Ryman Premier League
Maidstone United 1, Canvey Island 1
CANVEY survived a late onslaught to take a valuable point from high-flying Maidstone.
The Gulls came into the match 12 places below the opposition but proved more than a match for the Kent side, with only a late penalty denying them three points after Jay Curran had headed them in front just after half-time.
The talking point before the match was Maidstone United’s 3G pitch and how the Canvey players would adapt to the different surface.
However, the Gulls took to it like a duck to water and their early passing saw them make the early running and create the first chance.
Mike Jones’ strong burst from defence saw him slide in John Sands, but the forward’s shot lacked power and was easily saved by Stones goalkeeper Lee Worgan.
Sands had another half-chance before the home side had their first shot.
Frannie Collin met Elliot Cox’s cross but his shot was saved by Canvey new boy Scott Chalmers-Stevens.
Maidstone were turning up the pressure and should have taken the lead when Alex Flisher’s low cross was missed by two players sliding in at the far post.
Chalmers-Stevens made another good save before half-time as Canvey made it to the break on level terms.
However, Gulls came out fighting in the second half and took the lead when Sheldon Sellears’ corner was thumped home by Curran.
The home side, sensing unrest in the crowd, began turning up the heat and Jerrome Sobers, Flisher and Michael Phillips all missed chances to equalise before Canvey had a great opportunity to double their advantage.
Callum Webb found Sands in the left-hand channel and his cross should have been turned home by Curran but the striker dithered and Webb couldn’t turn home the follow up.
Collin was twice denied by Chalmers-Stevens before Canvey missed a chance they would live to regret.
The excellent Webb played in Sands and his flick beat Worgan but not the upright with the ball bouncing to safety.
That miss proved decisive with Maidstone storming up the other end to win a penalty after Chalmers-Stevens brought down Zac Attwood in the box. Collin stepped up to score his 18th goal of the season.
With under ten minutes to play it seemed the wind was with Maidstone but they couldn’t create another clear-cut chance, even after Gulls defender Michael Alaile saw red for two bookable offences.
Canvey boss Danny Heale said he was happy with a point.
“We would have taken it before the game but as the game went on I thought we should have got all three.
“We had the better chances but the whole team was exceptional today.”