Emirates FA Cup Second Round // Sunday 1 December // Attendance: 3,997 (420 Maidstone United Supporters) // Match report by Ruth Tunnell
Four desperately disappointing minutes for the Stones at the start of the second half ended Maidstone’s dreams of making the third round of the FA Cup as Blackpool scored three times to completely alter the course of this tie.
Stones fans may have been starting to dare to dream of an upset after a stunning strike from Saidou Khan gave Maidstone the lead. But Blackpool, perhaps galvanised by being booed off at half time, came out of the traps strongly after the break and within two minutes of the restart, an own goal off the unfortunate George Elokobi swung the momentum back in the favour of the Seasiders and this was followed by two quick fire goals from Nathan Delfouneso.
The opening chaotic moments of the second half were in complete contrast to Maidstone’s performance before the interval. The Stones looked defensively assured as Blackpool struggled to get going although they went close to taking the lead with 21 minutes played. Matty Virtue received the ball close to the edge of the area and his low effort was on target until it was diverted behind by goalkeeper Jake Cole.
Then, all of a sudden, Maidstone took the lead thanks to a glorious effort from Khan. Ross Marshall won a header and when the ball dropped to Khan close to the edge the box, he hit a sumptuous half volley on the turn which looped over Jak Alnwick in the Blackpool goal.
The Stones might have expected a strong response from Blackpool but the tempo of the game was very quickly reduced by a clash of heads between McClure and Ben Heneghan leaving both players needing treatment. Then with half time imminent, Khan went within inches of adding another for the Stones after he came inside from the left and drove the ball just past the far post.
But within two minutes of the restart, Maidstone’s hopes had been dashed. Joe Nuttall got to the by line and put a low ball into the six yard box where it struck the unlucky pair of Ryan Johnson and Elokobi before going past Jake Cole.
Blackpool sensed that that they had the opportunity to seize control of the game and they made sure they took full advantage with two further goals in quick succession. With 50 minutes gone, Delfouneso put the Seasiders in front with a header from Sullay Kaikai’s cross and then seconds later, Elokobi gifted Delfouneso with the opportunity to get in on goal again and this time he calmly finished past Cole who had come out to try and close down the angle.
There was then a lull in Blackpool’s onslaught before Cole did well to parry a shot from distance from Kaikai. And not long after this, Nuttall’s effort was hacked away from close to the line before Ryan Edwards header also had to be blocked inside the six yard box. Then on 72 minutes, Kaikai’s low shot was heading into the bottom left corner of the net until Cole intervened with a good save.
After this, Maidstone rallied and enjoyed a reasonable amount of possession but without ever really threatening to get back into the match and with the game in stoppage time, Delfouneso had a chance to complete his hat-trick. The Blackpool striker progressed forward but his drive cleared the bar.
Blackpool: George Elokobi 47 (O.G), Nathan Delfouneso 50, 51
Maidstone United: Saidou Khan 29
Blackpool: 26. Jak Alnwick, 5. Ryan Edwards, 6. Ben Heneghan, 7. Nathan Delfouneso, 8. Jay Spearing, 10. Sullay Kaikai, 11. Liam Feeney (36. Tony Weston 89), 17. Matty Virtue (15. Jordan Thompson 78), 24. Joe Nuttall, 26. James Husband, 29. Callum MacDonald (20. Ollie Turton 45). Subs not used: 1. Mark Howard, 14. Sean Scannell, 16. Curtis Tilt, 25. Callum Guy.
Maidstone United: 1. Jake Cole, 2. Gavin Hoyte, 19. Ryan Johnson, 6. George Elokobi, 12. Noah Chesmain, 8. Cameron James (5. Zihni Temelici 79), 4. Ross Marshall, 18. Saidou Khan, 15. Dan Wishart, 17. Iffy Allen (11. Justin Amaluzor 59), 10. Ibby Akanbi (Matt McClure 25). Subs not used: 3. Luke Pennell, 16. Chris Lewington, 14. Jake Embery, 7. Nana Kyei,