Nick Grimes notched his third goal of the campaign to ensure the Peacocks shared the spoils on their first ever visit to the Gallagher Stadium. My disappointment at not being able to travel to Kent due to illness was partially alleviated by an excellent result for Town against a full time outfit just down from the National League and based on what unfolded on the live stream there is no disputing a point is the least the visitors deserved.
The Peacocks showed four changes from the game against St Albans two days previously, with Ross Stearn, Nick McCootie and Lee Lucas reverting to the bench while Joe Guest was unavailable. In came Lloyd James, Nat Jarvis and the returning Ollie Chamberlain while Callum Dolman enjoyed a fine debut in midfield. The early exchanges saw both sides feel their way in with corners for both along with some overhit long balls before Town posted what turned out to be their best effort of the half when good work from Dylan Morgan saw the ball run loose to James who flashed a 20 yard strike just wide.
Both sides continued to find opportunities hard to come by as the half progressed. Town keeper Dan Lavercombe was proving a safe pair of hands as he fielded a cross from Chi Ezennolim and then easily held a free kick from Sam Corne while Morgan’s set piece struck the wall at the opposite end before he chanced his arm from the halfway line following a break from a Maidstone corner, however his attempt sailed harmlessly over.
The Stones found another gear in the final 15 minutes of the opening period as they searched for a breakthrough. Ezennolim and Liam Sole linked up well down the left in one threatening foray while Devonte Aransibia’s cross deflected into the arms of Lavercombe before another Aransibia cross found Bivesh Gurung who turned to see his strike hit a defender and end up in Lavercombe’s arms. The Town defence were coping until the 38th minute when the powerful Levi Amantchi, a summer signing from Brackley Town, received a long ball inside the box and brushed off Grimes to gain space and fire past Lavercombe into the left-hand corner from 10 yards to give Maidstone the advantage.
A strong run from Ezennolim saw his cross cleared as far as Aransibia who shot high and wide as the hosts ended the first half on top and Town knew they had work to do after the break. Stearn took over from Zac Smith when play resumed after the Town No 16 had suffered a twinge during the first half but initially it was the Stones who carried on as they had left off. Amantchi’s volley from an Aransibia cross deflected for a corner before Aransibia also had an effort blocked after George Fowler had flicked on.
Gradually though the Peacocks responded. James fed Morgan who advanced, only to see his strike hit teammate Stearn and travel wide before a golden chance came and went with 20 minutes remaining. Marcus Day patiently bided his time on the left before getting the ball across, Stearn missed his connection, but Chamberlain was there at the back stick to prod wide off the outside of the post when he would have hoped to do better. A double substitution for Town soon followed, with Day and Jarvis making way for Dave Sims-Burgess and McCootie. The Peacocks were now having the bulk of possession, with Dolman, justifiably winning the Town Man of the Match award, doing well to find Cam Evans out wide but frustratingly his cross sailed out for a throw.
Was that missed chance earlier going to prove costly? Thankfully not. Maidstone were reduced to ten men six minutes from time when Razzaq Coleman De-Graft was shown a straight red card for a high challenge on Chamberlain out on the left and when James floated the free kick into the middle, McCootie and a defender went to challenge for the ball which eluded them to reach Grimes who nicked in to slot past Lucas Covolan for the equaliser with four minutes remaining.
Nine minutes of stoppage time failed to produce a clear winner and although Town had more of the ball, it was the Stones who came closest three minutes in when a marauding run from Ezennolim gave Sole a shooting chance, but Lavercombe did what was necessary as he saved the strike at his post with the ball eventually cleared. Dolman eyed glory for Town when he met the ball on the edge of the box, but his shot went wayward, and a late corner came to nothing while a tame attempt from Aransibia concluded the contest at the other end. A creditable point for the Peacocks which sees them lie in 6th spot in the table with only one defeat from their opening six games. Hopefully the public of Taunton will wake up and come and support their local club in bigger numbers starting with the visit of Dartford on Saturday.
Taunton: Dan Lavercombe, Nick Grimes (captain), Austen Booth, Ollie Chamberlain, Lloyd James, Nat Jarvis (Nick McCootie 73), Zac Smith (Ross Stearn 45), Cameron Evans, Marcus Day (Dave Sims-Burgess 73), Callum Dolman, Dylan Morgan. Unused subs: Rabby Tabu Minzamba, Lee Lucas
Maidstone: Lucas Covolan, Gavin Hoyte (captain) (Raphe Brown 73), Chi Ezennolim, George Fowler, Razzaq Coleman De-Graft, Sam Corne (Conor Kelly 52), Devonte Aransibia, Sam Bone, Liam Sole, Levi Amantchi (Ogo Obi 67), Bivesh Gurung. Unused subs: Lamar Reynolds, Harley Earle
Referee: George Warren (London)
Referee’s Assistant 1: David Spain (Hastings)
Referee’s Assistant 2: Howard Collins (Dartford)
“I’m really really proud because we could have won this…….” watch the Match Reaction of Rob Dray on Peacocks TV HERE
Match highlights can be seen on Peacocks TV courtesy of Maidstone United HERE
Match photos from Club Photographer Debbie Gould can be viewed HERE
Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance MOM
Callum Dolman receives the Taunton Town Man Of The Match award from some of the loyal Peacocks’ supporters who travelled to Maidstone