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Maidstone United defender Ryan Johnson speaks about his change of role

Ryan Johnson's starring role against Torquay reinforced what an important signing he's been for Maidstone.

Few Stones fans were aware of Johnson when he signed from Isthmian South East club East Grinstead in pre-season.

Ryan Johnson, centre, has been a big hit at Maidstone Picture: Helen Cooper
Ryan Johnson, centre, has been a big hit at Maidstone Picture: Helen Cooper

But they know all about him now after an excellent start to his Stones career alongside George Elokobi in central defence and now as a holding midfielder.

He did a superb job in front of the back four to snuff out Torquay dangerman Jamie Reid, following John Still and Hakan Hayrettin's 11th-hour change of tactics for the FA Cup tie.

"They had a chat with me before the game and mentioned about going in there," said Johnson.

"As the game progressed and tensions are rising, you don't want to make a mistake.

"It got to 70 minutes and I was thinking just get to the whistle.

"It was a great shift by everybody.

"A lot of things were falling for me in there.

"It was through the width of the goal, they like to play through the boy up front and they're very cute with it, so I just had to be nice and narrow and get in and around it.

Maidstone United defender Ryan Johnson Picture: Sean Aidan
Maidstone United defender Ryan Johnson Picture: Sean Aidan

"If George or Luke Pennell came out from the back, I would fill in with my centre-half tendencies, so it worked well.

"I've played in midfield at lower levels, so it wasn't too alien to me, but when you're centre-half it's all in front of you and when you're centre-midfield it's all around you, so it is different.

"There's a lot more to think about because you can get tackled from everywhere, but it was brilliant and I'm absolutely over the moon to get through."

From playing in front of 100 or so fans last season, Johnson savoured the atmosphere as more than 2,000 Stones supporters celebrated reaching the second round.

Johnson added: "It's worked out well coming here.

"It was just getting used to the training at first but I've enjoyed it and playing here with the fans is absolutely brilliant.

"It's a great club to come in to and hopefully we can keep progressing in the league and the FA Cup.

"The crowd on a day like this, there's none better, even in the league above. It's just an unbelievable atmosphere here."

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