Fleet 0-4 Maidstone United

The Fleet finished this season’s DFDS Kent Senior Cup as runners-up as Maidstone United wrapped up the game early on by establishing a three-goal lead at the break. Fleet fielded two academy players with five more named on the bench while Maidstone’s side was largely a mix of regular first-teamers and first-team squad members.

It was a low-key Hayes Lanes with just over 700 in attendance but the Maidstone fans found their voice early when they got themselves in front inside the first minute. Harry Kyprianou broke down the right side of the Fleet defence and dropped a ball towards Michael Adu-Poku who headed it home at the far post to give the Stones an early lead. Sam Smith almost made it 2-0 when he met a corner whipped into the area but was marginally off target. 

A number of chances came the Stones’ way inside the opening 10 minutes. Former Hungerford winger Sol Wanjau-Smith was unable to keep his headed effort down but he was the man to double Maidstone’s advantage before 10 minutes were out with a curling effort from distance that left Chris Haigh no chance.

The Fleet’s first chance came with 20 minutes on the clock when Maxx Manktelow linked up with Greg Cundle – who was one of several players who had returned home at 4.30am from Accrington – who delivered a ball across the face of goal. David Amoo was through on goal but his attempt to chest the ball down for a shot was too heavy and Harley Earle collected. This was Fleet’s best spell of the 90 and a great run and pass from Cundle down the left flank found Darren McQueen. He laid it back into the path of Amoo whose low shot was driven straight at Earle.

The tempo of the final certainly slowed down after that with Maidstone content to pass their way around as the Fleet searched for something to spark a comeback. A Craig Tanner corner dipped into the box but his effort only managed the top of the crossbar before Matt Bentley almost made it three at the other end minutes later when he caught Chris Haigh off his line but his looping effort went wide.

Haigh was called into action on the brink of half-time when Lamar Reynolds drilled a low shot towards goal but a diving save kept that out. The Stones would make it three before the break, however, with a well-taken strike by Bentley finding the bottom left corner. 

David Amoo sees his effort blocked

That goal ended Fleet’s resistance and the second-half was played a slower tempo. The Fleet did claim the first chance of the half, however, with a low effort from range that slipped wide. Maidstone reacted with Bentley loosing a shot towards goal that Haigh was able to collect. And the Fleet goalkeeper also denied Kyrpianou’s shot.

Wanjau-Smith almost bagged his second of the evening with a spectacular effort from range that ricocheted off the crossbar.

Three of the Academy players were sent on – Tristan Lock, Bailey Cain and Bernard Rai – and it was Lock who came closest for the Fleet, dispatching a good shot from the edge of the area with Earle just about managing to collect that one to maintain his clean sheet. Fleet’s attacks were coming mainly through Amoo and McQueen, with Max Shoolbred supplying crosses from the right. Omari Sterling-James ventured forward from the middle but nothing really pushed the Stones out of their stride and the half petered out in terms of chance and excitement.

Max Shoolbred was an outlet out wide for the Fleet

There was still time for substitute Mo Faal to find the bottom corner to add a fourth after getting past a couple of Fleet defenders and that was the last kick of this season’s competition.

It was a whimper for the county cup to go out on with both sides having much bigger fish to fry in the coming days and Fleet will be ready to roar at Boreham Wood on Saturday.

EUFC: Haigh, Solly, Cisse, Fanimo, Manktelow, Shoolbred, Sterling-James, Tanner (Cain 66), Cundle (Lock 60), Amoo, McQueen (Rai 71). Subs: Buchanan, Umar
MUFC: Earle, Smith (Tanga 69), Greenidge, Adu-Poku (Faal 57), Wanjau-Smith (Corne 69), Reynolds, Court, Kyprianou, Bentley, Gurung, Appiah. Subs: Covolan, Fowler
Attendance: 747

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