Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Maidstone United 3 v 0 Cray Wanderers

Tuesday 11th February 2014
Isthmian League Premier Division
James Whatman Way, Maidstone
Admission: £10.00
Programme: £2.00
Attendance: 1,292
Match Rating: 3

With the seemingly never-ending rain falling in southern England currently, with particularly heavy rain falling again this morning, it was no real surprise when my Crowborough’s home game, along with every other game in the Sussex League this evening, was called off. Fancying some football this evening, I made my way to Maidstone and a venue that would be unaffected by rainfall, thanks to the 3G surface at James Whatman Way.

If ever there was a home banker, this game would surely be it. Maidstone United went to the top of the division at the weekend, partly thanks to having played more games than most teams below them, and have taken 60 points from their 30 games played, with an unbeaten home record in the league, winning eight and drawing the rest of their 17 home games so far. It has been a disastrous season so far for Cray Wanderers, who sit rooted at the bottom of the table, with just 14 points from their 28 games, and are 12 points adrift of safety and have lost eight of their last nine league games – a win coming against Carshalton Athletic, with who Cray are currently level on points. When the two teams met back in September, Maidstone came away from Hayes Lane with a 0-5 victory.

On a cool but mercifully dry evening, the first half was open and surprisingly even, with Cray creating plenty of chances and could easily have opened the scoring. Maidstone had their chances too, and on 24 minutes they were awarded a penalty when Tom Mills was bundled over by former Charlton youngster Alex Stavrinou. However, Frannie Collin saw his shot come back off the post and was eventually cleared to safety. As the match passed the half hour mark, it was delayed for a quarter of an hour when the referee pulled up with a groin strain. An appeal over the tannoy for a qualified official was successful, with a person from the crowd taking over linesman's duties from and one of the linesman becoming the referee. When play finally resumed, both sides continued to create chances, but the game retained a surprising goalless scoreline at half time.

Into the second half and Maidstone finally took control of the game as they went on to dominate the half. They opened the scoring on 51 minutes. Kaiyne Woolery crossed the ball into the box, Collin and Zac Attwood couldn't get a shot on goal but the ball spilt across the goal to Alex Flisher who side footed into the net. The home side then had chance after chance after chance to put the game to bed, but the ball was repeatedly blazed high and/or wide of the goal when in very good positions. Cray still seemed to have a goal in them and one had the feeling that Maidstone might be made to pay for spurning so many chances. However, on 77 minutes, Maidstone created some breathing space with their second, when Collins did well to get a cross from the byline and Dan Parkinson tapped the ball home from a central position. In added on time at the end of the game, Maidstone were awarded their second penalty of the evening when Luke Rooney was brought down in the box by Jordan Bird. There then followed a somewhat unseemly debate between Rooney and Attwood about who would take the penalty. Attwood finally got his way, and he hit the penalty over the keeper's dive to his right. 3-0 was how it ended, and although it was a deserved scoreline for the homeside and in fact could have been more emphatic, Cray could take plenty of positives from this game. They have a mountain to climb to escape relegation, however with similar performances to tonight's in the games to come, they may have a chance of survival.

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