It was a freezing cold January day, when I brought my youngest son to watch Maidstone United play in the National League South against Oxford City. The Gallagher Stadium is a modern ground and is situated right up against the River Medway. The stand behind the goal, in the picture above, was a new addition in this season, providing a substantial standing area. This has two sections, one being the site for away fans and the other for home fans and it has really added some noise and atmosphere, since my previous visits to watch Maidstone.
At the other end of the ground is a smaller stand which, behind it, hides the club shop and refreshment stands (including a dedicated sweet shop – a unique feature in the National league, I believe). There is a huge main stand and clubhouse at this very well resourced club. The attendance chart from the matchday programme, shows that Maidstone, with an average gate of 1864 per game, had the second highest fan base in the league, just behind Dulwich Hamlet.
The league table showed in this season, which ended up, just eight weeks later, being cancelled from record, due to Coronavirus, that Maidstone in eighth place, were just one place outside the play-offs. Oxford City, despite having the second lowest fan base in the league, were a respectable 13th.
The pre match talk was positive, with Maidstone Head Coach, Hakan Hayrettin, suggesting his team “would roll up their sleeves and give it a right good go” in his programme notes.
The game was close and played at a quick tempo with some tough challenges between both sides. The cold weather was like ice and my son and I left our seat in the stand as we wanted to walk and stay warm. We also went into the shop and bought a Maidstone United Hat and Scarf!
The 12 or 13 travelling Oxford fans made a big noise and tried to out cheer the Stones faithful, who were bolstered themselves by their Maidstone drummer.
Justin Amaluzor scored the only goal of the game to secure a win for Maidstone with a headed finish in the 59th minute. It followed close on from a chance where an Oxford defender had taken out Amaluzor as he looked to be through on goal, which had only resulted in a yellow card. There had also been a Maidstone effort cleared off the line.
Oxford played well throughout the match and it was hard fought but Maidstone just edged it, to secure a 1-0 win and to keep the pressure on the play off race.
Maidstone United’s Tv channel, “Stones TV”, has this link to their own extended highlights of the game: