Victory for injury hit Brickies
|Peter Pitts reports from Bourne Park|
|Sittingbourne suffered another injury
blow just before the game when James
Campbell limped out of the pre match warm up.
This coupled with missing Jon Neal, who is some three weeks away from full fitness after suffering a hamstring injury, Mark Lovell who the manager doesn't want to rush back following his injury and of course Peter Sayer who is unlikely to play for sometime meant that the team lined up with just one substitute as a number of players were also unavailable through holidays etc.
Ricky Spiller was also sidelined with a facial injury.
Sittingbourne had two unlikely heroes in the shape of Toby Ashmore and Lee Friend.
Ashmore, who did a brilliant job on the right side of defence only occasionally featured last season, whilst Lee Friend kept the Brickies in
the game on a number of occasions with some brilliant shot stopping.
Friend is the reserve team keeper and was keeping goal because Kevin Fewell is away.
I wrote in the Non League Newspaper last Sunday that friendlies are not
usually affairs to get excited about however this game was different as it
had a bite about it from the off.
Maidstone had the better of a competitive first half and James Campbell was undoubtedly missed by the Brickies as the lack of height in defence showed up.
Mo Takaloo in particular missed some glaring chances, however, with the form that Friend displayed who knows even if they had been on target he may have saved them!!
The game was just 4 minutes old when Maidstone's Adam Hewitson headed wide following a Gary Kimble cross.
Ex Brickie Kimble has joined Maidstone after a short spell as manager of Tilbury.
The Brickies hit back and two minutes later Clint Gooding found Bradley Spice who also with the goal at his mercy fired wide.
Maidstone then really should have taken the lead when on 9 minutes the ball crashed against the crossbar but the Brickies defence reacted first and cleared the ball up field.
The end to end nature of the game continued as Sittingbourne won a free kick just outside the Maidstone area and Spice, in a shot reminiscent of the one that ended in a goal last Saturday against a Gillingham XI, forced a good diving save from Maidstone keeper Pat Mullin.
Takaloo had a great chance to put Maidstone ahead on 24 minutes when
hesitation by Paul Ainsworth set up a chance for the unmarked Maidstone
forward but Friend palmed the ball away with a great diving save.
Maidstone then won a number of corners which threatened to expose the lack of height in the Brickies defence. Takaloo was by far the most dangerous Maidstone forward and he fired wide on 32 minutes and headed over 6 minutes later.
Sittingbourne had been penned back during this period but on 41 minutes
Darren Hare chested the ball to Lee Browning but instead of passing to the
better placed Peter Taylor he elected to have a shot which sailed over the
Maidstone finished the half on top with Friend again coming to the rescue as he blocked another Takaloo effort and then right on half time blocked another effort this time from Simon Austin.
Maidstone made five second half changes and they were never the force in this half that they had been in the first, however, Friend again made a good block from Simon Austin after Bradley Sanderman had found the ex Chatham striker.
On 75 minutes a Maidstone corner was cleared up field to Bradley Spice who
was then scythed down just outside the Maidstone area, however, after the on the seat stuff of the first half this half was a lot tamer and just as I had
written in my notebook that the game had gone a bit flat up popped Lee
Browning to fire against a Maidstone post, the ball bounced straight out to
Clint Gooding who fired it back into the net and the Brickies had taken the
Maidstone were unable to respond to the goal and with a couple of minutes to go frustrtaion got the better of them as Jimmy Strouts crashed into Lee
Browning causing a mini fracas involving 16 players.
However, tempers soon calmed down and this most interesting of friendlies came to an end with a narrow victory for the Landlords over the tenants.
Manager Steve Lovell hopes to have a near full strength side available on
Saturday for the friendly at recently relegated Erith & Belvedere.
|Sittingbourne Squad: Lee Friend (GK),Toby
Ashmore, Joe Dowley, Peter Davis, Paul Ainsworth, Kieran Marsh, Lee
Browning, Clint Gooding, Darren Hare, Bradley Spice, Peter Taylor, Craig
Allen, Richard Smith (GK)
Maidstone United Squad: Pat Mullin (GK), Nathan Paul, Gary Kimble, Lloyd Hume, Mario Celaire, Ryan Royston, Jimmy Strouts, Sam Tydeman, Mo Takaloo, Simon Austin, Adam Hewitson Lynden Rowland, Gary Hemens, Lee Sperringe, Nick Hegley, Matt Nicholl, Bradley Sanderman, Richard Mannering (GK)