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Maidstone United 1 Hartlepool United 1 match report

By Craig Tucker

Maidstone drew with Hartlepool in an entertaining season opener at the Gallagher.

The dangerous Blair Turgott gave United a first-half lead from the penalty spot.

They were pegged by Liam Noble a minute later but their fitness looked good in searing heat and they could count themselves unlucky not to pinch victory late on.

Blair Turgott has just given Maidstone the lead from the penalty spot Picture: Andy Jones
Blair Turgott has just given Maidstone the lead from the penalty spot Picture: Andy Jones

United handed debuts to George McLennan at left-back and Joe Quigley up front, while last season’s loanees Alex Finney and Will De Havilland teamed up in defence after signing permanent deals.

Maidstone were out to overrun a Pools side who responded with an attacking 3-4-3 formation in a bid to fight fire with fire.

The tempo was pretty good from both sides given the 30-degree heat, with the visitors shading a decent first half.

Noble looked particularly good in possession as Pools put several balls in behind the Maidstone defence for the dangerous Jake Cassidy to run on to.

Jamar Loza runs at the Hartlepool defence Picture: Andy Jones
Jamar Loza runs at the Hartlepool defence Picture: Andy Jones

The Pools striker had an opening inside four minutes after good work by Luke James but Lee Worgan made the block.

Maidstone got Jamar Loza in on goal shortly before the quarter-hour mark but Carl Magnay snuffed out the chance.

That was the Stones’ clearest chance before taking the lead in the 41st minute.

Niko Muir was penalised for a high boot on Muldoon - Pools felt the Stones midfielder’s head was low - and Turgott sent Scott Loach the wrong way from the spot.

Maidstone captain Stuart Lewis in the thick of things at the Gallagher Picture: Andy Jones
Maidstone captain Stuart Lewis in the thick of things at the Gallagher Picture: Andy Jones

The lead lasted just a minute with the ball breaking to Noble after a strong run by James and he found the bottom corner.

Michael Phillips put an injury-time header over the bar from a Turgott cross while Cassidy went through from a Noble pass but couldn’t beat Worgan.

Muir flashed a first-time strike just wide after Ryan Donaldson flew down the right and fed James early in the second half.

Stones went close when Quigley’s bullet header was blocked on the line while Seth Nana Twumasi’s 30-yard drive went narrowly over.

At the other end, Lewis got in the way of Peter Kioso’s volley which was heading for the bottom corner.

Maidstone debutant Joe Quigley helps the ball on against Hartlepool Picture: Andy Jones
Maidstone debutant Joe Quigley helps the ball on against Hartlepool Picture: Andy Jones

Maidstone enjoyed a good spell midway through the second half, Lewis and Muldoon to the fore.

Loach made a double save to keep the Stones at bay with just over 10 minutes left, the second from Twumasi after a lovely run and strike by the right-back.

Substitute Shamir Mullings was then denied a tap-in by a superb a piece of defending by Magnay to cut out Turgott’s cross as Maidstone finished strongly.

Maidstone: Worgan, Twumasi, De Havilland, Finney, McLennan, Muldoon (Wynter 90mins), Lewis, Phillips (Paxman 62mins), Turgott, Quigley (Mullings 69mins), Loza. Subs not used: Efete, Richards.

Attendance: 2,599 (346 away).

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