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Maidstone United 2
Corne (41' pen)
0 Tonbridge Angels

Own goal and penalty leave Angels pointless

Tonbridge travelled to Maidstone on New Year’s Day for the return fixture of the recent Boxing Day clash which ended 1-1. Two changes for the Angels saw new loanee signing Paris Lock come straight in to replace Sean Shields who wasn’t included due to a recurring injury. Scott Wagstaff returned after missing the home game due to injury.

The XI: Henly, Hinds, Sutcliffe, Lyons-Foster, Meade, Higgs, Wagstaff, Gard, Dabre, Greenidge, Lock.

Maidstone kicked off the game and in early moments were looking to fire in crosses, but Henly was quick to capture the attempts on every occasion. Once the game settled, Tonbridge started to cause trouble in the opposition half, winning free kicks in advanced areas which unfortunately didn’t result in anything more than half chances. 

Fresh loan signing Paris Lock, who was announced prior to kick off, showed promising signs throughout his debut including an effort he fired towards the bottom left corner on 16 minutes having twisted and turned on the edge of Maidstone’s box to create the space for the shot. Covolan, the opposition keeper, was forced to make a strong save down to his right to deny an opener.

A fairly even period followed including corners for both sides and wayward shots, but the deadlock was broken just over the half an hour mark when a cross from the Maidstone left was put into the infamous ‘corridor of uncertainty’ and Henly coming to collect was beaten to the ball by Kodi Lyons-Foster who unluckily headed into his own net.

Maidstone held the momentum from their goal and having progressed down the right wing, Striker Abraham found Berkeley-Agyepong who popped a shot at the Angels goal and despite diving to his right, Henly was able to keep it out with his left leg which he stuck out well.

Shortly after this hopeful moment for the hosts, they found themselves in another fortunate position as the referee awarded a penalty for a trip just inside the box. Sam Corne scored the spot kick and doubled Maidstone’s lead before the break. 

Out for the second period, Tonbridge felt a wrath of pressure as they were pinned back by Maidstone for the early minutes of the half. Once Angels eased back into the game having escaped further punishment, they were forced to make attacking changes in the shape of Mampolo for Higgs and Yeboah for Lock. 

A number of crosses were delivered and pressure on the opposition defence helped the Angels win freekicks in progressive areas, but nothing was coming to fruition. Jernade Meade was a bright spark when Tonbridge played out from the back, shimmying through Maidstone’s midfield and firing balls down the flanks. 

Lewis Gard delivered numerous crosses which Angels attackers struggled to meet, and Jordan Greenidge worked hard to be a nuisance in the final third, at times holding the ball and on occasion releasing shots on goal.  

Despite their best efforts, Tonbridge couldn’t force a Maidstone mistake and the hosts were victorious in the derby. 

Jay Saunders said after the game “It’s a tough one to take, I don’t think we were necessarily at our best. You have to give Maidstone credit; they’ve shut us out. In the first half at times, we had spells where we opened them up, but it wasn’t enough.”

Published Monday 1st January 2024 (last updated Tuesday 2nd January 2024)