Maidstone United inflicted Hampton’s heaviest ever Isthmian League defeat on Saturday, running out 7-2 winners in a superb match. Well, for home fans and neutrals anyway!
On their now famous 3G pitch, the Stones were definitely the better side, although I don’t think they were five goals better. Two goals in the closing stages added gloss to the scoreline, when I think 5-2 would have been a fairer reflection. Instead of depressing myself by doing a standard match report and reliving the horror, especially as this report is being written three days after the game, I thought I would instead report on the day in general. For highlights of the match, click here to be taken to United’s site. For the Hampton view on things, check out Rob Overfield’s report.
Myself and my soon to be five year old son Callum decided to travel on the coach with the players and fans for the first time. There were a couple of reasons for this; firstly, it was a reasonably short journey – about ninety minutes – so it was a good one to start with. Secondly, the parking at the ground is restricted, and not wanting to end up a mile from the ground, coach it was.
My first impressions of the Gallagher Stadium have not been changed since Saturday. I didn’t like it (and no the result doesn’t influence my opinion). Don’t get me wrong; the staff were great, as was the food (more on that in a while), but I couldn’t shake the thought that the place looked more like a Goals Soccer Centre than a football ground. The 3G pitch obviously added to that feeling, but it was the whole package that made it just seem, well, a bit temporary to me. There’s no doubt that the club are moving forward (assuming they’re allowed to) and they should be proud to be back home in Maidstone, but the place just seemed unfinished. Which it undoubtedly is. There is definitely scope to expand should they earn the right to be promoted, and maybe a second visit will have a different effect on me.
So, the food. Oh wow, the food! I was delighted to see three outlets serving food, with one being called The Pie Hut. This is where I decided to sate my prematch hunger with a chicken balti pie meal deal. The man serving asked if I wanted mushy peas and gravy with my pie and chips, to which my reply was “I’m from Yorkshire. Of course I do!” The whole meal came to £4.50, which I can honestly say was fantastic value when you consider the burgers were only a pound less. If you happen upon this corner of Kent on your travels this season, I heartily recommend partaking of one yourself.
And so onto proceedings on the pitch. It all started off so brightly for Hampton. Charlie Moone clipped a ball through to Dave Tarpey to open the scoring after just ninety seconds, slotting the ball past Lee Worgan with the outside of his right boot. A lovely finish to get the travelling faithful dreaming of being the first club to come and take full points away with them. And the Beavers had a couple of chances in the following ten minutes to double the advantage, but Moone and Tarpey were both denied by Worgan. Two goals in five minutes, from Zac Attwood and Alex Brown turned the game on its head before twenty minutes had elapsed. The signs were there that this was going to be a goal fest.
Dave Tarpey turned provider just past the half hour, playing in Joe Turner. The winger had plenty of time to size up his shot, and finished superbly to restore parity. At the other end, Hampton ‘keeper Rodney Chiweshe produced one of many excellent saves, keeping out Alex Flisher’s header. Minutes later, Chiweshe was at it again, saving Frannie Collin’s free kick brilliantly, before following up with another two superb stops in the ensuing scramble. Flisher did restore Maidstone’s lead six minutes before the break, drilling a low shot inside Chiweshe’s near post.
The second half started as the first half finished; with the home side on top. Attwood fired a shot wide, before Collin’s shot deflected off Alex Finney and past a wrong footed Chiweshe to put Stones 4-2 up. Lee Worgan came off his line quickly to smother the ball from first Tarpey and then Moone, before Chiweshe again pulled off a great save, denying Collin from close range. However, the home side were soon three goals in front as Jack Parkinson headed in from a corner.
To their credit, Hampton never looked like giving up, with first George Wells shooting over, and then Moone hitting an instant shot which Worgan saved well at his near post. The sixth goal was not long in coming though. Chiweshe saved from Collin, but the rebound fell at the feet of Michael Phillips who could hardly miss. And two minutes later, the rout was complete as Charley Robertson fired past Chiweshe. Hampton substitute Ben Harris came close to netting the game’s tenth goal, but his header flashed narrowly wide.
The referee brought the game to a close, and Hampton had conceded 7 (seven) for the first time in nigh on two decades. Amazingly, not only were nine goals scored, but they were scored by nine different players! I can’t remember ever hearing of more individuals scoring once each in a match, can you?