RYMAN PREMIER LEAGUE
Maidstone United 7
Hampton & Richmond Borough 2
HAMPTON & Richmond’s recent revival came to a shattering halt as they conceded seven goals for the first time in almost 20 years at title chasing Maidstone on Saturday.
The Beavers eight-game unbeaten run stretching back to the beginning of December had included wins over other championship contenders Wealdstone and Kingstonian and a draw with current league leaders Dulwich.
However, having gone in level on Maidstone’s 3G pitch, the men of the Beveree fell apart in the second 45 minutes and without the heroics of Rodney Chiweshe in goal the hiding might have assumed greater proportions.
The only change was new signing Alex Finney - on a work experience agreement from Leyton Orient - being given a start at the back alongside Justyn Roberts, while his fellow O’ Lawson Okimeji was on the bench.
The Beavers made the best possible start on two minutes. Charlie Moone's (pictured) midfield header fell nicely into Dave Tarpey's path and he outpaced the Stones’ defenders to crash the ball past keeper, Lee Worgan.
The lead could so easily have been doubled just five minutes later, as Tarpey returned the favour by setting up Moone, who cut inside from the right and fired in a shot Worgan had to be alert to save.
Maidstone were in no mood to be dictated to, and on 13 minutes they levelled. Alex Flisher's header found Zac Attwood, who brought the ball under control and finished past keeper Chiweshe with ease.
Just five minutes later, the Stones were in front when a free-kick was headed back to Alex Brown whose shot from outside the box flew in off the post.
The game was turning into an attacking, end to end contest and on the half hour, the Beavers were back on terms as Joe Turner took full advantage of a mistake by the Maidstone’s Dan Parkinson and finished mercilessly past Worgan from inside the box.
Both teams were continuing to create chances and on 37 minutes the Beavers were lucky not to go behind again, but Maidstone could not find their way past some frantic defending by the Beavers inside the six-yard box.
However, it was just a matter of time and the hosts retook the lead just before half time. Stuart Lake's defensive header fell to Flisher, whose speculative shot sneaked in by the base of Chiweshe's left-hand post.
The first goal after the interval was always going to be important and it fell to the Stones. Tom Mills managed to acrobatically get past Luke Wanadio and his pass to Frannie Collin gave the striker time to thump a swerving shot, which at first appearance looked to be going well wide, but the ball moved dramatically in the air deceiving Rodney Chiweshe at his near post.
By now the Stones had stepped up a gear and the Beavers couldn't match them, hard though they tried.
Chiweshe was the busier of the keepers and he'd already made three or four excellent saves when on 55 minutes he had to fly out to block a Collin shot with his legs, Attwood planting the rebound wide.
The fifth was not long in coming though for Maidstone as Jack Parkinson powered a close range header past Chiweshe just before the hour.
It was now clear that Maidstone were in no mood to rest on their lead as on 64 minutes, Attwood found Frannie Collin in the box and once again Chiweshe had to resort to blocking the shot with his legs to deny the striker.
The Beavers had little opportunity to get into the Maidstone box, such was the home team’s dominance and even when they did Worgan was able to push a Moone shot wide.
Chiweshe was on the top of his game, despite the score-line, and on 77 minutes he pushed a goal-bound Attwood shot wide for a corner before shortly after denying Collin in similar fashion.
The Beavers’ custodian could though do nothing about the Stones sixth goal, as Collin fired in an attempt which due to the ball's movement, he could only parry and was left helpless as Michael Phillips slammed in the rebound.
The humiliation for the Beavers was completed three minutes from time as substitute Charley Robinson capped off a powerful run by placing a strong shot past Chiweshe's left hand.
Beavers have no real time to lick their wounds with in-form Met Police due to visit tomorrow (Tuesday).