REPORT | Finney notches winner late on for the Stones

    Alex Finney’s injury time winner condemned Chester to a narrow defeat in the National League despite a confident performance.

    The QPR-loanee netted his first goal in professional football and secured Maidstone’s first win in five games at the Gallagher Stadium.

    Marcus Bignot made one change to the starting line up from Tuesday night’s dramatic victory over Barrow – with Andy Halls replacing Tom Shaw in the middle of the park, and Conor Mitchell subsequently taking his place on the bench.

    Lucas Dawson fashioned the Blues’ first opportunity of the encounter, when he dragged his strike inches wide of Lee Worgan’s near post just minutes in after impressive build up play.

    Maidstone offered a scare for the visitors soon after. Zavon Hines lofted a free kick in from the by-line, and Tommy Wraight rose the highest to nod marginally wide.

    Ten minutes in and Hines nearly gave the Stones an early advantage, as the ex-West Ham trainee shrugged off the challenge of Paul Turnbull on the edge of the area, before forcing Alex Lynch into an outstretched save.

    Blues continued to counter the home sides’ fluid 4-3-3 formation and created plenty of opportunities for themselves. Ryan Astles arrived late at the far post to volley a free kick over the crossbar, and Ross Hannah struck wide from a tight angle despite Turnbull’s late run into the box.

    Jordan Archer spared the blushes of Worgan ten minutes before the interval, after the Stones keeper spilled the ball during a tussle with Hannah. The newly signed Blues striker tried his luck from 25 yards out, but a brilliant block by Alex Finney denied him.

    With moments before the break, Jay Saunders’ side should have found themselves in front. Following a quick free kick routine, Stuart Lewis picked up the ball on the edge of the penalty area, and saw his strike ricochet off the post, before Lynch clutched the ball into safety.

    Joe Pigott squandered a perfect chance to put the Stones ahead early into the second period. The 23-year old turned past Blues captain John McCombe, and curled his effort narrowly wide of the far post.

    Referee Adrian Quelch noted three players in his notebook fifteen minutes from time, following a scuffle between Kingsley James and Seth Twumasi before several team mates then swarmed to the scene, which saw Stones defender Finney also see his name taken.

    Substitute Jamar Loza easily could have nodded the Kent-based outfit into the lead, when he guided his header directly into the midriff of Lynch – despite being in acres of space inside the 18-yard box.

    A long throw from Andy Halls caused the Stones problems almost seconds later. Astles flicked the ball on towards the back post – but Archer could only get a slight touch and sent it wide.

    But, Saunders’ side left all of the drama until last minute, as Finney pounced on a failed clearance from a corner – and smashed the ball into the roof of the net past Lynch.

    Maidstone United: Worgan, Twumasi, Wynter, Finney, Wraight (Loza 74), Hare, Lewis, Reason, Sam-Yorke, Hines, Pigott (ter Horst 90).

    Subs not used: Anderson, Prestedge, Muldoon.

    Bookings: Wraight (71), Twumasi (76), Finney (77)

    Chester FC: Lynch, Hall-Johnson, Astles, McCombe, Gough, James, Dawson, Halls, Turnbull (Rowe-Turner 90+5), Archer (Zanzala 90+8), Hannah (White 84).

    Subs not used: Mitchell, Bell.

    Bookings: Halls (5), Gough (58), Dawson, (75), James (76), Hannah (80), McCombe (88)

    Attendance: 2,351 (116 from Chester)