Maidstone United v Tonbridge Angels – January 2nd 2022 – The Gallagher Stadium

For my first game of 2022, I decided to revisit Maidstone United’s Gallagher Stadium for the Vanorama National League South fixture between the home team and their local rivals, Tonbridge Angels.

North End standing for home and away fans.

The Gallagher Stadium is a modern ground, opened as recently as 2012, with a large main stand, offering 750 seats and a newly added large covered standing terrace behind the goal at the North end which allows for 1768 fans. The total capacity at the ground is 4,200. The West (river) side of the ground remains undeveloped. Facilities are of a high standard with club shop, clubhouse, bar and food and refreshment stands tucked away behind the South stand. The ground also boasts a high quality 3G pitch.

National League South table (courtesy of http://www.skysports.com) prior to kick off.

Maidstone United have won five out of their six previous fixtures, to lift themselves to second in the table, as they bid to reach the National League, which they last occupied between 2016 and 2019. Tonbridge Angels find themselves uncomfortably close to the relegation place in the National League South, and will be keen to secure a revenge victory for a narrow 0-1 home defeat to Maidstone United, only a week ago in the Boxing Day fixture. Tonbridge secured promotion to this league in 2019.

Maidstone United’s electronic scoreboard.

Maidstone United are managed by Hakan Hayrettin, who played professionally for Wycombe Wanderers and Cambridge United. Hayrettin came under pressure earlier in the season after an inconsistent patch, which saw Maidstone drop from the play off places, but recent form has seen him become a firm favourite with home fans, who appreciate his honest approach to the game and obvious passion for their club. Maidstone’s top scorer this season is former Barcelona academy winger, Juan Luque, with 9 league goals from 15 matches.

Spitfire Lounge and turnstile entrance.

Tonbridge Angels are managed by Steve Mckimm, previously coach at Sutton United and who has been in post since 2015, having taken the side out of the Isthmian League, via the play offs, in 2019. Although Tonbridge lack points this season, their goal difference of just -8, coming into the game, reflects their defensive strengths. They lack goals this season.

Manchett Facilities (Main) Stand
View to the South end stand.

The team were announced at 2.00 pm and Maidstone’s team showed that Phillips and Brown had come into the team to replace Corne and McGlashan who had picked up injuries in training.

Maidstone United team
(Courtesy of club Twitter account)
Tonbridge Angels side
(Courtesy of Club Twitter account)
Tonbridge Angels warm up
Maidstone United warm up

As the players came out to warm up I was stood next to the pitch and was really surprised when one of the players, Jerome Binnom-Williams, came over and wished me a happy new year and asked how my Christmas had gone before talking about his holiday period. I saw the rest of the team were doing the same with other fans alongside the pitch. It felt like a really positive move and showed this team really see the fans as part of their success.

Home and Away fans

There was a crowd of 3116 in for the match, which is an exceptional figure for the National League South. The atmosphere was incredible with the Maidstone and Tonbridge fans singing loudly to each other, throughout the game.

Teams come out for kick off.
Tonbridge in the all blue strip and Maidstone in gold and black.

The game started with Maidstone United and Tonbridge Angels both creating clear cut chances. The rain moved from being light to being torrential, which made the passing play more difficult.

1-0

On 36 minutes, Maidstone’s Dominic Odusanya let fly and put the ball high past the Tonbridge keeper, to put Maidstone United 1-0 ahead.

With a minute to go before half time, Maidstone United increased the gap to 2-0 when Juan Luque stabbed the ball home to send the home fans wild.

2-0

The second half saw Tonbridge battle to come back into the match and Maidstone counter attacking dangerously. The 3G surface was skiddy after the heavy rain and tackling was difficult.

Tonbridge had chances to score which they failed to capitalise on and Maidstone also seemed to find it difficult to get the ball in the net, despite some good opportunities.

Tonbridge Angel’s Loft leaves the pitch after his red card.

With just four minutes left, Tonbridge Angel’s Doug Loft was dismissed, with a straight red for a bad tackle.

The managers feel the pressure, in this crucial derby game.

At the final whistle the sides had a bit of pushing and shoving, before both sets of players went to their fans and applauded their exceptional support, on a wet Bank Holiday weekend Sunday.

Some ill feeling at the final whistle.

7 Comments Add yours

  1. philthesnapper says:

    Looked as if the weather was terrible in the first half. Did you stay out in it?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. mattbritt69 says:

      Yes… was soaked!!

      Like

  2. footballwritingblog says:

    JBW was at Barnet last season, think he’s found his level though this season to be fair

    Liked by 1 person

    1. mattbritt69 says:

      He was on the bench yesterday.

      Like

  3. John Sawh says:

    Spicy and spikey start to 2022!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. mattbritt69 says:

      It was a good match. The rain though?

      Like

  4. John Sawh says:

    Rain and freezing temperatures ahead so best wrap up and a water bottle 🙃🙂

    Like

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