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Maidstone United 4-2 Hemel Hempstead Town

Vanarama National League South // Saturday 14 August // Attendance: 1,805 // Match Report by Ruth Tunnell

The Stones couldn’t have wished for a better opening day of the season as they twice came from behind to beat Hemel Hempstead Town. After a relatively quiet first half, the game burst into life early in the second half with three goals inside five minutes as Maidstone got better and better as the game went on.

It was the Tudors who dominated the opening stages as Maidstone struggled to get into their rhythm early on. With six minutes gone, James Dobson’s corner reached the unmarked Nathan Bertram-Cooper but his header was weak and it went straight at Tom Hadler.

Josh Castiglione was seeing quite a bit of the ball down the right and he wastefully shot wide when he had options in the middle. Hadler was then called into action again when he had to parry Samir Curruthuers’ effort from just outside the box. Unfortunately for Curruthers he appeared to sustain a hamstring injury during the process and his afternoon ended shortly afterwards.

It wasn’t until 29 minutes had gone that Maidstone had their first notable attempt on goal. Roarie Deacon turned inside the box and his low shot took a nick as it went just wide of the right post.

But not long after this, Hemel took the lead. Once again, Castiglione found space down the right and he squared the ball into the middle where the lunging Zac Robinson, a late replacement for the injured Dejon Noel-Williams, hit the ball high into the net.

With the half time whistle imminent, the Tudors came within inches of doubling their lead. Gavin Hoyte seemed to be hard done by to concede a free-kick which Dobson curled against the base of the post.

Then on 51 minutes, the Stones equalised. Joan Luque expertly turned his defender inside out to create space before he riffled the ball past Nick Hayes in the Hemel goal.

But Maidstone got caught out as the Tudors poured forwards in search of a quick riposte. Ky Marsh-Brown ran forwards and he tried his luck from distance leading to the ball nestling in the bottom left corner of the net.

The Stones didn’t let this dampen their spirits though and they soon levelled for the second time in the afternoon on 55 minutes. Luque latched onto a long ball forwards down the left and dispatched a confident finish for his second of the afternoon.

Hadler had to be alert to stop a near post shot from Jonathan Lacey with his feet before Maidstone started to increase the pressure as the second half progressed. Regan Booty’s free-kick was met by Jerome Binnom-Williams who headed wide and then on 76 minutes, the Stones took the lead for the first time in the match. Hemel couldn’t clear their lines and Booty’s drive took a deflection which sent Hayes diving the wrong way as it went past him.

Substitute Alfie Cerulli tested Hadler with a curling effort but the Maidstone keeper made a fine flying one handed save and then the Stones gave themselves some breathing space with a decent goal. Raphe Brown started the move by winning the ball in midfield and he released substitute Christie Pattisson who expertly sprinted forwards before calmly beating Hayes to round off a pleasing start to the season for the Stones.

Maidstone United: Joan Luque 51, 55, Regan Booty 76, Christie Pattison 82

Hemel Hempstead Town: Zac Robinson 36, Ky Marsh-Brown 52

Maidstone United: 1. Tom Hadler, 2. Gavin Hoyte, 3. George Elokobi,4. Jerome Binnom-Williams, 6. Raphe Brown, 20. Roarie Deacon, 16. Jake Gallagher, 14. Dominic Odusanya, 15. Regan Booty (7. Michael Phillips 89), 11. Joan Luque (19. Tushaun Walters 81), 9. Alfie Pavey (17. Christie Pattison 65). Subs not used: 5. Taylor Curran, 13. Billy Johnson.

Hemel Hempstead Town: 1. Nick Haynes, 2. Gus Scott-Morris, 3. Jack Williams, 4. Kyle Ajayi, 5. Nathan Bertram-Cooper (14. Alfie Cerulli 76), 6. Cole Kpekawa, 7. Samir Curruthuers (12. Ky Marsh-Brown 25), 8. Josh Castiglione, 10. Jonathan Lacey, 15. Zac Robinson, 11. James Dobson. Subs not used: 9. Dejon Noel-Williams, 16. Chris Paul, 17. Lewis Patching.