Saturday 22 August 2018 // National League // Attendance: 807 // Report by Ruth Tunnell
After six defeats in a row, the Stones put the brakes on a dreadful run of results as a penalty from Blair Turgott five minutes into stoppage time gave them the victory away at fellow strugglers Braintree Town.
With five new signings joining Maidstone United yesterday it was no surprise that the Stones squad had a very different appearance to the last match against Harrogate Town. Harry Wheeler handed a debut to Laurie Wilson, Scott Durojaiye and Jack Doyle and bolstered the defence by inserting Simon Walton between Will de Havilland and Alex Finney as Maidstone lined up with a back five. And it was Doyle in particular, who impressed in the first half as he showed the characteristics of an old fashioned defender who wasn’t afraid to slide in to win the ball in a well timed manner.
Maidstone and Braintree were the two lowest scoring sides in the division going into this match and so it perhaps wasn’t a surprise that there wasn’t an excess of goal scoring opportunities in the first half. Iron did create two chances in quick succession though. The first came when Cameron James lifted the ball into the box and Reece Grant did well to get his header to the cross only for the ball to drop over the bar. Then a corner from Billy Crook picked out the unmarked Ricky Gabriel and he headed straight at Lee Worgan.
For the Stones, their only chance of the half came via a quick break. A rejuvenated Jack Paxman showed good skill to make the room for an excellent ball forwards for Blair Turgott to chase. Turgott cut inside and shot at the near post and Ben Killip made sure the ball went behind for a corner.
In the early moments after half time, Paxman and Turgott combined well again. This time, Paxman slipped the ball into the area to Turgott who was moving towards the six yard box and his shot was blocked.
As the second period got going, it was the home side who started to look the more threatening. On 53 minutes, Mo Sogaf managed to get in on goal. Worgan was smartly off his line though and he did well to make the block and get back up after he was clearly caught by Sogaf’s studs as the Braintree striker tried to reach the ball.
And it wasn’t long before Worgan was called into action again. This time a free-kick was pumped into the box and was headed goalwards by James but Worgan did well to make a one-handed stop.
But Maidstone soon had a decent opportunity of their own. Substitute Jake Cassidy, who had replaced Shamir Mullings at the break after Mullings had been booked in the first half and was on his final warning, did well to exchange passes with Turgott. However, when the ball came back to Cassidy, the on-loan striker lent back and fired the ball over the bar from just inside the box.
Mohamed Bettamer then had a shot from distance which threatened to creep into the left side of the net. Worgan was alert to the danger though, and he made a fine low save to push the ball away from goal.
It had looked like the final chance of the match was going to fall to the home side. With six minutes remaining, Wilson was unable to stop Justin Amaluzar turning and finding himself in on goal. Just as Amaluzar went to shoot, Wilson got back and he made a superb tackle to deny the Braintree striker.
But with the game deep in stoppage time, Doyle sent the ball into the box. Turgott turned his back to the ball and might have got a nudge in the back as he went down leading to the referee, Mr Smith, pointing straight to the penalty spot. Lyle Della-Verde was booked for his protests and Turgott confidently stepped up to send Killip the wrong way to give Maidstone their first win in seven matches.
Maidstone United: Blair Turgott 90+5 (pen)
Braintree Town: 21. Ben Killip, 2. Jon Muleba, 17. Joe Ellul, 29. Dave Nieskins, 26. Ricky Gabriel, 25. Reece Grant (14. Lyle Della-Verde 80), 8. Billy Crook, 28. Cameron James, 27. Mo Sogaf (7. Luke Allen 84), 10. Mohamed Bettamer, 30. Justin Amaluzar. Subs not used: 11. Christie Pattison, 5. Michael Clark, 19. Danny Rowe.
Maidstone United: 1. Lee Worgan, 25. Laurie Wilson, 5. Will De Havilland, 20. Simon Walton, 6. Alex Finney, 26. Jack Doyle, 17. Scott Durojaiye (22. Michael Phillips 58), 8. Stuart Lewis, 10. Jack Paxman (27. Norman Wabo 81), 15. Shamir Mullings (24. Jake Cassidy 45), 11. Blair Turgott. Subs not used: 14. Jamar Loza, 16. Seth Nana Twumasi.