FA Cup magic proven to be alive after Maidstone United shock at Ipswich Town


Ipswich Town 1 : 2 Maidstone United

The magic of the FA Cup was truly alive and well in Suffolk as Maidstone United made history in beating the competition’s former winners Ipswich Town 2-1 at Portman Road.

Armed with tin foil cut-outs of the FA Cup, cardboard signs pledging their support to the Stones and (more bizarrely) banana outfits, it was the huge non-league travelling contingency of more than 4,000 that were victors and booked their place in Monday’s draw for the last 16.

Despite mustering 38 shots against Maidstone’s two, it was the team 99 places below Ipswich in the football pyramid that advanced.

The difference in quality between Town and George Elokobu’s National League South promotion hopefuls was clear for all to see.

Jeremy Sarmiento, whose late goal at Leicester City rescued Town a point, and Omari Hutchinson both struck the upright whilst Sone Aluko and skipper Sam Morsy also had good chances to score.

The best chance was George Edmundson’s, however, with the former Rangers central defender glancing a header wide of the post from six yards when it seemed harder for him to miss the target. But despite Kieran McKenna’s side recording 18 shots during a dominant first-half, it was the visitors who broke the deadlock first.

Town, pushing for an opener, looked to attack from a corner but the non-league outfit dealt with it well. Liam Sole’s excellent diagonal pass across the pitch then picked out Lamar Reynolds who on 43 minutes calmly chipped over Christian Walton to score his first goal for the club.

The deft finish sparked bedlam scenes among the Stones’ players and coaching staff – many of whom ran onto the pitch to celebrate – as well as their boisterous 4,472 travelling supporters.

Town started the second half in a similar fashion to the first and kept testing Lucas Covolan in the Stones’ goal. And eventually they found the back of the net courtesy of another energetic move from Sarmiento.

The tricky wideman, on-loan from Brighton, was fed the ball by Jack Taylor and drifted inside from a wide space. He shot low and hard, beating Covolan at the near post.

From there it seemed like Town would kick-on and prove their Championship status over their non-league rivals. But that certainly wasn’t what Maidstone had planned.

For all of Sarmiento and Hutchinson’s spark out-wide, their teammates in central positions regularly seemed slow on the ball and short of ideas. And so when Morsy played a weak ball straight between Sarmiento’s feet, the pressing of ex-Town youngster George Fowler allowed Reynolds to dart down the flank before letting Sam Corne, for the second round in a row, score the match-wining goal.

Blues boss Kieran McKenna said: “Anger usually comes if there was a lack of effort from the players and I didn’t think there was any of that. I didn’t think there was a lack of respect to the opponent or effort on the pitch.

“We tried lots and created lots of opportunities. Nobody tried not to take them. Their goalkeeper had a fantastic game. The first goal is something we need to learn from but it’s of course disappointing mostly for the supporters but for everyone at the club that we’ve not been able to go through.

“We’ve not gone through for a long time and have been knocked out at home to a lower-league team so of course it’s a horrible game to lose. It’s been a bad day for us but I don’t have any complaints about the players.”

Town will have felt hard done-by when Premier League referee Anthony Taylor failed to spot Paul Appiah’s hanging foot causing Edmundson to tumble inside the penalty area. The top-flight official instead brandished a yellow card to the Town man and, without the benefit of VAR, it was a decision that could not be reviewed.

But for Maidstone United this is a journey that began back in September with a 4-1 win over Steyning Town in the Second Qualifying Round of the FA Cup. The Stones will soon have played eight rounds in this year’s tournament.

To put that into perspective, if a Premier League or Championship team wins the competition then they will have only played in six rounds. Maidstone United have now won more than £350,000 in prize money

“Today was about our supporters,” boss Elokobi said afterwards. “Maidstone United is nothing without its supporters and its community. To see them turn up on this day to make it historic for our players is just incredible.

“I wanted to speak to the fans beforehand to show our gratitude to them. It was their day and not ours. Obviously we are the ones playing but they mean so much to us. We wanted them to enjoy every bit of today and we didn’t want a single bit of today to go by without taking photos and videos.

“We wanted them to enjoy this occasion because they don’t come around very often. As a football club we had some very tough times last season and I kept telling and reminding the supporters to trust the process and to believe. I knew we would be smiling again and look at us today. We’re definitely smiling.”

Ipswich Town XI: Walton, Ball (Clarke 57), Tuanzebe, Edmundson, Humphreys (Davis 57), Morsy (C), Taylor, Hutchinson (Burns 69), Aluko (Chaplin 57), Sarmiento (Buabo 69), Broadhead.

Unused Subs: Slicker, Woolfenden, Travis, Harness.

Maidstone United XI: Covolan, Hoyte (C), Fowler, Appiah, Berkeley-Agyepong (Gurung 63), Corne, Duku, Reynolds (Court,74), Kyprianou, Bone (Iandolo. 74), Sole (Greenidge 58).

Unused Subs: Ezennolim, Earle, Smith.

Attendance: 27, 763 (4,472 away)


About Author

When not busy covering local news for EssexLive, Matt Lee can be found in the press box at Portman Road covering Ipswich Town's return to the Championship and push for the Premier League.

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