Vanarama National League South // Saturday 14 March // Att: 817 // Report from KentOnline
Hakan Hayrettin’s first official game as Maidstone’s main man ended in defeat at Eastbourne.
Coronavirus fears may have led to the suspension of Premier League and Football League action but the show went on for most National League clubs.
Goalkeeper Chris Lewington’s own goal gave relegation-threatened Boro a half-time lead and the hosts made sure of the points with goals from Jack Skinner and James Ferry after the break.
Maidstone welcomed back skipper George Elokobi and Noah Chemsain from suspension in Hayrettin’s first formal game at the helm.
The Stones defence had a testing wind to deal with in the first half with Boro quickly able to turn defence into attack and going close with Charlie Walker’s turn and shot inside three minutes.
Eastbourne, though, would overhit a few passes early on and soon realised they were better keeping the ball on the deck in the conditions.
It took Maidstone time to get into the game as an attacking force but Dan Wishart started to get some joy down the left as the half wore on.
He certainly had the beating of his man and with Chesmain joining in from left-back, it looked a good source of openings for the Stones.
Walker brought a good low save from Lewington midway through the half but Maidstone, after getting a foothold, had a couple of decent chances.
Both fell to Max Watters, with Steven James making a goal-saving challenge after the Stones striker met Wishart’s cross.
He was in again later in the half from Zihni Temelci’s clever pass but fired straight at keeper Franco Ravizzoli, who’d raced off his line.
Justin Amaluzor was crowded out after a strong run into the box as Maidstone enjoyed a good spell but they fell behind to a bizarre own goal in the 42nd minute.
Kiran Khinda-John’s cross appeared to be routine for Lewington but he miscued his punch in the wind and the ball dropped into the net.
Maidstone were quickly out the blocks at the start of the second half, Amaluzor playing two inviting balls across goal, but they went two down on 48 minutes.
It came after Elokobi’s free-kick was cut out with ex-Stones striker Greg Luer’s shot brilliantly headed off the line by Sam Corne, only for Skinner to slot home the rebound.
Maidstone disputed the goal but it was eventually allowed to stand.
It got worse for United on 58 minutes with Ferry slamming home the third after Skinner’s shot was blocked.
The Stones looked all over the place for a spell after that, with Eastbourne playing their way through them at will and it took an excellent reflex save from by Lewington from Skinner’s deflected shot to deny them a fourth.
Maidstone rallied with Elokobi hitting the bar from 20 yards, Ravizzoli sticking out a foot to deny Watters from an Amaluzor cross and Amaluzor thwarted when through one-on-one.
In between those openings, Boro skipper Kane Wills set up Walker who missed two chances to beat Lewington.
Maidstone: Lewington, Hoyte, Marshall, Elokobi, Chesmain (Seaman 73mins), Corne (Bouccaud 83mins), Amaluzor, Khan, Temelci (Tarh 59mins), Wishart, Watters. Subs not used: Cole, Johnson.