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Maidstone 2 Barrow 1: Reaction from manager George Elokobi as United reach FA Cup third round for the first time since 1988

George Elokobi said the gods were with Bivesh Gurung after his extraordinary FA Cup winner for Maidstone.

Local lad Gurung’s 74th-minute rocket against League 2 high-fliers Barrow came after his number had gone up to be substituted.

Maidstone United celebrate their FA Cup victory over Barrow. Picture: Helen Cooper
Maidstone United celebrate their FA Cup victory over Barrow. Picture: Helen Cooper

But he remained on the pitch at the last moment, with Sol Wanjau-Smith taken off instead after going down injured.

Midfielder Gurung made the most of his reprieve with a stunning 20-yard strike to earn a 2-1 comeback victory and a place in the third round for the first time since 1988.

The draw will be made on Sunday lunchtime, before the Eastleigh v Reading tie, with United dreaming of facing a Premier League giant.

Stones boss Elokobi felt it was fitting Gurung scored the winner.

“This result is history in terms of how our players have gone about it - and what a way to win it by Bivesh Gurung,” said Elokobi.

“I was laughing and I was walking around just shaking my head.

“As soon as it left his feet we knew it was going in but if there’s one person that deserves it, in my book, it’s Bivesh.

“He’s an honest lad and for what he lacks technically he makes it up with heart, endeavour, determination, drive, and when you’ve got all that in football, technically you can keep improving.

“This is his first season that he’s enjoying a lot of first-team football.

“It’s important he keeps his feet on the ground, which he does, and he keeps getting better and better.

“I think today the gods were with him. They wanted him to score that goal. It was one of the best goals I’ve seen here but if you are to win in the FA Cup, it takes that - a rocket of a strike.”

Maidstone trailed to Benjamin Whitfield’s tap-in after a mix-up at the back but vice-captain Sam Corne scored a classy equaliser from Sol Wanjau-Smith’s pass before half-time.

And it was Corne’s partially cleared corner that saw Sam Bone set up Gurung’s winner as Maidstone pulled off the shock of the day, banking another £67,000 in prize money.

Maidstone midfielder Sam Corne celebrates his equaliser against Barrow. Picture: Steve Terrell
Maidstone midfielder Sam Corne celebrates his equaliser against Barrow. Picture: Steve Terrell

“The overriding emotion is a wonderful achievement by our group of players, by our supporters, by Maidstone United Football Club,” said Elokobi.

“This is the magic of the FA Cup and anything can happen, especially here at the Gallagher Stadium.

“We know how well our players have been playing and we know how together we are as a group.

“Not just our players but we are connected to our fanbase and when clubs come here they have to earn the right to win a game.

“When we went a goal down we always said do not get negative, make sure we stay positive, make sure we keep doing the right things and I thought our players did exactly that.

“We got the goal we deserved in the first half to go in 1-1.

“This win is for this community, it’s for our owners and also it’s going to go a long way (financially).

“Hopefully, some of the finance can help replace this pitch that we’ve been talking about. It’s an amazing achievement.”

Elokobi was in tears in front of the Genco Stand at full-time as Maidstone celebrated their upset victory.

He was thinking of his players, as well as his Cameroon homeland, during those scenes.

“We know there is more to come, we know they can get better, we know they can improve,” said Elokobi.

Report: Maidstone 2-1 Barrow

“All we ask them to do is stay consistent in training and make sure they keep learning as much as they can because you never know where it can take you.

“I was wearing the emotions for them, for their families, for their friends, the communities they come from and also my community in Cameroon.

“The amount of messages I’ve had today has been incredible, and yesterday as well.

“To get over the line against a very good Barrow side who are flying high in League 2, for our group to achieve this today, it’s history. It’s going to be remembered for a very, very long time.”

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