Published: 14:50, 15 July 2017
A record crowd of 4,101 saw Maidstone take on the kids of Crystal Palace on Saturday.
Jordon Mutch, a £4.75m signing from QPR two years ago, was the one recognised player in a young Eagles team - and that’s only because they’re trying to offload him.
But the former England under-21 international is a good player and he showed it by scoring twice in the first half and making the youngsters tick in front of new Eagles boss Frank de Boer.
Maidstone, celebrating five years at the Gallagher Stadium, scored the goal of the game through Joe Pigott, a terrific free-kick, to cancel out Mutch’s opener.
It was a shame Palace turned it into an under-23 fixture but, let’s get it right, they were all decent players and it was probably the biggest day in their careers, playing in front of over 4,000.
They all wanted to be out there, all wanted to impress and so in that respect, rather than chasing shadows against first-team stars, this was a more useful fixture for the Stones.
Palace, strong out wide, started well and led after 15 minutes.
Lee Worgan came out of his goal to rescue a mix-up at the back but the ball broke off him to Mutch, who worked space and finished calmly.
For Stones, Stuart Lewis forced a good save from Kleton Perntreou from distance and saw Sam Woods get in the way of another goalbound effort.
Jay Saunders’ side levelled in the 33rd minute when Pigott - inevitably given stick by the Eagles fans over his Charlton past - bent a lovely free-kick into the top corner from 25 yards.
Palace were back in front five minutes later, the lively Andre Coker allowing the ball to run across him to Mutch who picked out the top corner.
A lively start to the second half saw Worgan save well from Jason Lokilo and Coker, twice, while for Stones, Delano Sam-Yorke almost forced an own goal off Woods and Lewis’ latest long-range effort was tipped over.
Both sides made changes as the half wore on and it was a Palace substitute, Jacob Berkeley, who poked home the visitors’ third after breaking into the box.
Maidstone trialist Tyler Campbell had the ball in the net soon after but it was disallowed for offside.
Maidstone: Worgan, Twumasi, Anderson, Okuonghae, Lokko, Prestedge, Lewis, Paxman, Sam-Yorke, Pigott, Wraight. Subs: Hare, Phipps, Richards, Willard, Campbell, Thomas, Capel, Chambers, Dorling, Cooper, Campanella, Lawson.
Palace: Perntreou, Woods, Tavares, Owens, Lumeka, Brown, Flanagan, McGregor, Mutch, Lokilo, Coker. Subs: Henry, Berkeley, Fundi, Hungbo, Daly, Ossai, Norman-Williams.
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