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Maidstone United manager Jay Saunders celebrates League Cup final victory over AFC Sudbury

By Craig Tucker
Jay Saunders Picture: Steve Terrell
Jay Saunders Picture: Steve Terrell

Boss Jay Saunders achieved one of his targets for the season by guiding Maidstone to League Cup glory on Tuesday night.

United lifted the trophy with a 3-0 win over AFC Sudbury thanks to Michael Phillips' opener and Frannie Collin's second-half double.

Saunders said: "I'm delighted. When me and Steve Ward (assistant boss) sat down at the beginning of the season we said it would be nice to win a cup and we've done really well each round and gone through.

"We made hard work of it tonight. First half we were the slightly better side but second half they put us under a lot of pressure.

"I thought they upped their tempo and they worked really hard but we kept going and we got the result.

"We never really got going second half, never got to grips with it.

"We didn't make things stick up front, we didn't get it down and play and it became a bit of a scrappy game.

"They won a lot of seconds and put us under pressure without really creating much."

Sudbury were still in the game until Collin's 83rd-minute penalty and he made sure of victory with his second goal in injury-time.

Saunders felt the second goal was crucial, with Sudbury reduced to 10 men for Ryan Henshaw's challenge on Zac Attwood that earned the spot-kick.

The Stones manager added: "That's obviously the one. We scored a goal at a good time in the first half, around the 40-minute mark, and you're just waiting for something to happen and luckily we got the penalty.

"Frannie's tucked that away, they got a man sent off and it gave us that cushion.

"I'm delighted to get the win and to win the cup but performance-wise it wasn't great.

"Maybe Saturday took a lot out of us at Bury. It was hard work there and that probably had something to do with the second-half performance."

Saunders has called on his players to build on their League Cup victory as they bid to secure a play-off place in the last few weeks of the season.

He added: "We've got four games left and we'll be going all out to win them. If we can do then great but we'll just have to see.

"We will certainly give it our best shot. You can see we've got a close dressing room."

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