March // Vanarama National League // Attendance: 2,929 // Report by Ruth Tunnell
On the night that Maidstone United’s new stand opened, the Stones returned to league action after a two and a half week break to further extend their unbeaten run with a point against Sutton United.
The U’s clearly hadn’t read the script regarding evening with a bumper crowd packed into the Gallagher Stadium as they started the more strongly and looked likely to capitalise on Maidstone’s rustiness following the postponement of their last two fixtures.
With two minutes gone, Roarie Deacon was allowed time to shoot from the edge of the box but he dragged his shot wide of the right hand post. Then just sixty seconds later, Deacon was involved again. This time he burst down the right and hit a rising effort which hit the top of the post and went behind Lee Worgan’s goal.
Not long after this, Sutton had another opportunity to take the lead. Jamar Loza lost the ball in midfield and it was quickly worked to Adam Coombes whose drive was heading in until Lee Worgan intervened with a fine save to push the ball away from goal.
Apart from a comfortable save by Worgan from Kevin Amankwaah this was the last time either keeper was tested until the second half. Shortly after the break, Kevin Lokko stuck out a leg to divert a shot from Deacon which was threatening to go inside the right hand post. But on 51 minutes, Sutton went in front. Kieran Cadogan went on a run down the left and he put a low ball into the box which was accidentally turned into his own net by Jamie Coyle as he tried to stop Adam Coombes from scoring.
It wasn’t until just past the hour that Maidstone had their first attempt on goal. Loza put a cross into the box which both substitute Alex Flisher and Joe Pigott went for. The ball dropped down and Pigott’s shot on the turn was saved by the legs of Will Puddy.
But on 68 minutes the Stones drew level. The referee, Mr Whitton, felt that Loza had been tripped in the box by Kevin Amankwaah and it was Loza who converted the penalty by sending the ball low into the bottom left hand corner of the net.
Straight from the kick off the visitors might have re-taken the lead. Coombes got in behind the Maidstone defence and his shot clipped the cross bar. And it was soon Maidstone’s turn to go close when Pigott found himself in a decent position only for Puddy to parry his effort from relatively close range.
As the game moved towards its conclusion Maidstone looked the more likely of the two sides to nick a winner. But the closest they came was on was with eight minutes remaining, Reece Prestedge’s corner came out to Stuart Lewis on the edge of the box and his shot took a deflection and flew onto the bar.
Maidstone United: Jamar Loza 68 (pen)
Sutton United: Jamie Coyle (O.G.) 51
Maidstone United: 1. Lee Worgan, 22. Seth-Nana Twuamasi, 5. Kevin Lokko, 4. Jamie Coyle, 3. Tom Mills, 10. Jack Paxman (23. Yemi Odubade 84), 14. Reece Prestedge, 8. Stuart Lewis, 25. Jamar Loza, 32. Joe Pigott, 9. George Oakley (Alex Flisher 59). Subs not used: 16. Bobby-Joe Taylor 20. Jake McCarthy, 24. Magnus Okuonghae.
Sutton United: 26. Will Puddy, 2. Kevin Amankwaah, 4. Dean Beckwith, 6. Jamie Collins, 8. Bedsente Gomis (18. Jack Jebb 83), 15. Craig Eastmond, 16. Nicky Bailey, 21. Roarie Deacon (24. Maxime Biamou 63), 27. Simon Downer (17. Dan Spence 60), 30. Adam Coombes, 31. Kieron Cadogan. Subs not used: 3. Ben Jefford, 14. Craig Dundas.