Saturday 26 September // Emirates FA Cup 2nd Qualifying Round // Attendance: 1,169 // Report by Ruth Tunnell
Maidstone United avoided a potential banana skin in the FA Cup as a Matt Bodkin hat-trick played a large part in their progression past Ryman One South side South Park.
During the first part of this match, it looked as though the Stones were going to enjoy a comfortable afternoon but then South Park scored twice in quick succession to threaten an upset. However, Maidstone are in fine form at the moment and the visitors were only in front for three minutes as the Stones themselves banged in two goals inside three minutes to ensure they reached the break in the lead.
Maidstone started strongly and enjoyed plenty of possession as South Park looked to pack men behind the ball at every opportunity. With six minutes gone, Jay May managed to find Adam Birchall despite being under pressure but Birchall’s rising drive from the edge of the area went just wide of the right hand post.
Maidstone then strung together a fine move not long after this. A lovely ball from Jack Paxman went out to Bodkin on the right and he found Callum Driver’s whose attempted cross was put behind for a corner. From this, Bobby-Joe Taylor sent the ball into the box and Manny Parry’s header was stopped by the diving James Wastell in the South Park goal.
But visitor’s defence was finally breached on 19 minutes. Driver’s throw from the right was met by Birchall who had come away from the near post and he span before putting a low ball into the six yard box which May smashed in from close range.
If the Stones though the flood gates were about to open at this moment they were soon shown that this wouldn’t be the case as the visitors started to come into the game more. On 24 minutes Kieran Lavery did well to retain possession despite the presence of Jamie Coyle and he found Joe Jackson who flicked the ball up before hitting a volley which fortunately for Maidstone went straight at the Stones’ keeper.
Worgan spotted the opportunity for a quick counter attack from this and he booted the ball upfield. It came to Taylor who shot from outside the box and Wastell threw himself to his right and concede a corner.
Minutes later Taylor flicked in a cross from the right which May managed to get his head to only for Wastell to tip it over the bar and then on 34 minutes, the visitors suddenly equalised. Parry fouled Lavery close to the edge of the box out towards the left hand corner of the area. The Stones formed a wall with Worgan covering the far post but Lovegrove managed to roll the resultant free-kick into the right hand side of the net as his shot evaded the wall and sent Worgan diving the wrong way.
If this was a frustrating goal for the Stones to concede, matters were about to get worse just three minutes later. Lovegrove was instrumental again as this time he got in down the left before he pulled the ball back to Dale Burgess. Burgess was left in space and he sent a low shot towards goal which was heading in until Worgan made a fine one handed stop but the Maidstone keeper could do nothing to stop Jackson arriving to fire in the rebound.
But before any nervousness regarding an upset could set in, the Stones drew level. Jamie Coyle clipped an excellent pass forwards which was met by Taylor and his deep cross was expertly volleyed in at the far post by Bodkin.
Then just as South Park had done, Maidstone scored again just three minutes later. May was fouled by two Sparks players and Taylor put a decent delivery into the box from the resultant free-kick which Joe Healy headed past the stranded Wastell.
Early on in the second half Jay Saunders introduced Alex Osborn for his Maidstone debut after he joined the Stones on loan from Ebbsfleet in the week. And Osborn had an almost immediate impact after he received the ball from Birchall before squaring it into the box to Bodkin who scored his second goal.
Any faint hopes South Park had of getting back into the tie were then completely quashed 20 minutes from time. Parry and Jackson both went for the ball and ended up on the floor during which time Jackson made contact with Parry which left the Maidstone defender holding his face. The referee, Mr Brook, had a clear view of the incident and had no hesitation in pulling out a red card for Jackson.
By now Alex Akrofi was on as substitute and he did well to find Bodkin down the left hand side. Bodkin’s ball went all the way across the six yard box and reached Osborn who was unable to hit the target despite being well placed.
But with nine minutes remaining, Maidstone added a fifth goal. Bodkin’s corner from the left ended up coming to Osborn who got a shot away and Akrofi turned it in from inside the six yard box.
Sixty seconds later came the moment that all Stones fans have been waiting for as Alex Flisher was brought on for his first Maidstone appearance since he sustained a serious knee injury last December. The popular player was given a standing ovation and he quickly rewarded the Stones’ faithful. With just three minutes left, Flisher overlapped Mills down the left and he picked out Bodkin who capped a fine afternoon by rounding off his hat-trick.
Maidstone United: Jay May 19, Matt Bodkin 40, 60, 87, Joe Healy 43, Alex Akrofi 81
South Park: Dean Lovegrove 34, Joe Jackson 37
Maidstone United: Lee Worgan, Callum Driver, Tom Mills, Jamie Coyle, Manny Parry, Jack Paxman, Matt Bodkin, Joe Healy, Jay May (Alex Flisher 82), Adam Birchall (Alex Akrofi 68), Bobby-Joe Taylor (Alex Osborn 54). Subs not used: Steve Watt, Simon Johnson, Mitchell Pinnock, Sam Reed.
South Park: James Wastell, James McElligott, Dean Lovegrove, Jack Stafford, Dylan Merchant, Asa-Rixon Nicholls (Kofi Quartey 71), Karl Parker (Jack Macleod 71), Nathan Ayling
Who was your man of the match against South Park?
- Matt Bodkin (77%, 209 Votes)
- Alex Flisher (9%, 24 Votes)
- Adam Birchall (2%, 5 Votes)
- Lee Worgan (2%, 5 Votes)
- Jack Paxman (2%, 5 Votes)
- Callum Driver (2%, 5 Votes)
- Bobby-Joe Taylor (1%, 4 Votes)
- Jamie Coyle (1%, 3 Votes)
- Alex Akrofi (1%, 3 Votes)
- Manny Parry (1%, 2 Votes)
- Jay May (1%, 2 Votes)
- Alex Osborn (1%, 2 Votes)
- Joe Healy (1%, 2 Votes)
- Tom Mills (0%, 1 Votes)
Total Voters: 272