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News - March 2008

28th March 2008. 12.00pm

It's another crucial weekend for the Stones as they aim to put a gap between themselves and the relegation zone.

As ever, injuries will once again have an impact on team selection but joint manager Alan Walker remained confident; "We obviously go into the game with a great deal of confidence particularly after a good performance last Monday, but we certainly don't go in to this game over-confident, as Wealdstone are themselves fighting against relegation and have also had some good results recently so we will have to earn the right to win. That said, we showed a mix of guile, strength and pace up front last Saturday with Tiesse and Erskine up front and a good performance from Freeman, who won us the penalty has softened the blow from losing Hegley through injury. We will also be without Ben Lewis again and that's a big loss in terms of his prescence on the pitch, bit Lee Shearer is now available having completed his suspension and I'm sure he will come back stronger than ever as the time off has given him time to get over the niggling injuries which he had."

Sam Tydeman and Nick Hegley remain major doubts ahead of the weekend as they try to shake off injury and definitely out is Chris Smalling who is away on international duty.

In other team news, the club also announced today that they had released Rob Owen. Commenting on his release, Alan Walker said; "He wasn't selected for the squad last week and there was little chance for him this weekend so we agreed to allow him to try and get first team football elsewhere before the transfer deadline closes. He may well return to the club at a future date but for the moment we felt this was the best way forward for him. He has obviously been a great player for the club this season and we obviously hope he can play a part in the future as well."

You can follow the game live with goal flash updates on the official site, but if you are away from a PC and can't make the game, don't forget you can get the goals straight to your phone via our goalflash alerts SMS service which returns this weekend, click here for details.

21st March 2008. 6.00pm

The club formally cancelled the playing contract of popular midfielder/defender Errison Ahwan today by mutual consent. Ahwan had been with The Stones for just under two seasons since joining from Kent League rivals Beckenham Town and in that time he played 67 times for the club scoring 13 goals in the process.

Errison made the decision earlier this season to make himself unavailable for selection on Saturday’s due to his religious beliefs as a Seventh Day Adventist (Saturday being treated as their day of worship). Errison said today “That was a very difficult decision to make for me personally. I’d let my faith lapse over the last three or four years and it was beginning to trouble me. When we got to around the time that we played Leyton away I was not certain that playing football on Saturdays was what I should be doing and I had several long discussions with my close friends and family over the issue. They left it up to me to decide though.”

“Now that I’ve made the decision I am very happy and it feels like a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I have to thank Alan Walker and Lloyd Hume for their understanding over my circumstances, after all it’s not every day that a player comes along with this type of issue! I’ve also got to thank the Chairman for his support of me over my time at the club and his plans for the future for Maidstone United.”

“When I made my announcement I checked the supporters’ message board to see what people’s reaction to my decision was and to be honest I was amazed at how positive and kind the fans were towards me and my situation. I was literally left with a lump in my throat at some of the kind comments. Whatever happens from now on, I will always consider Maidstone United as ‘my club.’ I loved my time with Maidstone and of course winning the league last year was very special indeed. I’d just like to say thanks to everybody at the club.”

Errison will continue to play football but not on Saturday’s. His friend of 10 years, Simon Jones, has just taken over the reins at Kent League Sevenoaks Town and Errison will help out with some training at Greatness Park and will also turn out for The Oaks on Easter Monday. However, The Stones will retain Ahwan’s Isthmian League registration until the end of the season on a non-contract basis.

 

20th March 2008. 11.00am

Stones go into the weekend's Bank Holiday fixtures with two key players suspended plus injury concerns for two more.

Lee Shearer misses the next two games due to suspension, whilst Rob Owen will miss Saturday's home game with Chelmsford, but will be available on Monday for the clash at East Thurrock. On the injuries front, Mark Saunders has a suspected broken thumb, but the swelling around the injury means a further x-ray is required to confirm this. Hume and Walker will make a further assessment of how things stand after training this evening and the results of the second x-ray before making a decision on his availabilty.

There is also a question mark over whether Andy Pugh will be able to extend his loan with the club for a further month and the club were awaiting a decision from Gillingham as to whether he will be able to join the squad on Saturday.

 

19th March 2008. 9.30pm

Ben LewisStones skipper Ben Lewis has acknowledged the team's improved performance following a dramatic 2-1 win over Harlow Town last weekend.

A 94th minute winner secured three vital points, which moved the club out of the relegation zone. However the league remains extremely tight and it will be a fight to the finish.

Lewis said: "Last week I urged the team to step up a gear and they came good. With the teams around us winning, the league is on a knife-edge and we've got to battle to the finish to stay in this league.

"The supporters were fantastic and the volume when the winner went in, up until the final whistle, was great. We need this level of encouragement over the coming weeks.

"The Chelmsford match this weekend will be a tough test but we've got a point to prove after the away fixture. We'll go into the match confident and determined to show what we're capable of."

 



11th March 2008. 10.00pm

Maidstone United skipper Ben Lewis has urged his team-mates to start showing their true mettle after Saturday’s 2-0 defeat by AFC Hornchurch.

The Stones are without a win in their last five games and have slipped into the relegation zone.

Lewis told the MUFC website “It’s time where we have to stand up and be counted, every player has to go out on Saturday and prove his worth.”

“We’ve got to show everyone that we are prepared to fight for the cause and stay in this league. It’s getting tight, we’ve deserved criticism on occasions this season and we’re all big enough to accept that.”

Lewis added: “It’s up to us now as a team, as players and as men to go out and sort this problem out.”

 


11th March 2008. 9.30pm

It was the second England schoolboys game on Monday evening. The team, which featured Chris Smalling and Ashley Ulph, beat Northern Ireland Schoolboys 2-1.

Ashley's dad sent maidstoneunited.co.uk a report of the day - so here's Bob's Blog...

England Schoolboys line-up"After torrential rain and gale force winds during the early hours of Monday morning the game was in doubt and a late afternoon pitch inspection at Mountview Park the home of Irish Premier League club Glenavon was scheduled. At 4.30pm news filtered through to the England supporters gathered in various locations across Belfast that the game had been moved to Cookstown which was some 65 miles away! With no trains running to this part of Northern Ireland and an estimated 2 – 3 hour bus journey to get there a frantic rush was made to local car hire companies as supporters joined forces to get to the game.

"Arriving at Cookstown just before kick off we were greeted by a totally open sports centre ground with no protection from the gales or torrent of rain that hammered down throughout the match. Our two Maidstone lads again started in their familiar positions with Chris Smalling one of the three centre backs and Butch Ulph lining up at Right wing back in a 3-5-2 formation.

"The very experienced Northern Ireland team were made up players most of who had already turned out this season for Irish Premier League clubs and for one player who had even played in a European match for Linfield.

"The game was hard fought and with some good links in defence between Butch and Chris. After just 10 minutes into the game a clash of heads between Butch and an Irish forward saw both players going doing with cuts to the head and for Butch to be knocked out for a few minutes. While the Irish player was taken off to hospital for an ex ray, Butch was bandaged up and after exchanging his blooded number 2 shirt with the number 20 substitute player, Butch came back on and resumed play.

Is it Butch...is it Rambo?"The first half saw England take a 1 nil lead from a well taken free kick. While half time couldn’t come quick enough for both players and spectators as the rain lashed down, the weather got even worse as the teams came out for the second period. Another set piece saw Ireland draw level early in the second half from an unstoppable free kick. Chris and Butch again linked well in a solid England defence and several England chances went just wide. Midway through the second half Butch moved across to left wing back and made some good forward runs and crosses into the box. Chris as usual was as solid as ever in the back three of centre backs. England were by now starting to gain the upper hand and after another period of sustained pressure England scored again from another free kick. The game ended with England winning 2 – 1 in the first of the four Centenary Shield International Matches.

"Back at the team hotel in Belfast, the England doctor decided that Butch should have stitches put in his head wound and much to the amusement of Chris who was sharing a room with Butch, looked on as the doctor proceeded to put in a couple of stitches without anaesthetic as Butch bit on a towel and tried to look brave!

"The lads now have a couple of weeks break before meeting up in Birmingham for a training weekend before the next International match away to Wales. In the meantime the England manager has now officially renamed Butch as Rambo!"

 

7th March 2008. 7.30pm

Friday was another busy day behind the scenes at Maidstone United as co-managers Alan Walker and Lloyd Hume signed two further players to make it three new signings for the week.

Mark Saunders joined the club on Thursday and Alan Walker was thrilled with the capture of the former Gillingham player saying:” I have been chasing Mark Saunders for years but he was committed to Folkestone. He will be a big player for us and he is a real catch.”

The Stones were also able to disclose that they had managed to sign 34 year old Ian Selley from Grays Athletic of the Blue Square Conference National. Selley made his name in the game with Arsenal and played 42 times for The Gunners including an appearance in the 1994 European Cup Winners’ Cup Final when Arsenal beat Parma of Italy 1-0 with a goal by Alan Smith. The hard working midfielder has also played for Fulham, Wimbledon, Southend United and Woking.

Late on Friday afternoon, central defender Marc Clearey was signed from Isthmian League Division 1 North side Tilbury. Recently with QPR, Clearey was released when the new Italian management consortium took control at Loftus Road. He has also spent some time this season at Brentford and began the campaign at Ilford. Alan Walker had watched Clearey following a recommendation during the week and invited the youngster to training on Thursday evening when he again impressed thus leading to him rapidly signing for Stones.

All three of this week’s new signings should be involved in this Saturday’s Premier Division fixture away to AFC Hornchurch.

Unfortunately though, Andy Pugh will not be available for the fixture after he strained a knee in training although it is hoped that he will be back in contention for a starting place next week.

Finally, commenting on the addition to the coaching staff of Clive Walker, Alan Walker said: “I have known Clive for twenty years and there is no doubting his knowledge of the game. At the moment, and for probably the next six months, I am unable to get as involved in taking the training sessions as I need to be so Clive will be able to help Lloyd out on the coaching side of things. Also, it means that Clive will be on the bench when Lloyd is suspended.”

 

6th March 2008. 9.00pm

Maidstone United have signed Mark Saunders from Folkestone Invicta today.

The 36-year-old midfielder, who made more than 200 appearances for Gillingham, is expected to make his debut on Saturday against AFC Hornchurch.

There will be reaction to the signing on the Maidstone United website tomorrow evening.

 

3rd March 2008. 1.30pm

Clive Walker has joined the Stones coaching staff to assist joint managers Alan Walker and Lloyd Hume.

The experienced coach recently managed Dover Athletic and Ashford Town. The Stones management duo have been without coaching support since Jimmy Strouts left to take on the joint managers role at Kent League side Faversham Town.

Walker has managed the Stones previously. He was in charge back in 1992 when he guided the club out of the Division Four relegation zone but his reign ended when the club went out of business that summer.

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