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Maidstone United 3 Chelmsford City 1 match report: The Stones are National League South champions

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Maidstone are celebrating after winning National League South with two games to spare.

Victory over Chelmsford, coupled with Dorking's defeat at St Albans, means Hakan Hayrettin's side are champions.

It puts United back in the National League after a three-year absence and is their first title since winning the Isthmian Premier seven years ago.

Goals from Jack Barham, Hady Ghandour and Roarie Deacon gave Maidstone their 21st victory in their past 25 games, with City replying through Simeon Jackson.

Fans poured on the pitch after seven minutes of injury time, to get the party started.

City, safe from relegation, had nothing to play for but you wouldn’t have known it as they set out to make life difficult for the Stones in front of a bumper crowd of 3,774.

It might have been easier had Sam Corne’s lovely third-minute strike nestled in the net rather than coming back off the inside of the post but, as it was, the visitors were determined to make Maidstone work hard for their win.

Chelmsford might even have taken the lead themselves when Charlie Sheringham met a corner from the right but Tom Hadler made an excellent save on the line.

Jerome Binnom-Williams and Deacon kept plugging away down the left, looking to work openings, but Maidstone were largely restricted to efforts from distance in the first half.

Corne went close again after making room on the edge of the box, Binnon-Williams threatened after winning back possession 20 yards out and Regan Booty teed himself up after picking up a clearance, his strike landing on the roof of the net.

City keeper Kai McKenzie-Lyle made an awkward-looking save with his legs as Booty tried his luck again after picking up a loose ball, before Maidstone broke the deadlock.

The goal came in the 43rd with Deacon forcing a mistake from Adebola Oluwo and swapping passes with Barham before going round the outside of his man.

Deacon then thrashed the ball across goal for Barham to pounce at the near post, although he hurt himself in the process of scoring his 18th goal of the season.

Barham reappeared for the second half but was soon down again and had to go off, replaced by Ghandour on 49 minutes.

The Charlton loanee made a near-instant impact, doubling Maidstone’s lead only two minutes after his introduction.

The celebrations begin as Maidstone are confirmed National South champions
The celebrations begin as Maidstone are confirmed National South champions

He ran on to the excellent Michael Phillips’ pass from midfield and finished coolly into the bottom corner on his left foot.

It was his first Stones goal, coming against a club where he’s also spent time on loan this season.

With 20 minutes left there was a huge roar at the Gallagher as news filtered through that title rivals Dorking were behind at St Albans, meaning Maidstone would be champions if there was no change.

Home fans didn’t stop signing as United went after further goals, Christie Pattisson with a shot parried at the near post after a bright run.

Number three followed nine minutes from time, Phillips with another assist, this time for Deacon to latch on to and finish.

Ghandour made absolutely sure it was in but it appeared to be Deacon’s goal.

Former Gillingham striker Jackson glanced home a free-kick to pull a goal back in the 84th minute.

Maidstone went straight up the other end and were awarded a penalty for a trip but Deacon blazed over.

Maidstone: Hadler, Hoyte, Fowler, Ellul, Binnom-Williams, Booty, Phillips, Corne, Pattisson, Deacon, Barham (Ghandour 49mins). Subs not used: Elokobi, Powell, Mersin, Walters.

Referee: Callum Walchester.

Attendance: 3,774.

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