The Non-League Football Paper
SHONI IS A STONES SAVIOUR
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.” ★★★★★