Published: 06:00, 23 September 2021
Tom Hadler should be back for Maidstone’s game at Bath City this weekend.
Goalkeeper Hadler missed United’s FA Cup win against Chichester with a tight quad.
He watched on as understudy Billy Johnson stepped in for the 3-1 second qualifying round victory.
The former Gillingham man was pleased to see Johnson makes his debut but is on track to return for unbeaten Maidstone’s longest away trip in National South on Saturday.
“I just felt it tighten up when I took a goal-kick in the second half against Concord,” said Hadler, 25.
“I kept having to kick it, so it kept getting a little bit worse, but it’s eased off and the plan is to be back for Bath.
“Billy’s been great for me, so it was nice to see him get a chance. It’s been tricky where we’ve not had a goalie coach the whole time so we’ve had to keep each other going.
“It’s a funny dynamic because we’re competing with each other but at the same time we’re working together.
“I’m never one to create an atmosphere but you do come across goalies who will and it’s not a nice place to work.
“You can push each other within a friendly atmosphere, I’m on his side and I was buzzing we got the win.”
Hadler was in and out of the Ebbsfleet side last season, with manager Dennis Kutrieb rotating his keepers.
He shared duties with Jordan Holmes but arrived at Maidstone in the summer knowing he’d be first choice.
“That was weird last season,” said Hadler. “It’s been better here because we’ve got more of a structure and we know where we stand.
"But, likewise with Jordan, we got on well.
"I’m not going to not get on with anybody, providing they don’t have a problem with me, but it was a weird set-up that didn’t lend itself to proper continuity and feeling like you’re going to get a run of games under your belt.
“I won a penalty shoot-out and you knew you’d be out next game.
“I’ve really enjoyed it here and the results have told.
“The team have performed well and it’s been a really positive start.
“Even when we’ve not been at our best we’re at least holding on to results or staying in games and finishing things off.
“That’s given us a good platform and hopefully we’ll carry it on and still be up there at the end of the season.”
Hadler’s first experience of the Gallagher Stadium came as a teenager when he played in goal for Tonbridge on loan from the Gills in a 1-1 draw on New Year’s Day 2015.
Four years later he played for Gillingham as Maidstone won a Kent Senior Cup semi-final on penalties.
He’s glad to have the Stones fans on his side these days.
“I was really young in that Tonbridge game, I was a first-year pro and it was a hell of an experience at that age," said Hadler.
“Even back then, it was a place I enjoyed playing at, you buzz off the atmosphere whether you’re home or away.
“Thankfully, I’m home now, so it’s great.”