Saturday 25 October // FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round // Attendance: 2,226 // Report by Ruth Tunnell
For the first time since reforming, Maidstone United have made it to the first round proper of the FA Cup after goals from Jack Parkinson and Frannie Collin knocked out Welling United from the Conference.
This was an outstanding performance from the Stones who controlled this match for long periods. Right from the outset, Maidstone looked the more confident of the two sides and there were some players who really shone, including James Rogers and Tom Mills.
The visitors looked nervous in the early stages and in the opening moments, Michael Chambers gave the ball straight to Alex Flisher. Flisher advanced down the left and elected for an early shot which went all the way across the face of goal.
Maidstone continued to press Welling and on four minutes, the Stones were awarded a throw on the right. Flisher hurled the ball into the box and it came back out to Matt Bodkin who then returned the ball to Flisher and he quickly whipped in an inviting cross which was met by Jack Parkinson and his header flew into the net.
Flisher’s throws continued to cause the Wings’ defence problems and on 13 minutes, another long ball into the box came to Jamie Coyle and he sent it back across goal but Steve Watt was unable to divert it on target.
Jay May tried to take advantage of some hesitant defending from the visitors but the Maidstone striker was always under pressure and he lifted his shot over the bar. Then not long after this, another good throw from Flisher picked out Steve Watt whose header dropped just inches wide of the right hand post.
With 28 minutes gone, Rogers sent a free-kick into the box and towards the back post. Sonny Miles did well to get up and head the ball back across goal and it came to Watt who didn’t have much time to react and he volleyed the opportunity over the bar.
It wasn’t until the game was into the final ten minutes of the half that Welling finally created a chance. The Wings broke quickly as they cut out an attempted pass from Flisher to Frannie Collin and the ball was worked to Artiste Bassele who then put Ben Jefford in down the right. Jefford stood the ball back up into the middle and Lee Worgan did well to punch it but it fell to Kieron St-Aimie who then saw his shot well parried by the Maidstone keeper.
Then at the other end, May was brought down by Jamal Fyfield about 28 yards from goal. Collin stepped up to take the free-kick and his dipping effort threatened to creep under the bar but Benjamin Buchel tipped it over.
Unsurprisingly, Welling improved after the break and began to try and exert themselves on the Stones. With 51 minutes gone, Harry Beautyman’s corner from the Welling left reached Kieron St-Aimie whose header was going in until Worgan intervened with a fine save.
Following this move, the Stones rapidly broke upfield. Matt Bodkin did well to make progress and hold the ball up and he spotted Tom Mills who had burst forward. Mills picked up possession and drove at the Welling defence before he unselfishly squared the ball to Frannie Collin who took a touch and then blasted in his 14th goal of the season.
But the nerves amongst the capacity crowd at the Gallagher Stadium were quickly set jangling again as within sixty seconds, Welling halved the deficit. Jake Gallagher managed to get in behind the Maidstone defence and he apparently pushed the ball over the line using his arm.
Just past the hour, Welling moved the ball across the edge of the box well leaving Artiste Bassele to have a shot but Worgan made a comfortable save before another Flisher throw gave Welling problems at the back once more. This time Flisher’s ball in came to Watt who was in a good position inside the box but his low drive went wide of the left hand post.
By now, Maidstone were looking the more dangerous of the two sides. Collin curled a free-kick into the box from close to the touchline which Buchel spilled and May smashed the rebound wide. Then a quick break from the Stones drew Buchel from his line but he got back in time for Flisher’s cross which May headed over the bar.
As the game started to draw to a close, the Stones were tiring but were still holding their own and it was the home side who created the final chance with 83 minutes played. A corner from Flisher picked out Jack Parkinson and his header was cleared off the line by Barney Williams.
Maidstone United: Jack Parkinson 4, Frannie Collin 52
Welling: Jake Gallagher 53
Maidstone United: Lee Worgan, Jamie Coyle, Tom Mills, Steve Watt, Sonny Miles, James Rogers, Matt Bodkin (Bradley Jordan 85), Jack Parkinson, Jay May, Frannie Collin (Alex Brown 79), Alex Flisher. Subs not used: Charlie Robertson, Ben Greenhalgh, Richard Davies, Liam King, Will Godmon.
Welling: Benjamin Buchel, Jamal Fyfield, Jake Gallagher, Harry Beautyman, Kieron St-Aimie, Tyrone Marsh (Malachi Hudson 62), Ben Jefford, Artiste Bassele (Jon Nouble 78), Michael Chambers, Barney Williams, Joe Healy. Subs not used: Zach Fagan, Charlie Denny, Sam Corne, Lee Butcher.