Vanarama National League South // Saturday 9 October // Attendance: 2,382
Maidstone lost their unbeaten record in National South after hitting the woodwork three times with the game goalless.
They went down 2-0 to Eastbourne Borough in front of the biggest gate of the season at the Gallagher Stadium – 2,382.
The visitors scored twice in six second-half minutes, through James Hammond and Dominic Hutchinson, to send United packing to a first league defeat.
Alfie Pavey replaced the suspended Joan Luque and Raphe Brown took Taylor Curran’s place in central defence as Maidstone made two changes from last weekend’s FA Cup exit.
The Stones controlled a goalless first half, enjoying lots of possession, and hitting the woodwork three times in a matter of minutes.
Lee Worgan, returning to the club he served with such distinction over five years, saw his goal live a charmed life as, first, Roarie Deacon saw a cracking 25-yard drive hit the underside of the bar and bounce down on to the line.
Stones TV replays showed it definitely wasn’t over.
That came in the 26th minute and seconds later, Sam Corne broke into the box and hit the bar from about eight yards out.
Eastbourne survived again in the 33rd minute when Deacon played in Christie Pattisson, whose shot hit the outside of the post.
Deacon and Pavey also fired over from distance while Worgan made comfortable saves from George Elokobi’s header and Pattisson’s 20-yard strike.
Eastbourne offered little in attack but might have led when former Gills winger Chris Whelpdale flashed a near-post header wide from a corner.
There was a lot of love for Worgan as he went up to the Genco Stand to keep goal for the second half.
And why wouldn’t there be after two promotions, 289 appearances and an unbroken sequence of 247 league matches for the club?
Maidstone had the ball in his net but the flag was already up for offside, and the hosts fell behind in the 55th minute.
It came from a free-kick – something of an Achilles heel for Hakan Hayrettin’s side this season – with Hammond’s low strike from 25 yards nestling in the far corner via a slight deflection.
The visitors doubled their lead six minutes later following a break down the right, with Hutchinson ramming the ball through Tom Hadler’s legs at his near post.
Maidstone responded with a double change – Jack Barham and Dominic Odusanya on for Pattisson and Regan Booty – but looked shellshocked.
They had enough of the ball, with Eastbourne happy to sit on the lead, but broke down all too regularly and looked vulnerable to counter-attacks.
Pavey worked Worgan with a header from Gavin Hoyte’s cross as Maidstone huffed and puffed but showed no real sign of scoring.
Worgan suffered a facial injury towards the end, leading to a whopping 10 minutes of added time.
Four of them were up by the time he was back on his feet and the game finished well after 5pm.
The game was in the 12th minute of injury time when Barham met Jermaine McGlashan’s cut-back, with the Eastbourne defence throwing themselves in the way of his shot.
Referee Michael Ryan finally called time after 16 added minutes.
Maidstone United: Tom Hadler, Gavin Hoyte, Raphe Brown, George Elokobi, Jerome Binnom-Williams, Jake Gallagher (Jermaine McGlashan 78), Regan Booty (Dominic Odusanya 62), Sam Corne, Roarie Deacon, Christie Pattisson (Jack Barham 62), Alfie Pavey. Subs not used: Taylor Curran, Billy Johnson.