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Swans spoil homecoming in nine-goal thriller

A MASSIVE crowd of 1,569 turned out for Maidstone’s first Ryman South game at the Gallagher Stadium, their first league game in their home town for 24 years, and they were certainly royally entertained even the result was not what the majority of them wou
over 2 years ago | Peter Butcher
Swans spoil homecoming in nine-goal thrillerZoom

Phil Williams put the Swans ahead after 18 minutes but the home fans enjoyed their interval refreshments after Paul Booth’s double in the last five minutes of the first half, the first of them a penalty. Williams made it 2-2 on the hour and, though the bar denied him a hat-trick, Graeme Purdy pounced on the rebound to put Swans in front again with 15 minutes left. Jason Henry then made it 4-2 and after Alex Flisher halved the arrears in the 89th minute, Purdy struck again deep into added time. There was still enough left on the watch for Michael Phillips to claim Maidstone’s fourth but it was too late.

If there is some doubt about the scorer of the league’s first goal of the season, there is none whatever about the first red card. That went to Ramsgate keeper Ashley Bourne, who was given his marching orders after bringing down Carl Wilson-Denis in the very first minute. Substitute Shannon Harris replaced him to face Peter Adeniyi’s penalty and watched the ball fly wide. Dulwich, so close to the title last season, went ahead through Ellis Green in the 20th minute and eight minutes later it was 3-0 though a Lewis Gonsalves header and another from Green. The ten men defended well after that and there was no further scoring.

Both debutant Ryman clubs in this division had home games, and both were beaten.

Sussex County League champions Three Bridges fell behind against Sittingbourne to a 14th-minute own goal by Scott Faber and it would have been worse had Joe Nwoko not missed a penalty shortly afterwards. Joel O’Hara’s header put Bridges on terms in the 21st minute and they were firm favourites when the visitors had Ashley Ulph sent off 11 minutes after the break. But it was the Brickies who won it when Luke Girt beat the offside trap in the 86th minute. (Bridges' first ever-Ryman goal is pictured above courtesy of Sittingbourne's Ken Medwyn. O'Hara is no.7.)

Kent League champions Herne Bay gave a good account of themselves against relegated Tooting and a goalless draw was five minutes away when Joseph Acquah struck to give the Terrors all three points.

Antonio Gonnella’s stoppage-time strike earned Faversham a 3-3 draw at home to Eastbourne Town, who had taken a second-minute lead through Matt Crabb. It stayed that way until the 54th minute, when Dave Botterill’s free-kick squared matters, and Dan Lawrence put Faversham ahead in the 71st minute. Two minutes later, however, Eastbourne were back in the lead thanks to Danny Curd’s quickfire double.

There were six goals, too, at Merstham, though not so evenly distributed. Twice behind, Crawley Down Gatwick celebrated their first league match under their expanded name with a 4-2 victory. Liam Collins volleyed Merstham ahead on 27 minutes, Gabriel Odunaike replied four minutes later and Fabio Saraiva restored the home lead four minutes after that. It was a seven-minute wait for the next goal, an overhead kick by Jamie Cade, and Cade struck again six minutes into the second half. Luke Blewden completed the scoring in the 68th minute.

Burgess Hill, who escaped relegation with a shock win over Dulwich on the final day of last season, started the new campaign in encouraging fashion, beating visitors Chipstead 3-1. Bruce Hogg fired Chips ahead from long range in the fifth minute but Hillians hit back strongly and deservedly equalised on 34 minutes through Nicky Wheeler. Pat Harding lobbed them in front immediately after the interval and Wheeler made sure with 12 minutes left. It might have been more, but Jonno Melia twice hit the woodwork.

Hythe were another team to start fast: Dave Cook gave them a second-minute lead at Walton Casuals. Unlike Chips, they made the most of it, running out 3-1 winners. Brendon Cass made it 2-0 on 56 minutes, Hassan Nyang gave Casuals hope with a 77th-minute header and George Savage settled it with five minutes left.

Folkestone, beaten in the play-off semi-finals by Dulwich in the spring, opened their account for the season with a 2-1 home victory over Worthing in an even and entertaining game. Josh Burchell put the Kent side ahead three minutes before half-time. Tom Lawley squared it in the 54th minute only for James Everitt to head the winner two minutes later.

Relegated Leatherhead began their attempt to bounce back with a 1-0 home win over Whitstable. Summer signing Tom Bradbrook, who has joined Tanners’ ex-Sittingbourne contingent, scored the goal in the 77th minute.

Another relegated side, Horsham, had to settle for a 1-1 home draw with Corinthian-Casuals. Danny Green put Casuals ahead on 55 minutes, Scott Harris equalised ten minutes later and Hornets almost won it when Kery Kedze hit the bar.