Maidstone United 1 Beckenham Town 1 - Hume: Expect more twists and turns

Saturday 25th March 2006

Leroy Huggins 78

Ellis Green 58

Stephen McCartney reports from Bourne Park
Kentish Observer League Premier Division

The destination of this season’s Kentish Observer League title hangs in the balance courtesy of Leroy Huggins’ late leveller.

The destination of this season’s Kentish Observer League title hangs in the balance courtesy of Leroy Huggins’ late leveller.The much-travelled striker, who signed from Ryman League neighbours Tonbridge Angels earlier in the week, came off the substitutes bench to spark life into his new side and to open his Maidstone United goalscoring account, adding to the six goals he netted for Tony Dolby’s side.

Today’s crowd of 573 was the highest crowd to watch a Kent League match this season, but they were disappointed watching a dour first half.

But the majority of the crowd were celebrating with 12 minutes left on the clock when two former Beckenham Town players played a key role in the Stones’ equaliser.

Mario Celiare (flicking on Jimmy Strouts' ball) played in Huggins, who slotted home past Rob Tolfrey inside the near post with a clinical finish.

However, the first half failed to live up to expectations but Stones’ fans were left stunned 13 minutes into the second half when Ellis Green netted his thirteenth goal of the season, driving a right-footed shot from 18-yards, which crept inside the near post.

Lyndon Rowland had the game’s first chance after seven minutes when he used his strength to get through the Beckenham defence but his shot was palmed out for a corner by Tolfrey.

Beckenham Town’s player-manager Gavin Rose, who decided to watch the game from his technical area, explained why his side played the long-ball game, instead of their usual “total-football.”

The 29-year-old said: “It wasn’t necessary tactical but we’ve ended up getting beat up a couple of times when we’ve played Maidstone.

“Unfortunately especially down here we couldn’t dictate how the game would go. It’s their home ground, they know the area of the pitch a bit more, they could get around it.

“So the boys played a little bit more percentage, their not happy playing that way but at this stage of the season the importance of getting a result came into fruition a little bit more.”

Rowland, meanwhile, should have scored his 24th goal of the season after 28 minutes, but his powerful header found the grateful arms of Tolfrey following Sam Tydeman’s corner.

Beckenham’s only first half chance came five minutes later when Ryan Martin cut their second corner to an unmarked Green, whose cross found top-scorer Paul Vines - via Ryan Royston’s head - but the prolific striker skied his volley.

Another chance came from a Tydeman corner early in the second half but Celiare directed his header wide.

Former Ramsgate striker, Mo Takaloo, with 36 goals to his name this season, had a quiet game by his standards, and his only chance came after 52 minutes, firing just wide of the left upright from 20-yards.

Then midfielder Strouts was guilty of missing a good chance when he headed wide from eight yards following Jason Barton’s cross from the right.

And when Green broke the deadlock, most of Bourne Park was left stunned, apart from the small band of Beckenham followers.

Green’s goal sent Beckenham to the top of the table but the introductions of Huggins and Lee Sperring brought the Stones back into life and ultimately back to the summit.

And the Stones should have grabbed the winner following Huggins’ timely equaliser.

Sperring’s low shot was going to find the bottom far corner but the ball came off Rowland, who failed to find the net, whilst standing beside the left upright.

Tolfrey made two saves from Huggins and Rowland inside five minutes of stoppage time but both sides had to settle for a point and the title race will surely go down to the wire - instead of being settled today.

“I’m disappointed because I felt it was a game we could actually go on and win,” said Maidstone manager Lloyd Hume after the game.

“I think any neutral fan here today would have said we had the lions share of possession and lion share of chances today.

“It was one of them days that we just didn’t look like we were going to score so I was very grateful when Leroy Huggins, our new signing, came on and got us a goal.”

So which one of these sides will go on and win the title?

“I said openly in the press all week and to everyone involved with the club that there will be more twists and turns before the end of the season,” said Hume.

“Beckenham have got some tough games away at Erith & Belvedere and Herne Bay and we’ve go some tough games so whilst I’m disappointed not to win I don’t think the league will be won or lost here today.”

His opposite number, Rose added: “We came here today to get three points. We’re quite disappointed because we went ahead and within the last ten minutes they scored but on the balance of play, if I’m being honest, it was probably a fair result.”

Beckenham can retain top spot - on a superior goal difference - if they win at Erith Town on Monday night.

“Mathematically we’re in pole position but we’ve got some tricky games coming up as well,” said Rose. “We’ve both slipped up in the last two-three weeks so anything can happen.”

Maidstone United: Pat Mullin, Aaron Lacy, Craig Roser, Jason Barton, Mario Celaire, Ryan Royston (Leroy Huggins 65), Jimmy Strouts, Sam Tydeman, Mo Takaloo (Lee Sperring 69), Lyndon Rowland, Nathan Paul (Scott Lindsey 77).
Subs: Nick Hegley, Richard Mannerings.

Beckenham Town: Rob Tolfrey, Jake Daniels, Cedric Meeko, Peter Adeniyi, Tony Sinclair, Asher Hudson, Ellis Green, Ohran Stewart, Paul Vines (Dean Lodge 90), Junior Kadi, Ryan Martin (Daniel Morris 83).
Subs: Gavin Rose, Jamie Cheeseman, Ali Kzeyu.

Attendance: 573
Referee: Mr M Rodgers
Assistants: Mr M Huggins & Mr D Hooker