Thirty-three years in the making and the evening didn’t disappoint as far as Fleet fans were concerned as their side came away with a second successive win in 2015/16 – and in this first such Kent derby since 1982.
Daryl McMahon named an unchanged side after Fleet saw off Basingstoke by a single goal on Saturday, while the Stones were fresh from an impressive away win at Sutton.
Roared on by a very small percentage of the capacity crowd, the men in red started as they meant to go on, largely comfortable in possession and giving the home side little quarter. Having survived an early scare when Frannie Collin’s corner fizzed along the six-yard box, Fleet looked confident and kept Maidstone’s defence on their toes for much of the opening period.
Jordan Parkes won a free-kick on 18 minutes that he sent just over the bar before the Stones could have taken a surprise lead when Manny Parry headed a corner on target and Matt Godden was forced to clear off the line.
Tempers boiled over on the half-hour mark when captains Steve Watt and Tom Bonner tangled in the box and went down beneath a melee of players, both earning a booking for their participation in that spat.
Fleet took the lead five minutes before half-time. It owed much to Danny Kedwell, who moments before had tested goalkeeper Lee Worgan with a shot from 15 yards. This time, the Fleet No.9 got space to deliver a fine cross on to Godden’s head. Worgan made a superb stop from the point-blank-range effort but he couldn’t prevent Parkes from slamming home the rebound to the delight of the travelling faithful.
That blow inspired the home side to greater efforts as the second half began and Brandon Hall had to be at his best to deny Joe Healy after the Fleet defence had failed to deal with a corner. Hall then diverted Callum Driver’s speculative effort over the bar before watching a Watt header fly past the upright.
But Fleet finished the game on top and should really have been 2-0 up when Parkes flighted a cross away from Worgan’s grasp and Kedwell somehow planted his header off target. But that was merely a let-off for the home side as with nine minutes to play, The impressive John Paul Kissock drove into the box and supplied Parkes, who arrived on cue to fire the ball past Worgan.
Maidstone still found time to hit the woodwork, with Jay May grazing the bar with a header, but it was too little too late for the National League new boys.
EUFC: Hall, Fish, Howe, Rance, Clark, Bonner, Godden (Haynes 67), Parkes, Kedwell, Kissock, Willmott (S Lewis 82). Subs not used: Acheampong, Miles, Cunnington
MUFC: Worgan, Driver, Mills, Watt, Parry, Rogers (Brown 55), Bodkin (Akrofi 67), Healy, May, Collin (Paxman 62), Taylor. Subs not used: Coyle, Pinnock