The Non-League Football Paper


- By Ruth Pettifer STAR MAN: Josh Shonibare (Maidstone) ATT: 2,070 ENTERTAINM­ENT: REFEREE: Jason Richardson

BOTTOM club Maidstone United registered only their second point in 13 matches as they held in-form Gateshead to a draw at the Gallagher Stadium.

An unfortunat­e own goal from George Fowler put the Heed in front on 19 minutes, but the Stones showed spirit to snatch a point thanks to Josh Shonibare’s header early in the second half.

Mike Williamson’s Heed came into this game third in the form table, with the Stones rooted to the bottom, but this wasn’t apparent as an even game ensued.

Indeed, it was the Stones who showed first and they were unfortunat­e not to take an early lead. Shamar Lawson’s shot on the turn from outside the area crashed off the underside of the bar, then Jack Barham’s follow-up was ruled out for offside.

But it was Gateshead who broke the deadlock in rather fortunate circumstan­ces when Greg Olley got in behind Jerome Binnom-Williams and his low ball into the six yard box was unwittingl­y turned in by the unfortunat­e Fowler who was stooping to try and head the ball clear.

“We have always said to our players, you have to try and defend those balls otherwise you will be in trouble with the gaffer,” said sympatheti­c Maidstone boss George Elokobi. “As the last line of defence, you have to put your body on the line. I am really, really sorry to see that the ball went in. I know how good a player George Fowler is, he has been incredible for me.”

The Stones were unfortunat­e not to level on 39 minutes when a corner from Roarie Deacon was met by James Alabi but keeper Filip Marschall somehow scrambled his header onto the post.

But they didn’t have to wait long for the equaliser they craved. Three minutes after the restart, a good move saw Deacon play the ball out to Binnom-Williams who stood up an enticing cross and Derby County loanee Shonibare squeezed a header past Marschall.

Fowler then headed a Deacon free-kick just wide as both sides went all out for victory, but, as the game opened up, the Heed also went close on 84 minutes – Mark Marshall winning the ball back and quickly working to substitute Will

Harris but he wastefully shot straight at Dan Barden.

“The general feeling at the moment is that we are disappoint­ed,” said Heed boss Williamson with his side a point clear of the relegation places.

“We wanted a better performanc­e than that, we didn’t have as much energy as we normally do or move the ball as well as we normally do. It was a disappoint­ing day but one we are going to learn a lot from.” ★★★★★

 ?? PICTURE: Steve Terrell ?? WE’RE LEVEL! Josh Shonibare slots home Maidstone’s equaliser
PICTURE: Steve Terrell WE’RE LEVEL! Josh Shonibare slots home Maidstone’s equaliser

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