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Billericay Town 1 Maidstone United 1 match report

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Substitute Reece Grant scored a late equaliser as Maidstone’s six-match winning streak was halted at bottom side Billericay.

Grant had only been on the pitch for eight minutes when he cancelled out Shaquile Coulthirst’s deflected opener for Ricay.

Maidstone United manager Hakan Hayrettin Picture: Steve Terrell
Maidstone United manager Hakan Hayrettin Picture: Steve Terrell

But his cameo was soon over with an ankle injury forcing him off two minutes from the end of normal time as Maidstone, having made all three changes, finished with 10 men.

The point wasn’t enough to keep United top of National South, with Ebbsfleet taking over on goal difference after their win at Hemel.

Sam Corne came in for Dominic Odusanya in the only change from the win over Tonbridge.

Maidstone’s approach in the first half appeared to be hit wingers Joan Luque and Roarie Deacon early and get them running at their markers.

Luque had plenty of joy down the left, seeing several crosses cut out by the home defence, including one in the opening moments which saw giant defender Michael Chambers beat Stones striker Jack Barham to a dangerous ball in.

Chances-wise, there was nothing clear-cut for the visitors as they struggled to get Barham in the game.

That said, Michael Phillips went close a couple of times, seeing an effort blocked after Regan Booty’s free-kick hit the first man and dropped kindly, and he later volleyed just wide after Ricay failed to clear the latest Luque cross.

While Maidstone weren’t at their flowing best, they were very good at winning the ball back quickly, denying Billericay much to work with in attack.

Indeed, the hosts’ only shot in the opening 45 minutes saw Coulthirst go close after turning in the box.

They called for a penalty late in the first half when Phillips went in on Jack Munns but referee Callum Walchester waved away their appeals.

There were a couple of good openings for the visitors at the start of the second half, Luque firing at keeper Lovett after cutting inside from a Booty pass, then Corne bent the ball inches wide of the far post from a similar position.

As pressure built, Luque beat his man down the left and played the ball across the six-yard box to Barham, who was denied by the keeper’s legs.

Seconds later, Deacon hit the post from the edge of the box, with Phillips putting the follow-up into the stand.

But Maidstone fell behind against the run of play in the 71st minute with Billericay breaking forward and taking the lead through Coulthirst’s deflected strike from 20 yards.

The visitors kept their heads and levelled 11 minutes later, substitute Grant diverting Gavin Hoyte’s strike past Lovett as Billericay appealed for offside.

Maidstone pushed hard for a winner but finished with 10 men after goalscorer Grant hobbled off.

Maidstone: Hadler, Hoyte, Fowler, Ellul, Brown, Booty, Corne, Phillips (Odusanya 70mins), Deacon (Pattisson 74mins), Luque, Barham (Grant 74mins). Subs not used: Mersin, Binnom-Williams.

Referee: Callum Walchester.

Attendance: Not given.

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