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Maidstone United manager Jay Saunders defends his decision to drop striker Paul Booth

Maidstone United player-manager Jay Saunders
Maidstone United player-manager Jay Saunders

By Craig Tucker

Manager Jay Saunders defended his decision to drop Paul Booth after Maidstone claimed their first win of the season.

Booth had to settle for a place on the bench at Whitstable on Tuesday despite scoring twice in United’s shock 5-4 defeat by Walton & Hersham on the opening day of the Ryman League, Division 1 South season.

He made way for Tim Olorunda as Saunders (pictured) started with a three-man midfield in a bid to protect his defence, while Shaun Welford was deployed as a lone striker. The changes paid off with Olorunda and Welford scoring and playing key roles in a 3-2 victory.

Saunders said: "It was hard telling ‘Boothy’ he wasn’t playing because he’s scored in each of his last five games, including two goals on Saturday. He was a bit gutted but he’s been about a long time and understands. He knows he’s going to be a massive player for us this season.

"I thought Tim was superb from the start and I went with Shaun because I felt he would offer us a bit more defensively in our own box."

United had a defensive horror show against Walton & Hersham and suffered a few nervy moments at Whitstable, but

Saunders is hoping the victory will settle the defence ahead of Stones’ home FA Cup preliminary round game against Colliers Wood on Saturday. Winger Sam Bewick starts a four-game ban tomorrow but Alex Flisher could return after missing the Whitstable game with an ankle injury.

United are away to Worthing on Bank Holiday Monday.

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