Tuesday 15 November // Emirates FA Cup First Round Replay // Attendance: 1,350 // Report by David Sleight
Maidstone United emerged from this Emirates FA Cup First Round Replay at the Crown Oil Arena beaten but unbowed after a splendid second half performance during the course of which they defended as if their lives depended on it and matched their League One opponents for significant periods.
The Stones kicked off with a new look midfield as James Rogers and Jack Evans began in place of Dan Sweeney and Jack Paxman. Tom Mills made a welcome return and Kevin Lokko slotted back into central defence alongside Anthony Acheampong.
Rochdale started the game in top gear as the Stones found themselves penned inside their own half. Nathaniel Mendez-Laing brought a smart save from Lee Worgan after ten minutes and, moments later, Seth Twumasi somehow twisted his body to head the ball clear from under the cross bar. But Dale were not to be denied and, following good work by the impressive Joe Rafferty on the right, Steven Davies was on hand to side foot the ball home from close range.
The Stones were rocking at this stage as Dale piled forward. Davies ballooned the ball over the bar from a Reuben Noble-Lazarus cross and Joseph Bunney, a thorn in Maidstone’s side nine days ago, had a shot deflected wide for a corner. But with the Stones forced to defend very deep, it felt like only a matter of time before the home side would score again.
The goal duly arrived mid-way through the first half as Davies sent Worgan the wrong way from the spot after Bobby-Joe Taylor had fouled Bunney as he burst into the box.
Davies might have more than doubled his tally before half time as he spurned two or three excellent chances. The Stones were restricted to occasional break-aways and set pieces. One such set piece saw Alex Flisher drive a fierce shot into the Dale wall but referee Miller’s half time whistle felt like the relief of Mafeking such was the pressure that Maidstone had been under during the first period. The Stones really were indebted to Lee Worgan and his defence as they repelled most of what Rochdale threw at them.
The second half began much as the first had ended – with the Stones’ goal under siege and Worgan distinguishing himself at regular intervals. But, as the half wore on, Maidstone began to establish a foothold in the game. Jack Evans was influential in midfield and Bobby-Joe Taylor and Jamar Loza ran their hearts out in an effort to take the game to their League One opponents.
Taylor shot into the side netting after bursting down the right when he might have done better to pass the ball to the overlapping Twumasi, and Jack Evans had a good effort saved by Conrad Logan in the Dale goal. A terrifc run by Loza finished with the Dale defence charging down a Tom Mills shot from the edge of the box, and Taylor again went close for the Stones with a shot on the hour.
Rochdale, however, remained extremely dangerous and lightning fast on the break. A Bunney cross went begging as it trundled across Maidstone’s six yard box and Bunney, skipper Callum Camps and substitute Scott Tanser all went very close as the game entered its final stages.
The Stones players left the field to a standing ovation from the 132 travelling supporters in the Willbutts Lane stand who provided magnificent backing throughout the evening. This was a performance from which Jay Saunders and his men can take much heart.
A word or two for our hosts: Rochdale were gracious victors and, on a night when they had 11 players missing through injury, illness, suspension or international call up (Matty Lund made his full Northern Ireland debut this evening), it was to manager Keith Hill’s credit that his side performed as well as they did.
The Stones players and fans will look back with mixed emotions on their visit to atmospheric Spotland nestled in the foothills of the Pennines. Defeat, yes, but defeat with honour.
Rochdale: – Davies 14, 22 (pen)
Maidstone United: –
Rochdale: 25. Conrad Logan, 2. Joe Rafferty, 4. Jimmy McNulty, 6. Harrison McGahey, 10. Callum Camps (c), 11. Nathaniel Mendez-Laing, 15. Joseph Thompson, 16. Reuben Noble-Lazarus (28 Aaron Morley 84), 19. Steven Davies (3. Scott Tanser 70), 27. Andy Cannon, (14. Oliver Rathbone 45) 39. Joe Bunney. Subs not used: 1. Josh Lillis, 36. Matthew Gillam, 45. Andrew Hollins, 46. Neil Kengni Kuemo
Maidstone United: 1. Lee Worgan (c), 22. Seth-Nana Twumasi, 5. Kevin Lokko, 15. Anthony Acheampong, 3. Tom Mills, 6. James Rogers (10. Jack Paxman 58), 12. Jack Evans, 11. Alex Flisher (17. Ben Greenhalgh 70), 16. Bobby-Joe Taylor, 23. Yemi Odubade (14. Tom Murphy 75), 25. Jamar Lozar. Subs not used: 4. Jamie Coyle, 8. Dan Sweeney, 24. Liam Enver-Marum, 26. Nathan Parsons
Referee: Mr. N.S. Miller
Assistants: Mr. M C’Aguilar & Mr. A.R. Hendley
Who was your Man of the Match against Rochdale?
- Lee Worgan (42%, 10 Votes)
- Jack Evans (17%, 4 Votes)
- Bobby-Joe Taylor (8%, 2 Votes)
- Anthony Acheampong (8%, 2 Votes)
- Alex Flisher (8%, 2 Votes)
- James Rogers (8%, 2 Votes)
- Kevin Lokko (4%, 1 Votes)
- Jamar Loza (4%, 1 Votes)
- Tom Mills (0%, 0 Votes)
- Seth Nana Twumasi (0%, 0 Votes)
- Yemi Odubade (0%, 0 Votes)
- Jack Paxman (0%, 0 Votes)
- Ben Greenhalgh (0%, 0 Votes)
- Tom Murphy (0%, 0 Votes)
Total Voters: 24