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Maidstone United goalkeeper Tom Hadler speaks about his return to the side


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Tom Hadler has taken his chance after reclaiming the No.1 shirt at Maidstone.

Hadler felt he was harshly dropped in favour of Millwall loanee Ryan Sandford during United’s poor run.

Maidstone goalkeeper Tom Hadler Picture: Steve Terrell
Maidstone goalkeeper Tom Hadler Picture: Steve Terrell

But when Sandford suffered an ankle ligament injury in training, Hadler made a timely return as Maidstone won 3-2 at his former club Ebbsfleet last Tuesday.

With Sandford still out, Hadler retained his spot and made the winning save as Maidstone beat Billericay 6-5 on penalties in the FA Trophy second round on Saturday.

He had little time to prepare, unaware the tie was going straight to a shoot-out following the 1-1 draw.

“I didn’t know it was going to penalties,” said Hadler.

“I thought it was extra-time or a replay and then the fans said it’s straight to pens.

“I was buzzing for it, I always back myself in a penalty shoot-out, I think you have to, so to get that winning save was very satisfying.”

Maidstone fans were surprised to see Hadler axed last month.

It also came as a shock to the 25-year-old who’d been happy with his form despite a dip in results.

He’s back between the sticks now and determined to stay there.

He said: “It’s obviously never nice being out the team, you want to be playing as much as possible.

Tom Hadler makes the winning penalty save in Maidstone's FA Trophy victory over Billericay Picture: Steve Terrell
Tom Hadler makes the winning penalty save in Maidstone's FA Trophy victory over Billericay Picture: Steve Terrell

“I want to be out there, I want to be fighting for the team, I get on great with the boys and I just want to be part of it.

“Getting the win at Ebbsfleet was obviously fun and the penalties topped it off.

“You train all week, you want to play, so it was difficult and frustrating to be out of the team, but you keep working hard and take the opportunities when they’re there.

“I personally didn’t feel my performances warranted another goalkeeper coming in.

“After Dulwich and Hungerford I’d had a couple of good performances, we hadn’t had the results but it is what it is.

“The outfield players have got to make sure they’re in tip-top shape and so have I, so I don’t mind having the competition and working hard and keeping my spot.

“It was nice to have the crowd’s backing.

“I don’t really get involved in forums or anything, it’s a dangerous game, but you get told stuff and I speak to the fans and they’ve all been behind me and behind us all season.”

Hadler may be a crowd favourite at Maidstone but the same can’t be said at Ebbsfleet after his reaction at full-time last week.

Tom Hadler and his Maidstone team-mates celebrate shoot-out success against Billericay Picture: Steve Terrell
Tom Hadler and his Maidstone team-mates celebrate shoot-out success against Billericay Picture: Steve Terrell

A target for home fans behind the goal, Hadler revelled in United’s 3-2 victory, with footage shared on Twitter.

“I certainly had some fun,” said Hadler, who only found out he was playing an hour-and-a-half before the game.

“I’ve got nothing against Ebbsfleet, I sat in the bar with the boys afterwards and had a good chat with the manager.

“The issue came when they were trying to bounce chips off my head and that didn’t really sit well with me.

“I thought I’d just leave it till the end of the game, I wasn’t going to rise to it, they’d given it to me for 45 minutes, I thought I’d give them just a little bit back.

“They didn’t particularly appreciate it but neither did I.

“They’re entitled to dish it out, I just gave a bit back.”

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