Saturday 6 October 2012 // FA Cup Third Qualifying Round // Attendance: 364 // Report by Ruth Tunnell
It had to happen at some point. After winning their last seven games, Maidstone United’s impressive winning streak has been brought to a shuddering halt as they exited the FA Cup at the Third Qualifying Round stage.
The Stones can have no complaints about this defeat as they lost to a well organised and hard working East Thurrock side and certainly Jay Saunders was not going to make any excuses for his team saying: “I’m a bit disappointed for the players. We never really gave a good account of ourselves and we never really got going. But full credit to them (East Thurrock United), they set up well and they deserved it.”
Alex Flisher gave the East Thurrock defence a difficult time early in the game and on 14 minutes he drove a low ball across the six yard box which Ian Draycott managed to connect with but he could not divert it into the net. However, after Flisher was booked on 15 minutes he faded from the game and he ended up getting sent off on 68 minutes when he reacted angrily to not been given a clear free-kick close to the home side area and the referee, Mr Pawley, produced a yellow card for dissent.
As the half progressed, The Rocks started to take the upper hand and Kye Ruel had a good chance to give the home side the lead but he rushed his shot and blazed the ball over the bar and on 21 minutes, The Stones couldn’t clear their lines and from just outside the box, Tom Stephen drove the ball wide.
Seconds later, the Maidstone defence creaked but Ruel’s eventual shot was blocked and then with 24 minutes gone, Sam Higgins despatched a penalty after Ryan Cooper had clearly handled Hakeem Araba’s goalbound header.
Having taken the lead, The Rocks looked to increase their goal tally and they had a good chance to do so when captain Reiss Gilbey got in behind the Maidstone defence only to lift the ball over the bar with only Charlie Mitten in The Stones’ goal to beat.
It didn’t take long though for the home side to score again though as with 36 minutes gone, The Stones’ defence suffered a lapse in concentration as Higgins drove the ball across the box and after a brief scramble, Gilbey popped up to tap the ball into the net.
By now it was clear that Maidstone had a mountain to climb if they were to get back into the game and they had a couple of efforts as the match moved towards the interval with a free-kick from Flisher and a weak shot from Ian Draycott but neither player troubled Richard Wray in the East Thurrock goal.
The second half was a turgid affair until late on and with 81 minutes played, Shaun Welford latched onto a long ball forwards but he was forced wide of goal and his tame effort was comfortably saved by Wray. Then at the other end, Kris Newby found himself in space inside the box only to rush the shot and he put the ball well wide of the left hand post.
However, Newby atoned for this error with three minutes remaining when he waltzed through the Maidstone defence and rammed the ball home. The Rocks then came close to adding a fourth shortly afterwards when substitute Sam Collins crossed for Ruel who planted his header into the ground and when it bounced back up it only just cleared the bar.
Then with the game in stoppage time, The Stones probably had their best opportunity of the afternoon to get onto the scoresheet when Tom Mills crossed for substitute Ade Olorunda but he could not guide his header on target.
East Thurrock United: Sam Higgins 24 (pen), Reiss Gilbey 36, Kris Newby 87
Maidstone United: -
East Thurrock United: Richard Wray, Ryan Sammons, Tom Stephen, Simon Peddie, Steve Sheehan, Ross Paramenter, Kris Newby, Reiss Gilbey, Sam Higgins, Hakeem Araba (Sam Collins 81), Kye Ruel. Subs not used: Joe Keith, Marc Gorbell, Matt Hall, Spencer Harrison, Jamie Riley.
Maidstone United: Charlie Mitten, Ryan Cooper, Tommy Osborne, Nicky Humphrey, Tom Mills, Tim Olorunda, Michael Phillips, Sam Bewick (Kaiyne Woolery 54), Shaun Welford, Ian Draycott (Ade Olorunda 54), Alex Flisher. Subs not used: Ben Davisson, Danny Lye, Graeme Andrews, Deren Ibrahim.