Maidstone Mens 1s
Ashford (Kent) 1
|Date||Saturday 3rd December|
|Scorers||Mark Rimmer, James Christmas, Iain Brine|
Last Gasp Winner Sinks Maidstone
Maidstone lost out in a seven goal thriller to local rivals Ashford in their Southern Premier 2 clash.
A large crowd gathered for this much anticipated clash between two of the best sides in Kent. After an awkward 20 minute delay for the start of the game Maidstone started slowly and the defence were quickly called into action to stave off a couple of early Ashford attacks. After this initial stutter Maidstone improved and though Ashford had the majority of the possession Maidstone looked more threatening, several good chances and a short corner going to waste. At times Ashford looked better than their mid-table league placing would suggest and almost punished Maidstone for pushing too far forward. A counter attack down their left carved the Maidstone defence open but as the open goal loomed a diving Chris Brinn – who had belied his age to sprint back the length of the pitch – managed to get his stick on the ball to save the goal. Disappointingly Ashford were soon able to take the lead after a run of three short corners led to the game’s first goal. With half time quickly approaching Maidstone wasted no time in drawing level after a trademark Mark Rimmer deflection from a well delivered Will Hutchins cross.
The second half started and Maidstone absolutely dominated the next 20 minutes of hockey, controlling possession of the ball and moving Ashford around. The away side suddenly looked to be desperately trying to hold on for the draw. Even after Maidstone Captain Nick Leatherbarrow took a stick to the face, requiring an immediate trip to hospital Maidstone looked in control. They had several good chances to put the game away but were only able to score once in this period, James Christmas finishing off a break away move tapping in from two yards. As the game seemed to be heading Maidstone’s way a rare Ashford attack somehow pierced the Maidstone defence and resulted in a penalty stroke. Ashford dispatched this and were suddenly back in the game and Maidstone started to look shaken. With the tempo of the game ever increasing it was now Ashford who looked the most likely victors and were again able to take the lead. Maidstone were now staring down the barrel and as they pushed to get another equaliser were abruptly reduced to 10 men as a naïve Joe Martin received a yellow card from the bench. With 5 minutes left Ashford should have been home and dry but Maidstone retained their determination to score and a good interception in the middle of the pitch gave them back possession. Jonathan Cooper’s surging run from deep gave him enough space to take the ball into the D and win a Maidstone short corner. Iain Brine duly dispatched this with a low drag flick and the home support erupted into cheers. In all the euphoria Maidstone switched off just 30 seconds too early and after failing to clear the ball sufficiently Ashford were left the space to attack through the middle. Despite a lucky deflection Maidstone failed to control their own D and Ashford were able to put the ball in the net for a thrilling 4-3 victory.