Published: 21:30, 16 January 2018 |
Updated: 21:39, 16 January 2018
Maidstone beat old rivals Gillingham to reach the semi-finals of the Kent Senior Cup.
Jack Paxman gave United the lead but Gills trialist Rhys Murphy levelled before half-time.
Stones made most of the second-half running and reached the last four with Reece Prestedge’s deflected winner.
Both managers, as promised, named strong teams for the clubs’ first competitive meeting since 1992.
Stones boss Jay Saunders named his entire first team bar Stuart Lewis but in Paxman had an ideal replacement.
Gills boss Steve Lovell, meanwhile, used trialists Franck Moussa and Murphy as part of a starting XI packed with League 1 experience.
The profile of the county cup has suffered over the years and there were plenty writing this game of as irrelevant but you’d never have guessed judging by the atmosphere in the Gallagher Stadium’s North Stand.
There was a fair segregation gap between the two sets of supporters but all the songs and chants were out on a lively night.
How good it would be to see this derby again in the Football League one day - for both sets of supporters.
The players fed off the atmosphere, with an end-to-end first half played at a quick tempo and a few challenges going in.
For the Stones, Jamar Loza enjoyed the chance to run at Gills’ back three and had several shots on goal, testing Stuart Nelson a couple of times.
At the other end, Elliott List grew into the game as Gills put a series of crosses into the Maidstone box but Lee Worgan gathered the lot and was quick to get his side going on the counter-attack.
There was a touch of fortune in the build-up to Maidstone’s 26th-minute opener as Alex Wynter’s stray pass inadvertently found Delano Sam-Yorke.
The Stones striker fed Jai Reason who slipped in Paxman for a lovely finish beyond Nelson and into the far corner from just inside the box.
Maidstone, who’d also threatened through Reason and Darius Osei, deserved to be in front but Gills fought back.
List forced a good save from Worgan at his near post and also featured in the move for the equaliser in the 41st minute.
He combined with Liam Nash whose effort was parried by Worgan, with the ball sitting up for Murphy to follow up and head home virtually on the goalline.
Worgan saved well from Greg Cundle early in the second half with the Gills forward’s curler heading for the far corner.
Reece Prestedge hit the bar from distance for United and the dangerous Osei flashed the ball across the face of goal before Seth Twumasi missed by inches on his left foot as United enjoyed a good spell.
Maidstone regained the lead in the 72nd minute after a good spell of possession.
Twumasi brought the ball out of defence with Sam-Yorke, Reason, Loza and Osei all involved before the ball reached Prestedge whose deflected strike from 20 yards looped over Nelson.
Only a brilliant save by Nelson denied Maidstone a third, somehow getting down to block from Prestedge at point-blank range with a goal looking certain.
Nelson saved Gills again soon after when Loza lost two men out wide and burst into the box.
Maidstone: Worgan, Twumasi, Hare, Wynter, Anderson, Prestedge, Reason, Paxman, Osei, Sam-Yorke, Loza (Richards 88mins). Subs not used: Lewis, Capel, Taylor, Bartlett.
Gillingham: Nelson, Lacey, Nugent, Ogilvie, List (Mbo 70mins), Oldaker (Nasseri 78mins), Moussa, Nash, Cundle, Wilkinson, Murphy (Simpson 57mins). Subs not used: Hadler, Tucker.
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