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Hungerford Town away

Hungerford Town 2-1 Maidstone United

Vanarama National League South // Saturday 9 January 2021

Maidstone’s return to action after a long lay-off ended in defeat at Hungerford.

Chris Lewington’s early own goal and Jake Evans’ second-half strike put the Crusaders in charge.

Scott Rendell replied but United couldn’t force a leveller.

It was Maidstone’s first game since beating Poole in the FA Trophy three weeks ago and a first National South outing since a 2-2 draw at Dorking on December 1.

Hungerford, on the other hand, have been playing regularly and they looked sharper early on.

You could almost hear the hosts’ team-talk – ‘Come on, lads, they haven’t played for ages, fast start’ – and they took the game to Hakan Hayrettin’s men.

There were a couple of hairy moments in the box in the opening minutes and the Crusaders eventually went in front in the 14th minute.

You could almost hear the hosts’ team-talk – ‘Come on, lads, they haven’t played for ages, fast start’ – and they took the game to Hakan Hayrettin’s men.

There were a couple of hairy moments in the box in the opening minutes and the Crusaders eventually went in front in the 14th minute.

Joe Ellul was robbed by Callum Willmoth just outside the box and while Kreshnic Krasniqi cut out the cross, the resulting corner led to the goal.

Willmoth took it, Lewington came for it, but could only help the ball into his own net.

Maidstone had their best spell of the half after falling behind.

Sam Corne’s deflected strike hit the post and Charlie Seaman’s burst into the box had the Crusaders worried before two good chances for Rendell, both from Justin Amaluzor crosses.

The first saw him stroke wide of the far post when the ball dropped to him unmarked.

From the second, he controlled Amaluzor’s ball nicely but keeper Luke Cairney got enough on it.

Maidstone had a good spell of possession midway through the half but rustiness showed at other times, with misplaced passes.

Hungerford had a couple of tricky customers in Craig Fasanmade and wideman Rhys Tyler.

They were willing runners for the hosts, who saw Ryan Seager have a goal ruled out for offside late in the half.

Seaman’s fierce strike was parried after another good burst into the box at the start of the second half.

That prompted a good little spell as Maidstone got after their opponents, forcing some last-ditch defending.

But Hungerford went 2-0 up against the run of play in the 57th minute, with Seager knocking the past the grounded Lewington and crossing for Evans to find the empty net.

Seager then played in Fasanmade, who shook off Ellul, but Lewington held on to his shot.

Maidstone fought back from two down to draw at both Havant and Dorking, so all wasn’t lost.

A double change followed and United went 4-4-2 in a bid to find a way back.

They were back in the hunt in the 74th minute when Porter fed Gavin Hoyte and his cross was headed home by Rendell – a textbook finish from the big No.9.

As mist descended, Seager fired wide at the far stick as Hungerford broke in search of the clincher.

Maidstone kept pushing, putting balls in the box, but Hungerford survived.

Maidstone United: Chris Lewington, Gavin Hoyte, Joe Ellul, George Elokobi, Noah Chesmain (Joan Luque 65), Sam Corne, Kreshnic Krasniqi, Justin Amaluzor (Christie Pattisson 65), George Porter (Ibz Olutade 81), Charlie Seaman, Scott Rendell. Subs not used: Ravan Constable, Zihni Temelci.