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Maidstone United manager Jay Saunders wants to his team to reproduce FA Trophy form in promotion race

Maidstone United player-manager Jay Saunders

By Craig Tucker

Jay Saunders has told his Maidstone players to move on from their FA Trophy dismay and go all out for promotion.

Depleted Stones were sunk by an injury-time strike that should have been ruled out for offside when FC Halifax won Tuesday’s re-arranged second round tie 2-1.

But Stones produced one of their best performances of the season against opponents who play two leagues above them in Blue Square Bet North. And boss Saunders (pictured) wants United to take that form into matches at home to Worthing on Saturday and at Ramsgate on Boxing Day (3pm).

He said: "The boys were gutted in the changing room because they knew we should have been in the next round or at the very least taken them back to our place for a replay.

"It’s disappointing but we’ve got to move on and take the positives from the run we’ve been on in the Trophy. Look at the teams we’ve beaten in Margate, Whitehawk and Salisbury and then how well we’ve played at Halifax.

"We know that if we produce those performances in the league then few teams will be able to live with us."

Stones have come a long way since a 2-0 defeat at Worthing in August led to calls for Saunders to be sacked. They haven’t lost in 13 games since and are top of Ryman League, Division 1 South ahead of the return fixture.

Striker Stuart King is set to start having been cup-tied at Halifax with fellow forward Paul Booth (work) also due to return. But Ian Draycott (ankle) and Ade Olorunda (sickness) are doubts while Shaun Welford is suspended.

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