Wednesday 10 May // National League Youth Alliance play-offs // Report by Adrian Swan
This was a sensational victory for the Ambers against Boston United in the National League play-off quarter final.
This newly introduced competition sees the winners of all the Alliance divisions play-off in a knock out tournament to be crowned overall Alliance Champions.
Although Maidstone, with home advantage, might have seemed to be favourites no one could have forecast the margin of victory against a side who had only lost one league game in their division and had only conceded 12 goals in their 16 league matches all season.
On a bright sunny day the Ambers bossed the game from the start taking an early lead on four minutes when a Jack Richards ball into the box was well controlled by Alex Skinner on his chest and then as it dropped he hit a superb volley that flashed home high to the right of the diving Boston keeper Harry Payne into the top corner of the net.
Minutes later Richards tested Payne with a 25-yard dipping shot that the visiting keeper held moving to his left before he was in action again almost immediately when a Richards right wing corner was cleared out to Tom Carlton on the edge of the box and his powerful shot was pushed onto the bar and over by Payne diving high to his right.
Ambers centre forward David Smith then had a shot on the turn fly straight at the busy Payne before Skinner’s near post cross was turned narrowly wide by Smith.
The Ambers made it two on 25 minutes when Jon Burtonshaw’s rasping drive from the edge of the box appeared to have been saved by Payne diving to his left but as he fell he lost control of the ball and Smith was on hand to sweep the loose ball home from close range.
Carlton then had a shot fly just wide across the face of goal before a Richards shot flew straight at Payne.
On 34 minutes the hosts made it three with a well worked move as Burtonshaw laid the ball back to Carlton just outside the area and he hit another powerful shot that this time beat Payne low to his left, the ball flying into the net off his left hand post.
On 43 minutes the visitors had their first real chance of a goal when a Liam Adams left wing corner found Jack Withers at the far post but his close range header flew over. A minute later Boston’s Jordan Tate made space well on the edge of the box but his low shot flew into the side netting. On the stroke of half time the Ambers made it four when Carlton’s pinpoint cross from the right was turned home from close range by the predatory Smith.
The second half saw no relief for the hard pressed visitors as the Ambers scored four times in a incredible 10 minute spell.
Firstly almost straight from kick off the ball found Richards down the left and he cut inside and from all of 25 yards hit a fantastic shot that arrowed high to the left of the diving Payne into the top corner of the net off the post and bar.
Boston then had a chance to pull a goal back on 50 minutes when they had their first effort on goal as Jack Brown’s right wing cross found Maison North racing into the box but his well directed header was saved by the largely unemployed Ambers keeper Nathan Parsons moving high to his left.
Minutes later Maidstone scored again when Skinner’s right wing cross was deftly turned home low to the left of Payne by Smith at the near post to complete his hat trick.
A minute later he got his fourth of the afternoon when he got onto the end of a Sam Fairweather-Oates left wing cross at the near post to powerfully head the ball home high to the right of Payne.
Shortly afterwards it was eight as Smith’s right wing cross was neatly slotted home by Burtonshaw low to the left of the exposed Payne. Another Carlton shot on the turn was then well saved by Payne low down at his left hand post before the Ambers got their ninth on the hour mark. Again it was from another good passing move as Fairweather-Oates drilled a deep left wing cross to the far post where Skinner laid the ball back inside to Richards who rifled the ball home high to the left of Payne.
It was double figures on 69 minutes when another well hit Richards shot was spilled by Payne diving to his left, the ball falling to substitute Reece Bridge who swept the ball home from close range.
Another Ambers substitute Joe Ford made it eleven on 73 minutes with another superlative strike from all of 30 yards smashing the ball home high to the left of the diving Payne.
Minutes later it might have been twelve when Richards made a strong run down the left before cutting into the box, leaving a number of Boston players in his wake but then with only Payne to beat he fired over when well placed.
Boston’s Brown then hit a long range shot that Parsons held before the Ambers made it a dozen on 84 minutes when Skinner’s right wing cross was neatly converted from close range by substitute Jake Everitt high to the left of Payne.
This win takes Maidstone through to the semi finals next week where they travel to meet Southampton (Sparsholt).
Goal scorers: Alex Skinner 4, David Smith 25, 45, 53, 54, Tom Carlton 34, Jack Richards 46, 60, Jon Burtonshaw 56, Reece Bridge 69, Joe Ford 73, Jake Everett 84
Team: Nathan Parsons, Ben Fitchett, Sam Fairweather-Oates, Archie Wrigglesworth, Jamie Rawsthorpe, Will Thomas, Alex Skinner, Tom Carlton, David Smith, Jon Burtonshaw, Jack Richards. Subs: Reece Bridge, Joe Ford, Jake Everett