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Thamesmead Town 1-2 Maidstone United
Thamesmead Town 1-2 Maidstone United

It took goals from the experienced Adam Birchall and Frannie Collin to finally see off a determined Thamesmead at Bayliss Avenue, after the home side had led at the interval through Theo Fairweather-Johnson.

Thamesmead v Maidstone pic

The Stones, less than 36 hours after playing Yeovil Town in the FA Cup, rested the entire starting 11, but found places for 6 of the seven on the substitutes bench, with a number of promising Academy players making up the team.  And the youngsters certainly weren’t overawed, battling hard all over the pitch.

A strong blustery wind caused the first error of the evening as Will Thomas was deceived allowing Paul Vines to run down the right on 4 minutes.  Vines pulled an early ball into the middle where Theo Fairweather-Johnson was on hand to sweep a shot over the Maidstone bar.

Apart from this, the visitors dominated the exchanges in the first 20 minutes.  Adam Birchall had a shot parried by Arron Omand, with Jack Barry in close attendance to head away from Frannie Collin.  From the resulting corner, Steve Watt and Collin both had shots blocked by Marc Gordell and Barry respectively.

The chance of the half for Maidstone fell to Alex Akrofi on 10, as Watt’s long ball into the wind allowed the pacy forward to find space on the right side of the area, and before anyone in green could react, Akrofi crashed an unstoppable shot off the face of the bar.

Birchall had another effort well smothered by Omand as Maidstone’s passing game threatened to open up the Thamesmead defence, but the home side took the lead on 22; arguably at the time against the run of play.

A long clearing kick from Omand was flicked on by Vines into the path of Fairweather-Johnson who held off Thomas’ challenge and the attentions of the on-rushing Ben Bridle-Card to coolly slide the ball into an empty net.

Thamesmead were settled by the goal and started to work the ball well across the pitch, although goalmouth action was at a premium.  Barry hooked a shot over after Derek Duncan worked a corner well from the left, and Leslie Thompson tested the young Stones’ keeper, Ben Bridle-Card, with a 30 yarder that had to be gathered well.

The home side started the second period on the front foot, with Faria Hallam picking up the ball well inside the Maidstone half, but the full-back was always stretching as his lifted his half-volley over the bar.

Maidstone levelled 5 minutes into the half from a corner that Thamesmead failed to clear.  The ball was played back in from the right by Collin, through the area to Birchall, who had time to measure a deft shot into the right hand corner.

Both sides exchanged half-chances; Akrofi denied by good positioning from Gorbell, and Fairweather-Johnson allowed to wander across the front of the Stones’ defence, before firing a left foot shot wide.  Then Tyrus Gordon-Young and Bobby-Joe Taylor saw shots fly over the bar as the game moved from end-to-end.

Derek Duncan had a good chance on 69 with a freekick which was curled into the arms of Bridle-Card, before Maidstone sliced through the home side to take the lead two minutes later.  Watt’s assured clearance was picked up by Collin deep in his own half. Collin took the ball forward to halfway before playing in Birchall.  The opening goalscorer saw that Collin had continued his run and clipped a ball back into his path, with Collin calmly sliding a shot under Omand for 2-1.

Thamesmead continued to look dangerous from set pieces, as Gorbell arrived to glance a header from Lewis Dark’s corner wide of the right post, but otherwise the home side were having trouble penetrating an Academy defence well marshalled by club skipper Watt.

The Green’s efforts were hindered with the loss of Gorbell to a hamstring injury, leaving them with ten men for the last five minutes. But they nearly found an equaliser in stoppage time as Vines found space to meet a Duncan freekick, and his powerful header was well held by Bridle-Card.

THAMESMEAD TOWN: Arron Omand, Faria Hallam (Michael Aziaya 56), Jay Porter, Jose Figaro, Jack Barry, Marc Gorbell, Leslie Thompson (Tyrus Gordon-Young 56), Ibrahim Kargbo (Lewis Dark 75), Paul Vines, Derek Duncan, Theo Fairweather-Johnson.

Subs not used: Richard Butler, Andy Walker.

Goal: Theo Fairweather-Johnson 22.

Booking: Marc Gorbell 12.

MAIDSTONE UNITED: Ben Bridle-Card, Connor Hood, Reece Butler, Steve Ward, Will Thomas, Archie Wrigglesworth, Adam Birchall (Harris Rodgers 80), Jamie Twist (Tom Mackleden 72), Alex Akrofi, Frannie Collin, Bobby-Joe Taylor.

Subs not used: Craig Lawrence, James Sutherland, Sam Reed.

Goals: Adam Birchall 50, Frannie Collin 71

Attendance: 102
Referee: Mr Nolan Wilde
Assistants: Mr Ivan Gelov and Mr Jack Hobbs

Picture supplied by www.richardbrooks.photography