02:57PM, Monday 07 August 2017
Maidstone United 1, Maidenhead United 1
Substitute Sam Barratt rescued a point for Maidenhead United at Maidstone United with a thunderous 88th minute header.
Barratt, a 79th minute replacement for Harry Pritchard, stretched his neck muscles to divert Dave Tarpey's in-swinging corner past Lee Worgan as a torrential rain shower swept across the Gallagher Stadium.
For much of the 90 minutes this looked like being an early illustration of just how tough life in the National League will be for the Magpies, after Joe Piggot had curled the hosts into a 51st minute lead from a free-kick.
The Stones also struck the crossbar twice in the match and missed two clear cut chances for Delano Sam-Yorke and substitute Tom Wraight.
But, having ridden their luck, the Magpies responded positively to the second half changes made by manager Alan Devonshire. And, with Barratt's galvanising play dragging them forward, they may even have won it in the closing stages.
Rocked by Barratt's equaliser the Stones survived a late battering from the visitors which saw James Comley almost score from the half-way line and Barratt and Tarpey hit the crossbar within seconds of each other in a dramatic finish to the match.
Having weathered an early storm the Magpies found their feet in Kent to match their hosts in the first half. Sean Marks just failed to divert Ryan Upward's ball over the top on target in the 14th minute, seconds after Harry Willard had fired against the crossbar for the Stones.
Harold Odametey - preferred to James Mulley down the right - was also causing his fair share of problems and keeper Lee Worgan had to be alert to get behind his deflected shot.
Sam-Yorke missed the target with a sliding shot from Willard's centre five minutes before the break, but the Magpies did finally succumb in the 51st minute when, after a giving away a soft free-kick, Piggot curled the hosts in front.
The Stones will feel they should have put the game to bed with Piggot diverting Willard's cross against the crossbar and Wraight slipping a shot just wide of the post on 75 minutes.
But, the Magpies were just warming up, and, as the heavens opened with five minutes to play, they produced their best football of the match to earn a historic first point in the National League.
Having got back on terms through Barratt's header, a raft of chances fell the visitors way. The best of them in the final seconds when Barratt's cross-shot was pushed onto the bar by Worgan and Tarpey - who couldn't adjust his fee in time - could only divert the follow up shot against the bar.
Maidenhead: Pentney, Clerima, Kilman, Massey, Inman (Clifton 66), Odametey, Upward (Goodman 80), Comley, Pritchard (Barratt 79), Tarpey, Marks. Subs not used: Smith, Mulley.
Maidstone: Worgan, Hare, Finney, Prestedge, Lewis, Sam-Yorke, Paxman (Phipps 84), Anderson, Twumasi, Willard (Wraight 74), Piggot. Subs not used: Wynter, Reason, Richards.
Highlights uploaded to youtube by the Vanarama National League. Go to 11.50 for Magpies match highlights.
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