Maidstone 1st XI 2 Tunbridge Wells Men’s 1st XI 3
A TOP-of the-table clash between Tunbridge Wells and Maidstone in Kent & Sussex Regional Division One promised to be a closely fought battle and so it turned out.
After a nervous opening for both teams, Tunbridge Wells settled first and took the initiative with several incursions into the Maidstone penalty area without reward.
A quick Maidstone counter-attack after 10 minutes saw them awarded a penalty corner, which they duly dispatched into the bottom right of the goal to take the lead.
Unfazed, Tunbridge Wells continued to show patience in their build-up play and were duly rewarded for their hard work by Jack Garwood and Ben Brandt’s skilful interplay, finding Ben Allberry at the top of the Maidstone D.
The Player-Coach drilled the reverse shot into the bottom corner and Tunbridge Wells were level.
Allberry was the provider five minutes later when a quick counter-attack saw a neat one-two set up Brandt for an easy tap-in, leaving Wells 2-1 up at the half.
The second half started in much the same vein with Wells on the attack, and after a surging James Beck was fouled in the act of shooting, Allberry stepped up to convert the resulting penalty stroke into the roof of the net.
Maidstone rose to the challenge of being 3-1 down and continued to press high, trying to make life more difficult for the visiting team.
Maidstone’s persistence was eventually rewarded with a second goal to bring the score back to 3-2 mid-way through the half.
A nail-biting final ten minutes saw Wells repel several Maidstone attacks, goalkeeper James Harris putting in a man-of-the-match performance.
Alex Bull and Mitch Hawksbee each cleared the ball off the goalline, ensuring Wells hung on for a well-deserved victory.
With eight games to play, Tunbridge Wells are now in control of their own destiny in first place, with a two-point cushion over second-placed Maidstone.